Get a life, just make sure it’s your own

It’s strange really. I read a fair bit, I listen to the radio, mainly in the car, and it always seems to be women telling other women how to live.
We don’t get men telling men how to live quite so much. I suppose the twentieth century rather put a damper on that. Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori no longer has the power it once did.
So how would I tell women to live?

I’d tell them to beware of the critics. What we forget is people seek affirmation by looking round and seeing other people striving for the same things that they are striving for. Hence the person who has dedicated their whole life to getting to the top in business, or to staying thin, or to combining all this with running the ‘perfect’ home will feel nothing but dislike for another person who does none of these and yet has the audacity to be perfectly happy.
So basically ignore those who tell you that you are betraying ‘the sisterhood’ or whatever by not following in their footsteps. What they mean is that by managing to enjoy life, to be happy and content, without bothering to do all the things they do, just makes them feel undermined and their struggles seem worthless.
That’s their problem, not yours; leave them to worry about it.

Then there’s this whole money thing. Given a choice I wouldn’t borrow money. The more you owe, the less free you are. If you owe nothing and even have a few quid tucked away in the bank, if the boss is a bastard, then you can tell him that and tell him where to stuff his job. If he puts his hands where he shouldn’t you can cheerfully stamp on his instep with your heels.
The fact that our society is now utterly out of kilter because housing costs have been allowed to get out of control is sad but probably the place for another rant.

So let’s get another thing straight. Don’t go into life expecting ‘job satisfaction.’ I think the concept really came in when women entered the job market. Yes, in education and nursing and suchlike you can get job satisfaction. But most men will tell you that, actually, a job is just something you do, it brings in the money and funds real life. Few men have a desperate urge to work in call centres, dig ditches, deal with housing benefit claims, empty dustbins, or fill in potholes in the road. If you get ‘job satisfaction’ fine, that’s great, but don’t expect it to just happen as a right. Like everything else that’s worth having, it’s something that only really comes when you work for it.
What you can hope for is to work with a decent crowd, but that won’t happen by accident either. Someone has to put the effort in and set an example. Might as well be you as anyone else.

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