I often think about what I’d tell myself if I could go back and have a few words with teenage me. What advice would I dish out? What warnings would I give? What would I stay silent on? What encouragement or reassurances would I offer? Would I comment on any of the choices that I now know I went on to make, in a bid to steer myself a different way?
The short answer to that latter question is absolutely not. I’m very much a believer in the Sliding Doors notion. If you haven’t seen that movie, you need to get it on your must-watch list. It tells the story of a woman called Helen, played by Gwyneth Paltrow and the two very different courses that her life takes when (a) she catches a train that she is running for, and when (b) she misses it. It’s a light-hearted, easy watching, lovely feel good film, but I think the bigger picture of what it’s about is so, so true. The smallest thing in your day such as getting to work on time, bumping into an old friend, getting through the traffic lights before they turn red, or missing that train can take us on a different path to where we were previously headed, without us even knowing it.
But what about the other kind of Sliding Doors moments? The ones that we can control and are an out-and-out choice? Where we seize an opportunity that has the potential to impact our life in a grand way, or equally leave no trace or imprint at all? Those are the moments I want to unearth and embrace more in 2018, and are what I’d tell teenage me to watch out for and to grasp, because the outcome can be utterly wonderful. My words to live by last year were make it happen. From here on in they are make more happen.
So on that very note I thought I’d share with you five self-orchestrated Sliding Doors moments in my life which have led to great things for me, in a bid to show how taking chances and risks and trusting your instincts can impact hugely on your future, for the better.
- Making the first move: It was a cold, drunken December night in 2001. I was eighteen and it was my work Christmas party and I told the guy that I liked, that I fancied him. I’d never ever been that bold or forward with a boy before. Ever. I remember it really was 50/50 as to whether the words would escape from my mouth. Sixteen years later and that boy is my husband of seven years. I do often wonder what would have happened had I not been quite so tipsy in that moment, as had I not said it then I don’t think I ever would have.
- Applying for a job: I was sixteen and in a shopping centre with my mum when I saw that a new Gap store was set to open. A huge poster in the shop window was calling for applications for staff, and having until that point spent my weekends washing dishes in coffee shops for employment since the age of 13, the idea of working at Gap was like a whole new glossy denim world. When I got the job I was elated. It brought me out of my shy teenage shell and impacted my life far more than I ever realised at the time. I went on to work for the company right up until I graduated from university, six years later. I met my husband working there as well as some of my closest friends who I still count as such to this day. One of my blogging goals is to collaborate with Gap. Just putting it out there 😉 I have such an affinity with that brand, and for the people it brought my way.
- Avoiding unhappiness: In my mid-20s I applied for a sought after journalism job that had my name written all over it. It would bring with it a certain career status, and would also enable a change in circumstances in my life that I was desperate for at the time. The interview went really well, and I had an overwhelming gut feeling that I was going to be offered the position. But the truth was, I did not want the job. I knew that while the changes it would bring would make me happy, the job itself would make me miserable as sin. So the next day I rang up and pulled out of the process, and they told me that the job would have been mine. I’ve never once regretted that decision.
- Going against the grain: On a Sunday afternoon one April, James and I sat and watched the film What Happens in Vegas. We were engaged at the time and had booked both our wedding and reception venues for May the following year, in the North East of England. As the credits for the rom com began to roll, an idea rocketed through my mind. “Imagine if we got married in Vegas?” I blurted out, only half serious. But when James gave me a look that screamed maybe, the rest, as they say, was history.
- Following my gut: I studied photography as part of my degree, and in my final year at university was tasked with creating a series of photos that would be exhibited in the end of year show, to a theme of my choosing. All year long I struggled to come up with a theme that I was happy with. Nothing hit the mark of what I wanted to achieve and I was adamant that I wasn’t going to settle on something that didn’t excite me. I had to submit my final portfolio of images for assessment by May, the academic year having begun the previous September. Come March I still didn’t have a theme and I was panicking. This body of work was to contribute to one third of my entire degree result. In early April I visited my dear friend Barry in New York (we met working at Gap, dontcha know) and had begrudgingly decided the theme for my photos would be graffiti. I had my fingers and toes crossed that in Manhattan I’d find some amazing street art to document. Which of course, I did. But when I returned to university the following week and showed my pictures to my lecturer, he was far more interested in some eerie shots I’d taken of random objects that decorated the gated community gardens in New York’s East Village – Barry’s then neighbourhood. I remember feeling sick to my stomach as it dawned on me that I’d been so set on making a success of the graffiti theme, that I’d been blind to the fact that I’d happened upon something special in the East Village. “What a shame you didn’t take more photos,” said my lecturer. “This would have been the perfect project for you.” My gut told me he was right. I had just two weeks until deadline, but in that moment I knew that I had to go back and finish what I’d unwittingly started. Before the day was out I’d extended my overdraft and booked a 48-hour round trip back to NYC that very weekend. It was worth it. For my photography I got a 1st.
We’ve all had these moments where you make a split second decision to do something that impacts your life for the better in an unforgettable way. I’d LOVE to hear some of your self-orchestrated Sliding Doors moments in the comments below!
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE…