The thing is, you see, I’ve spent a lot of hours in the dentist’s chair over the last few years – and I’ve spent a whole lot of money there, too, on work which was purely cosmetic. I have absolutely no regrets, though – in fact, I’m currently contemplating having even MORE work done – and that got me thinking of some of the other things I’m glad I did, even although everyone told me not to. Things like..
Getting “cosmetic surgery”
OK, so “‘cosmetic surgery” is a bit of an exaggeration here (Hey, made ya look, though!), but a few years ago I did have a couple of moles removed from my face, for reasons that were purely cosmetic. The thing about those moles, you see, was that they were both perfectly round, perfectly RED, and -worst of all – (almost) perfectly symmetrical. I had one right in the centre of each cheek, and although one was just a tiny bit higher than the other, to the naked eye, they looked absolutely symmetrical, and that fact made me look… well, it made me look a bit like someone had snuck up on me while I was asleep, and drawn two dots on my face with a red Sharpie, to be completely honest.
Well, I thought so, anyway.
For years, the people closest to me assured me that the moles were perfectly fine, and that, no, they didn’t remotely look like a couple of zits that just never went away. In fact, when I first started talking about having them removed, my family tried quite hard to talk me out of it, telling me that it was a waste of money (I had to have it done privately, and I had to have it done twice, because the first time I just had them shaved off, and both of the suckers grew back, which meant I had to have them cut out instead), that it could leave scars that I’d hate even more than the moles, and that I should just learn to be happy with myself the way I was, instead.
The thing was, though, I WASN’T happy. Actually, I was really self-conscious about them, and while I totally get the whole, “You should learn to love your flaws,” argument, my mindset has always been more along the lines of, “If you’re not happy with something, change it.”
So I changed it.
I had the moles removed (twice), and honestly, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I know it sounds vain – and it IS – but it did so much for my self-confidence that I have absolutely no regrets: other than the fact that I didn’t have it done sooner, that is.
Quitting my first job
My first job after university was as a reporter on the local newspaper, and, two years in, the parent company announced they were closing down our regional office, getting rid of all but one journalist, and moving production to the Edinburgh newsroom of the much larger daily paper the company owned.
I guess to a lot of people, this would’ve seemed like a great opportunity to work in the city (Which, to be fair, I would’ve preferred…), and possibly get a foot in the door with the broadsheets, but… er, not me. I’ve always got to be the awkward one, hey?
In this case, it wasn’t JUST me, to be fair. As soon as we were given the news, the editor of our paper said he didn’t want to continue working for it given the proposed changes (He didn’t believe a local paper could be effectively run without reporters in the area they were covering…), and it took me about two seconds to decide I didn’t either. The editor of that paper was the person who’d convinced the publishers to create a job for me when they hadn’t even been considering taking on another reporter: he’d taken a chance on me when I rocked up with absolutely no journalism experience, and he was very involved in the local community the paper served. I knew it just wouldn’t be the same without him, and I’d also started to realise that journalism probably wasn’t the right career for me – so, without even giving it a second thought, as soon as the HR person who’d been brought in to break the news to us stopped speaking, I said I’d like to apply for voluntary redundancy, and how could I go about it?
My parents were absolutely aghast at this. I was leaving my job without having another one lined up, and while there was no guarantee that I’d have been kept on anyway (I’d have had to re-interview for my own job, basically, competing against the paper’s other reporter, who was a friend), if I HAD stayed on, it could’ve been a great opportunity for me.
It wouldn’t have been, though.
Because, the thing was, by that stage I already knew I didn’t have what it takes to be a news journalist, and had also started to realise that, actually, I didn’t want to stay in traditional employment AT ALL. It took one more office job (this time in public relations) to push me towards becoming self-employed, but that journey started with me quitting my first job with nothing else to replace it – and, once again, I have absolutely no regrets..
Moving to a small village
Five years ago, Terry and I moved from a large, busy town, to a village that USED to have both a post office AND a general store, but which now only has a general store with a post-office counter in it, so… yeah. It’s not large. Or remotely “bustling”. Or even the kind of quaint, picturesque little village you’re probably picturing right now, so get that village green and duck pond out of your head right now – it’s SO not like that.
Now, it would be a complete exaggeration to say that EVERYONE told us not to do this. Actually, I don’t think ANYONE said that, at all. Because that would be a bit weird and intrusive, wouldn’t it? Even so, when we announced where were moving to, a lot of people were openly surprised, and kind of puzzled, really – and, I mean, I can see why. On the face of it, our village doesn’t really have a whole lot going for it (WAIT! WAIT! I’ve just remembered we have a chip shop! And it’s quite a good one, too, actually. *SmugFace*), and the place we moved FROM has almost everything you could really need.* So, why move to the middle of nowhere – a place where people would have to go out of their way to come and visit us, and where there isn’t even a decent coffee shop or bar we can take them to when they do? Why indeed.
(*I say “almost”: there is no ZARA. Or Mango, even. So, I mean, WHY STAY?)
The reason we moved, though, was pretty simple: it allowed us to buy a much bigger, much nicer house than we could afford in a larger town. Because we both work from home – and can therefore work from anywhere – we spend a lot more time at home than most people do, so the house itself was actually more important than the location, in this case. Not that the location is all that bad, I hasten to add: it’s close to my parents, it’s a nice, friendly street (We already knew two sets of neighbours when we moved in, and have gotten to know the rest over time. Every single one of our neighbours came round with a gift when Max was born, and it’s the kind of place where kids play in the street and everyone goes out and helps clear the snow in the winter.), and, we weren’t thinking about this when we moved, but the local primary school is excellent, and just a short walk from our house.
So, regrets? I’ve had a few… but nope, that wasn’t one of them either.