i made some changes

2017 has been a big year. I’ve changed jobs. I’ve changed cities. I’m trying to change me; it’s not going so well.

While all the changes have been stressful and I’m not sure that I fit in with the new job or the new city, I find that in the middle of what feels like a zillion people, I’ve found space. It’s been a few months and what this space has given me is the knowledge of how very lost I’ve become. I’m on the verge of not being mentally exhausted every day and I swear, it’s helped my eyesight. I might not be quite sure about what/who I want in my life but every day I add at least one little item to the list of things with which I’m no longer cool. Progress is being made.

I still can’t see the full path ahead but if I look back, I can see a few of my footprints in the dust. After so many years of not being sure where I’m from and definitely no idea of where I’m going, I begin to see a track through the weeds, a few flashes of fireworks, a glimpse of green branches and blue skies.

I can do this.

 

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bravery

So today, I should have been brave and I wasn’t. We’re not talking “stop the runaway bus” brave here, just your every day garden variety brave.

Today I was working a second job (a very infrequent one with people I hardly ever see) and because I didn’t want to disagree with those fleeting colleagues in front of a customer, I let some of them sell someone something that didn’t meet all their (the customer’s) requirements. As I said, it was a small thing but even now, hours later, I know I should have been braver. Calmly walking over and pointing out the shortcoming of the purchase might have stopped it. Or it might not, the shortcoming might not have been the reasonably-sized-deal I thought it was.

Things all worked out in the end, as the temporary colleagues helped the purchaser so they could still use the purchase (sorry for being so vague) but still I should have been brave.

Bravery and doing what you know to be right, no matter how small a matter, is a sign of a grown up.  I can’t go back and have a do over of today but I can make sure that next time, I’m brave.

I can do this.

 

 

accepting a compliment

I’m currently listening to Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. This isn’t a book I’d normally pick up because, you see, of all the TV shows that are part of Shondaland, I’ve watched exactly, well, zero. I pause for the horror that I can’t detail the plots of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal or How to Get Away with Murder.

Now, can I redeem myself with how very much I’m loving this book? I haven’t finished yet (this is another audio book for when I’m in the car or walking) but there’s so much to this book. Facing your fears, saying yes, realising that you’ve actually been saying yes to things that are bad for you and it’s time for a new yes and, the one that made me actually stop as I walked around a local park the other day: saying yes to compliments is a part of being an adult.

Rhimes was relating the story of a dinner where the accomplishments of a great many great women in her field were read out as part of the proceedings. And Rhimes noticed something awkward: every single woman either looked down, brushed the accomplishments aside, or laughed nervously. None of them, not one, including Rhimes, sat up, faced front and accepted the recognition as their due for their hard work, their skill, and their talent. So, post-event, Rhimes practiced accepting compliments, sometimes awkwardly, sometimes well, but always facing front, and saying “thank you”. As Rhimes notes, men do this all the time. Women? We say we’re lucky, that we’ve got a good team, the stars aligned. Whatever. You know why we got lucky? Because we worked hard to be in that place at that time. You know why we have a good team? Because we helped build it. You know why the stars aligned? See the answers to the first two questions.

Now, we don’t need to be a titan to have badassery. We’re all great at different things, the things we love, the skills we work at. In that one moment on a walk around a park, I realised that it’s not just okay to own those things, it’s part of being an adult. That in brushing aside compliments, I am standing in my own way.

Time to work on accepting compliments … and reflecting on where I’ve been saying yes to things that are bad for me. This is all part of growing up. I can do this.

You can hear from Rhimes about the power of yes in this Ted talk.

loving what you do

Out of all of the things I am aiming for in my life, doing something I love is high on the list. I don’t want to go through the next (at least) half of my working life unexcited. This was really brought home to me today, reading a news story about a 102-year-old researcher (not a typo, 102 and still going to the office four times a week) who was asked by his university to start working from home.

This story, while sad, was both inspiring and a timely warning for someone working out what it means to be a grown up. This dedicated man obviously found his passion. It still excites him so much that he’s willing to commute 90 minutes just to get to his office and talk to his colleagues! Honestly, I’ve loved working with some of the people in my various jobs but I have to admit, one thing I love about my regional city is the fact that nowhere is a 90 minute commute. I did once commute regularly to our capital city and that amount of time travelling just to get to work, that has no place in my grown up life. (Somewhere down the track this might require some compromises and planning.)

But back to the news story. The warning here is just as big as the inspiration because for this gentleman, work is still the centre of his life and he’ll obviously be lost without his workplace.

This is a big growing up lesson: work at something you’re passionate about but make sure you have other passions as well, just in case you too are asked not to come into the office any more.

You can read the original news story on ABC here.

I’ve been thinking (my list is incomplete)

It used to be that you were a grown up when you got married, had children, started the job that was going to lead to a gold watch when you finished. Or if you were a woman, started the job that ended when you got married, or at the latest when you had children. (Let’s pretend that doesn’t still happen, shall we?)

Anyhoo, you started the career, and you did all sorts of grown up things like marriage, children, buying a house,  gardening, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  The thing is, I’ve now gotten to 40 and I haven’t done any of those things and I’m starting to wonder what being a grown up actually means, for me.

I’ve been thinking on what I wrote last week. I’ve worked out that I have lived long enough to realise that while being a grown up is an internal standard for me, it’s also something that’s been influenced by my childhood, by my friends, my experiences.

So, what does it mean, for me? It’s definitely those same things I typed out earlier this month but there’s a bit more too. I’ve no doubt this list will evolve quite a bit in the next year or so.

From June 4, 2016

  • It does mean my own home (I want somewhere that’s mine)
  • It means setting myself up as best I can financially.
  • It means getting to the point of doing something I love, with people I respect, as part of my career.
  • It means making time for family and friends but not forgetting that as a serious introvert, time by myself is not selfishness.

From June 22, 2016

  • It definitely means silencing that voice in my head that always jumps to the worst case scenario.
  • It means a year’s worth of expenses in a savings account.
  • It means realising that to be happy, you have to work at it, give it a chance to flourish, and protect the time you dedicate to those things/activities/people that help you be happy.
  • It means working out why I procrastinate and doing something about it.
  • And … I’m not sure what else it means. I am sure working it out is all part of being a Grown Up.

That’s a fairly long list, when you start breaking it down into all the steps, or the reflection needed to work out the steps. I think in the next week or so, I’ll tackle the steps on the most practical item – setting myself up financially. I’m not going to magically have a house deposit, an “oh crap” fund and extra dollars for the superannuation but surely I can work out the steps I can take.

I can do this.

 

 

working on it

I know – it’s a big call: growing up, adulting, taking responsibility for shaping the rest of my life.

I’m not saying the last 40 years haven’t had some wonderful highlights (and some lowlights) but really, I’m not where I thought I’d be at this point. Truth be told, I’m not even sure I can recall where/what younger me I thought I would be at this point of my life. I think it involved my own house, a natural calm, money in the bank and fabulous holidays. I’ve grown up a little (thankfully) and I know that happiness, gratitude, family, friends and living are also important but the practical side of me knows that this is it: the turning point for somehow bringing it all together so that I can actually afford retirement and look back and be happy with my life.

I’ve been taking a poll (randomly) over lunches, during work break chats, when out for drinks, during roadtrips. Turns out being a grown up means a great many things to different people.

For some it’s being over 18. For others it’s paying your bills on time, being a good friend and calling your mum regularly. In every conversation, I wondered if that was all there was. Probing a little deeper and yes, my friends wanted to be happier, they wanted meaning but sometimes, just like me, they didn’t know what they wanted.

So, are all the trappings of being a grown up – the house, the car, the family (whatever size), the good relationships, holding down a job, paying the bills – are they actually the easy part? (Not that they’re easy either.) Really though, is this whole Grown Up thing just about being able to pay your bills and pick up the phone? I reflected on that and for me at least, it’s not.

When I’m (finally) Grown Up, I’d like to:

  • be doing something I love,
  • not have to schedule time for those I love because I haven’t over-committed myself,
  • have my own home (I’ve thought about it and I’d really like to achieve the Australian Dream),
  • know that I can afford to retire at some point.

So for the next year, in the interests of growing up, I’m going to focus on balance, on being healthier and happier, saving some money, getting back into some writing and general creativity.

I’m up for the challenge. I can do this.

time to begin

I want to experience all the colours of the rainbow. Just as soon as I decide what my rainbow actually is. That’s the issue you see, I’m not quite sure what I want to be when I grow up.

Ask me what I want and sure, I want to be a good daughter, a good friend. I want to do well at work, I want to make time to be creative, I want to read, drink coffee in the sun. But ask me what I actually want to be? I don’t know. When someone asks “what do you do”, I have a vague answer based around those things I do for my day job but more and more, I wish I had a different answer. I want to say I’m a writer, or a photographer, a … well, I don’t know.

So my question for the universe (the one inside my head) is: what do I want to be when I grow up?