Following on from my ruminations over success, I’ve been thinking about how our days are so controlled and whether that matches up to our own feelings of being able to manage and enjoy life.
I have always valued time far more than I value money, though I am always in a position where I have too much of one and not enough of the other. The balance flips quite regularly but never seems to plateau.
A lot of our perception of time comes down to structure, routine, being organised and of course, managing our expectations and comparisons. Anxiety, for me, starts the minute I get up and continues throughout the day, quite often disturbing my sleep. Anxieties are wide ranging and not always to do with how my day pans out but, I think, money, work, family time and time for myself all contribute to the sometimes suffocating worries I contend with.
Some years ago I built a career as a restaurant and bar manager for a local business, I worked all day, every day, prioritising my job over most other things, I loved it, loved the fast pace, the responsibility, the feeling of being respected and looked up to. When I became pregnant I left my job, knowing that I couldn’t continue the hours or keep up the work and being confident that I wanted to spend as much time as possible with my tiny girl, my personal goals shifted overnight and the overwhelming love I had for the person growing in my tummy overtook everything I thought I knew. With all the best intentions in the world (I baked cakes and sold them from home) I had to return to work when she was just 9 months old, we couldn’t manage without an income and circumstances meant that I had to be the one bringing home the bacon (another story…) I knew that I wanted a job close to home that didn’t demand extreme or unpredictable hours, also, my daughter had to come first, I needed the time to be with her, 9 months was too soon in my opinion to go back to a full time job and it’s a decision I will always regret.
So. I found a job in the local opticians, took on a 37hr contract and made the best of it, financially, we were still in a pickle but we were managing. Without realising, I started to climb the ladder and took on extra responsibilities. Around this time, my home life fell apart, my daughter and I moved out ready to start another chapter on our own. I continued working, climbing and felt as though I had got it all sorted, my daughter (now 2) was in nursery, doing fantastically well and for a couple of months the balance was restored.
The trouble with life is that it sneaks up on you. It wasn’t until I was on a train, heading to a meeting that I realised. Absolutely nothing I was doing was what I wanted. I didn’t have the time I wanted, I didn’t have the job I wanted, I had isolated myself entirely, didn’t have time for friends. Suddenly I knew, I had to get out, had to make a change (again). Unfortunately, trains are probably the worst places to have such revelations and I had a panic attack.
True to my thoughts, I left my job and immediately felt relieved, I spent a few months just concentrating on myself, my daughter, our home and my aspirations. As much as I want to be her role model I don’t always think that good examples are set by not being available. I wanted to be available.
During this time I wrote lists, I explored options, I visited friends and family, I volunteered at my daughters pre-school, I thought about all the things I was good at and how to make that work for me. I’ve always loved creating, making things, writing, making things look beautiful. My own experiences of life have also given me a passion for helping those who can’t get to a happy place.
I realise this story is going on a bit now, when I planned it I hadn’t accounted for so much rambling…
Next step. Get a job in a school. So I did, focusing on those students who need more, who might not be having fun at home or school, who don’t have the direction, drive, ambition, opportunities or abilities that others might be blessed with. I loved it, I met the man of my dreams and again everything slowly fell back into place. But, I wanted a little bit more, I felt restricted in the education system and wanted to give more, to help more, to achieve more. To make an impact. So I moved, to a school who offered me a more holistic position, including mental health needs, family liason and more responsibility. Then. after 18 months, funding was cut, schools everywhere put their hands up and said “sorry, we just can’t afford anyone any more” and thousands of people across the country were made redundant. Ouch.
I was back to square one, who am I? What do I want? How do I get there? How is this affecting my daughter?
Nearly 6 months on I have 2 jobs that I mainly do from home, managing my time is still hard, I write lists, I write diaries, I try everything to make my day as productive as it possibly can be, I still get to do what I love, mentoring young people but I’m not in education, there’s more scope for me to make an impact. And. Most importantly, I’m here for my daughter, I can take her to school, pick her up in the afternoon, I don’t miss a parents evening, I’m here all morning and all evening, our relationship is the most beautiful it’s ever been. It’s what I wanted?
Perhaps it’s a personal affliction that I am never satisfied, that I always want more, I’m always two steps ahead. In addition, I still have no money. Literally, none.
Originally I meant to write about people’s loves, their ambitions, their hobbies and how these can be incorporated into the day, ensuring that we stay positive, doing things that we love but managing to succeed in all the aspects of life we can’t avoid; bill paying, putting food on the table etc.
I suppose, life and the journey that we are all on means that we cannot predict what will happen, what gets us through one day might be completely different to what gets us through another. It goes back to my previous post and how everything is so personal, we hear and see all the things we’re “supposed” to be doing but for whatever reason we’re not doing them and we feel guilty.
Today, I took my daughter to school, I wrote in my journal, I worked for an hour, I wrote this post and now I’ll return to working. I hope to be able to complete all the things on my list but I know it’s ok if I don’t. I’m getting myself through the day and I know that any moment things could turn upside down and change again. Unpredictability is scary but it’s probably the only thing we can predict.