Just the other day I was thinking about 1979 and how it was a year of major changes in my life, when I realized it was forty years ago. I simply couldn’t believe it!
A decisive year
First of all, it was a year of learning. I learned about love but also about disappointment and grief. New people came into my life that were very important for quite some years: I gained a new love, who would mean a lot to me in the forthcoming years, and with whom I shared many happy moments but who also brought me heartbreak and tears; I met a new group of friends, who were different and fun to be with and above all made me laugh; a whole new world of music opened up before me, that of New Wave and Punk Rock, and I can picture us all in my friend Rocha’s roofless Citroen Dyane with the radio on – and very loud too –singing along with Blondie and the Ramones and so many others…
Most of all it was my last year of high school which meant I would have to make a choice about the subjects I wanted to study and ultimately the university I wanted to go to. For years I had planned on taking up languages so that I might become an interpreter, but at the last moment I changed my mind and chose law, and so decided to apply for the best – and thus hardest to get into – Law University. This meant I had to study hard, very hard for there were many candidates for only a few places. Like a true Capricorn – what you want you work hard to get – I persevered and had no summer holidays that year, but I got in and it was, so to say, my first major “career” achievement.
The girl who wanted to have it all
Forty years ago I was sixteen and already ambitious: I wanted to have it all. Don’t we all? I wanted to find a great love, and we’d marry and live happily ever after; I wanted to have a successful career, that would bring me personal fulfilment but also money so that I might live comfortably and do all the things I enjoyed doing, such as travelling to nice places, buying clothes, living in a nice neighbourhood, going out to places with my friends…I wanted to conciliate the personal and professional sides of my life. I knew I had to work hard to have it all but I was not afraid. I could do it! And so I worked, and those years of university proved to be the best of my life. Not only did I achieve my ambition of graduating there, but I enjoyed life to the full when I was not studying for my exams as well.
Always striving to find the one true love one day I thought I had found it. I married, pursued my career, eventually had my children and always managed to conciliate everything, as I had always hoped to. There were times when it seemed I really had it all; then there were times when I lost something along the way, such as the moment when I had to admit my marriage had failed. But then all the other things in my life were there; love crossed my path again, and life went on and somehow some of the things I had so badly wanted didn’t mean so much to me anymore.
The new meaning of “all”
A few years ago, maybe around fifty, I began to change. Maybe it was the fact that I began writing my book, and later this blog, that made me think there were other things in life besides an executive career. Although I still enjoyed some of the aspects of my job suddenly it was not so much about being in competition or striving for power but so much more about doing things that pleased me and keeping a more discreet profile; glamorous business trips and events no longer excited me as they used to and the limelight lost its lustre. The plots of the corridors of power no longer interested me; on the contrary, I began to loathe them and try to keep away as much as I could. Suddenly I wanted to lead a quieter life, with more time – quality time – for myself, my family and my friends. I wanted time to write, to have a quiet coffee with a friend, to relax, to simply do nothing; to walk calmly on the street and sit on a terrace watching the passersby while getting some sun on my face and just feeling happy to be there. I no longer wanted to run from one place to another, always checking my emails or answering the phone, running through airports not to lose the plane connection and sleeping in so many places in one week that sometimes it was hard to remember where I was.
Finally I understood that I wanted to change my life.
Somehow this need for change was transmitted to the universe and it came back with an answer. I was offered a possibility to change my life, a possibility of a new beginning. Which I have gladly grabbed with both hands. This year, four decades after such a decisive year, I will face a major change again. Who knows, it might be just as important for the rest of my life as that one forty years ago. I will be able to slow down; while keeping some of my old projects, begin a few new ones that will be so much more fun to do, with such interesting people. I will finish and publish my book (rather, the first volume) and hope it conveys a strong message to my readers, while being enjoyable at the same time. And I will certainly have more time to live, to be in the open air, to chat with my dear friends, to support my darling boys and, ultimately, to enjoy life so much more.
I say to myself – yes, Teresa. Like forty years ago, this is a new beginning. You have had it all; career, love, travels, friends, and, most important, good health; your marriage was unhappy but in turn it gave you the greatest loves of your life – your sons; your career was all you had dreamt of and more. Now you are embarking on a new phase.
As I listen to Jason Mraz’s beautiful and highly motivating song “Have it all” I secretly smile and think that someone, somewhere, maybe in another dimension, is sending me a strong message through this song. I silently nod, and sing along. I’ll go on fighting for what I want, as determined as always. I still want to have it all. It is just that the meaning of “all” has changed.