Paddle your own canoe


(yes, I know it’s a boat, but same difference…)

I think I’m having a bit of an identity crisis at the moment (first world problems, yeah?). Recently divorced after a ten year plus relationship and I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t actually know myself at all.

It is Tinder to thank for this realisation – I know, I went on Tinder. Do you think a little less of me now? I was only on it for about five minutes before I realised what a bad idea it was – am hopeless at small talk in person, so what hope did I have of striking up a conversation with someone who had deemed me worthy of communication based on a photo? Yes, I’d also judged based on a photo – whatevs… (sidetrack – should that be ‘wevs’? Still learning cool, chilled, breezy speak. And yes, merely stating these three things means I am none of them…).

Where was I? Oh yes, Who Am I?

So, yes Tinder helped me establish that I had no direction, no real interests and no clue as to what I wanted out of life/my next relationship/dinner that night. The limited conversations I had with men centred around them asking me what I liked to do (um, given the nature of this particular app, am now not sure if these weren’t actually life/recreational questions but more of enquiries of a ‘spicy’ nature…)

Having a pretty much full time job and a small child kind of help distract from these important questions. (Dinner being the most important, obvs.. I’m doing it again…)

Back to ‘The Canoe’. Have you heard the phrase ‘Love many, trust few, always paddle your own canoe’? I only heard it recently – but it had one of those lightbulb moment effects.

Looking back over my adult life so far, I think once I was in a long term relationship I sort of coasted. Compromise meant, a lot of the time, not doing the things I wanted to do and instead trying to accommodate someone else’s interests. I wanted to share experiences with my partner, not do things in isolation. So I didn’t do much at all.

(That’s not really a pop at my ex, by the way – this is squarely on me. We didn’t have many shared interests – warning sign anyone?! But, that shouldn’t have stopped me from doing anything I wanted to do.)

By putting all my focus on my relationship, I forgot about learning and growing for myself. And appreciating that life isn’t about looking for what will happen next, but what is happening in the here and now. I didn’t paddle my own canoe, I just wanted to be carried along with someone else’s.

In true Bridget Jones generation fashion I have turned to books for inspiration (although the books are no longer on the shelf, but on my Kindle). Yup, when once I would have scoffed at ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’, I’m now gaining some well-timed and much needed motivation. I’d recommend it. But if you want less ‘self help’ guide and more ‘kick ass advice’, go for Cheryl Strayed’s ‘Tiny Beautiful Things – advice on love and life from someone who’s been there’. She’s wise, that Cheryl.

Will I go back to learning the guitar? Learn a language? How to do electrics and stuff? Who knows for the moment. But I’m enjoying learning the things that I didn’t know I didn’t know about. (have to read that one carefully!!)

As the quote by Emerson goes: “Life is a journey, not the destination.”




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