Christine, Wondering

Random Musings of a Human Becoming

Friday, June 15, 2007

What I Want vs What I Really Want

Apologies to everyone who has a Spice Girls song stuck in their head due to the title. And apologies to everyone who didn’t after reading the title, but does now because of Apology #1.

I’ve been thinking a lot in the last day about my need to “plan” the future out in my head, to know what I’m going to be doing from year to year and how I’m going to do it. It’s hard to talk to people about it because I’ve found that they don’t understand that they’re not real plans, and it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t happen the way I imagine. I just need to have a plan.

The reason I’ve been thinking about it is that I’ve realised that my high-functioning autistic brother (9yo) does the same thing. He’ll start to fret about something so far in the future that it’s absurd (for example, he’s currently fretting about the fact that he doesn’t know how to get a job when he wants to start earning money). Mum or I will try to explain to him how it works, step by step, and he will repeat it back to us. Each time he hits something he doesn’t understand, we have to clarify, and after the clarification, he goes back to the beginning of the explanation and recites it with the new information, until he hits the next bit he doesn’t understand . . . then back to the beginning again.

I do exactly the same things when making these comfort-plans of the future. I’ll think my way through, work out a detail, go back to the start, think it through again, add another aspect, go back to the start . . . it’s not fretful worrying for me, but otherwise it’s the exact same process.Tends to indicate that it’s an autism spectrum thing, which explains why most people find it weird lol.

Right now I’m struggling with the fact that there’s the plan I ostensibly want, which is sensible and fits cultural norms and such; and then there’s the plan I really want, which people will find strange and old-fashioned but actually fits my character and temperament far better.

Plan A is the one I’ve discussed before – teach in the country a bit, teach in London a bit, come back, teach while having a respectably middle-sized family and using childcare so that I can keep working for a lot of the time. Then there's Plan B. It goes like this: I go to the country to teach, fall in love with both the town and someone in it, teach for a while then stop work and be a stay-at-home-writing-Mum to a largeish family (apart from some relief teaching if there’s someone I can leave the kids with), then go back to teaching in however many years once the youngest is in pre-primary.

Now, most people would be horrified at the idea of my pursuing plan B – big families (I’m only talking 6 or 7 mind, not 15!) are politically incorrect, and intelligent women aren’t supposed to want to be stay-at-home Mums. Plus it’s financially “unwise”. But I know myself, and I think I’d thrive on that lifestyle.

And I’m wavering on London, simply because of the hassle of it all. Plus there’s one major problem with the London plan – Jemima would have to go into quarantine for 6 months when I came back to Australia, and that’s a nasty thing to do to a cat. I’m not capable of putting my cat through anything like that, nor could I give her away. So the chances are I’d feel trapped in London in the end because I wouldn’t want to move back in Jemima’s lifetime. And that just doesn’t work any way you look at it.

I’ll have LOTS of holidays as a teacher, and with careful budgeting while I’m still young and child-free I’ll be able to travel Europe plenty. Do I really need to live there? Really? Deciding to go to London was a get-out plan because I was scared that I’d get trapped in country WA with no prospects of meeting anyone. And I can keep it as that – if in a couple of years I feel trapped, I go to London, and deal with the hassle. Fine. But right now I want a big country property with chickens to feed and a veggie garden to tend and a house full of kiddies. And I can’t stop wanting it just because other people think it’s not right.

Nor can I stop comfort-planning it because people find it strange!


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