This weekend, I was asked (again!) what kind of job will I be able to get once I’d finished the Mlitt course? Deep breath and a silent scream later I replied that I had no idea. I’ve only just finished the first semester and already I’m being forced to look to the future. Is it so wrong to live in the moment?
When wind and rain battered my bedroom window this week, I got up and looked out at the bleak weather. Then I slipped on my cheetah print fleecy dressing gown and snuggled back down to read a brilliant book (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz- if you must know) as part of my day’s “work”.
This time last year, I would have been driving to work in the dark and coming home in the dark with frizzy hair, fed up and frustrated.
So if I’m 10 times happier, why am I suffering from a weird side effect called guilt?
I often feel guilty for doing something I really enjoy. I’m convinced that this Calvinist attitude is an unfortunate default setting for Scottish folk. If you don’t believe me, read Scot’s Crisis of Confidence by Carol Craig where she examines Scots’ attitudes and tendency for negativity. She explores how the self-deprecating joke of “getting above ourselves” is a destructive national trait and how Scotland’s Calvinist heritage includes a highly developed work ethic with a deep sense of duty and social responsibility.
So how does this relate to me?
My friends are busy doing REAL jobs- like social worker and teacher whilst I’m faffing about at uni sweating about whether the latest chapter of my novel works. I applaud their career choice and admire the fact that they’re doing a job that’s important. Good on them! But can I please have one year out of my whole life to indulge my need to have a serious attempt at being a writer without feeling guilty?
I’m not out there battling the elements or saving lives. I’m staying cosy in my jammies and making up wee stories in my head. But I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I’m determined to shake off John Knox’s legacy (aka Knoxplex) and any hint of guilt to enjoy every minute of the course while it lasts.
“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future,
concentrate the mind on the present moment”