The Grass is Always Greener...

21 July 2011
This morning I woke up with my hands completely numb, my feet swollen, unable to get back to sleep because of ligament pain. For a brief moment, I wished I wasn't pregnant, but getting up to go to work in a city skyscraper, then off to cocktails in a small bar. Then I caught myself - I used to have that life, and I didn't care for it at all. I've just been sucked into grass is greener syndrome, which seems to affect all those of us with a slightly pessimistic disposition; the belief that no matter what you're doing, doing something else would be more rewarding.

I've spent the past couple of years involved in community work and activism. People say it must be hard working with homeless young people but that's nothing compared with arguing with a council admin assistant who wants you to darken the stripes on the Mayor's tie in the mayoral head shot going in the council information column in the local rag which is your job to produce. Imagine your fifth phone call in an hour trying to explain that no matter the wonders of modern photo editing software, there is a limit to how much you can differentiate pale blue stripes on a tie against a pale blue shirt. That, let me tell you, that is the sort of day at the office that will drive a woman to drink. And I don't mean fancy cocktails either - I would come home a down a shot before dinner. Nurse, give me something to deaden the pain. No matter what I have to do at work now - convincing a teenager not to throw her education away, arguing with the Department of Housing on behalf of someone determined to live alone but not ready yet - at least it has a point. One day, when I'm gone, I might have made some sort of difference to the world.

So, I guess, does having a child. But I've had every pregnancy complication under the sun, and now have some sort of flu-like thing as well, and in my delirium I've convinced myself I'd like a return to something like my old life. Never mind that there was no hanging out in small bars - the cool people never asked me along, and I much preferred cocooning at home anyway - and the weekends were just awful, hours to fill with nothing but shopping for stuff I didn't need and drinking alcohol I could have done with out. Right now, all that independence and health - or at least, the energy to actually get up and head off to the city nicely groomed, and stay awake all day - seems pretty appealing.

What is it that makes us yearn for what we don't have, no matter how happy we are with what we've got? When I was childless, single, and earning decent money, I wished for a partner and kids. I've noticed that people with kids often view their childless days through rose-coloured glasses - remembering the weekends as a whirl of lie-ins, all day cafe breakfasts, and dinners out. They forget that these weekends may have only come along once every few months, and then you'd have to cancel because you were rostered on at work, or had to help a friend move, or were otherwise expected to drop everything because of the endless free time you were delighted to have filled by your partnered friends.

But this post isn't actually about having children vs the childfree life. I've been wondering about the phenomenon of wishing and wondering if life could have gone a different way, the natural "Grass is Greener" syndrome almost all of us experience. It's not just work for me - what if I'd stayed in Newcastle? Bought that flat? Travelled? Not mailed that letter? I'll never know. What about you, reader? What do you wonder about, what would you like to change?


  1. variety is the spice of life. do one thing, or dont do something for long enough and you end up wishing for more or less. balance is what's lacking, maybe?

  2. Maybe eight months without alcohol has just sent me nuts.


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