I’ve been feeling restless recently, resentful, like I’m missing something. I thought maybe it was my job – that it wasn’t “right” for me. I browse job ads obsessively, looking for something that will spark enthusiasm in me, something that will make me stop and say, yes, this is what I need to do. I love my job, really, but I also hate it. There’s something not quite right and I don’t know what it is. I want something more, something else. I want to reclaim something that I feel I lost.
Thing is, so many of my friends feel this way. So many. I loathe using the M word but I think it might be a millennial thing. And I think it might just be choice. There’s too much of it. The internet and social media have given us access to too much. So we’re always chasing, always searching, never sure if we’re in the right place or doing the right thing and feeling like we’re treading water.
I’m sure previous generations had these issues too (mid-life crisis anyone?) but it feels more acute, this existential self-awareness. Back in the good old days, more often than not, you got a job and you stayed with it and you didn’t expect it to provide you with anything other than your pay.
Not so much now. It’s not good enough to just have a job; you have to do something that fulfills you. It has to give you meaning and purpose. “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Thanks for nothing, inspirational quote. We spend so much of our time at work, of course you want do something that matters to you. But dear god, what is that something?
I attended a leadership summit a few weeks ago and one of the key things that kept coming up was know yourself, your values, your strengths and your purpose. I just keep thinking of Avenue Q. Lots of talk about how once someone figured out what their values and purpose was, everything became a little simpler, they made better decisions. Very little insight into how one might actually find said purpose.
I like my job, for the most part. I find certain things frustrating but that would be the same in any other job. I just know that there are certain parts of my role that I’m not strong in, and it would be better if there was someone else who could do it. But since my role is the only one doing the kind of work I do, I’m stuck doing things I think I’m no good at, which in turn makes my poor perfectionist heart want to cut itself into bits. So what do you do? Wait it out and hope that they’ll eventually expand the area so you can get someone to work with you who excels at the things you’re bad at? And then there’s the paranoia about being replaced.
Every personality quiz or work placement quiz I take tells me I’m in the right role for my personality and style. Is it just accepting that you’re not always going to be great at everything and you’re never going to enjoy everything you do? Thing is, it’s fine now but my role needs to grow into something else, it needs to become something else to deliver real value for the company, and that role that I’m driving it towards is not a role I really want. It’s going in a very Business Intelligence direction and I can do it, I just don’t really want to.
At the end of the day, the things I truly enjoy doing are not things that will pay bills. And I’m usually too knackered coming home from work/gym to do anything I enjoy doing. But I think this is really the crucial point here. Maybe it’s unfair to put all that expectation on a job, to expect it to fill a void on its own. The things I dislike about the role would perhaps not grate so much if it wasn’t bumping up against an absence of something I can’t articulate. The frustrations and petty grievances perhaps say less about the job and more about me, and a need to add more to my life, beyond work and home and work and home and work and home ad nauseam. I need to find a new wholeness. I need to find the version of myself that belongs completely to Wellington.
Or maybe I should just become a librarian. Fuck it.
To let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen … to love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee[…]to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we’re wondering, “Can I love you this much? Can I believe in this this passionately? Can I be this fierce about this?” just to be able to stop and, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say, “I’m just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I’m alive.” And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we’re enough. Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says, “I’m enough” … then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.
I’m sitting in my parents’ house in Perth for what’s likely to be the last time – next time I’m here, they will probably be in the brand new house they’re building. Isn’t that exciting? They’re very excited. It’s my last night in town before I head back home tomorrow and so I thought it fitting that I do the usual year in review post before the new year breaks.
Let’s start with home – home, what a concept. I felt like I was home when I stepped through the door on Saturday to be greeted by a happy pup and a glowing Christmas tree. But I simultaneously miss home, my home, the little part of the world that’s wholly mine, the life I’ve carved for myself and the people I have carved it with. It’s complicated, this adulthood business.
Surely we can all agree that 2016 has been a pretty insane year in the wider “the world is on fire” sense. Everything’s gotten scarily nationalistic and as someone who has spent most of her life drifting from country to country, this kind of PATRIOTISM4EVA attitude generally just confuses the hell out of me and makes me horribly depressed. So yes, I’ve been sad and alarmed by things like Brexit and the US Election and even Australian politics being a bit shit. But it’s also made me realise what I really care about, what my values are. I used to think I didn’t really care about anything (side order of nihilism please!) but turns out that’s not true. Mostly I’m angry. And I’m not afraid to speak up about things any more because if this is the way the world’s going, we need to speak up. And we need to do things. Otherwise, how can you complain?
I feel very lucky to live in tiny old New Zealand. A beautiful country that lots of people forget exists, and where the biggest political issue was whether or not to change the flag. I mean, if that’s the biggest problem in a country, things aren’t that bad. (I’m being facetious, I know there are real issues, but comparatively speaking those issues aren’t that bad.) I’m thinking of getting NZ citizenship, as soon as I’m eligible, so I can have a say in things when needed. Having AU/NZ dual citizenship is possible the most pointless combo but both feel like home so…whatever. I love NZ and it’s been good to me, really, if you ignore the recent shaking. Oh dear lord, the shaking. Do not want.
Now let’s do the really superficial monthly recap thing! Woo!
After spending Christmas in Napier with the bf’s mum, things got off to a very chill start with a glorious summer in Wellington. We went to the Wellington Cup Day races where we were hosted but none of our horses won. Sigh. Another memorable moment was Dom visiting which gave me an excuse to visit the Weta Cave for the billionth time, and I also got to introduce him to rugby sevens at the always awesome Welly Sevens (people say the Sevens are dead and the media like writing about how terrible it all is, but they’re all wrong, it’s still heaps of fun).
I don’t really know what I did in February other than work, hang out with mates and go to bootcamp at a ridiculous time in the morning…I did go to Perth towards the end of the month though, to spend time with the parentals and get lots of puppy cuddles. I realised that spending two weeks at the familial home was just a little bit too long.
March was bad for me, not gonna lie. I had a bit of a depressive slump and struggled to get out of it well into April. I don’t like being sad, but what can you do? It also meant the bf saw me at my absolute worst and somehow he still managed to stick around through the crying and the silences and general mental instability. My knee jerk reaction was to run screaming for the hills, and I really had to fight that flight reaction cause part of me thought I’d have to break up with him as an act of self-preservation. But I didn’t, thank fuck. Thanks for nothing, brain. Wasn’t all doom and gloom though – work wife and I went to the Wedding of the Year and I took the bf to see Sufjan Stevens perform Carrie & Lowell in its entirety which was a hundred shades of amazing.
Still mostly depressed but improving. Still going to hideously early bootcamp sessions. New job was created at work which I applied for and somehow managed to get. Woo! Absolutely delighted to move teams because I was losing my mind in my previous team and wanted to do more analytics and less social media. Save me from the crazies on social media! So that was definitely a highlight. Another highlight was the big dog walk with lots of dogs which was exactly what it said on the tin and meant I got to pat dogs. Always a win.
No longer depressed – yay! I started making more of an effort to take care of myself which included signing up to My Food Bag to take the stress out of meal planning (lord how I loathe thinking about food) and also getting a cleaner once a month. This made me feel painfully middle class but also meant I stopped feeling guilty about not cleaning and overall that was a big help. Also started using the awesome Go To skincare range which smell divine and is an all round delight. And also rugby was on again so nights at the stadium were on the cards.
Just work. So much work. Work, work, work…and a trip to Dunedin! Woo! It was my first visit and I thoroughly enjoyed the little Edinburgh vibe.
Things got off to a pretty shit start with my grandmother passing away. She’d been ill for a long time but I was still devastated. In the last six years, I’ve lost three amazing, kind, generous grandparents and it sucks. It just sucks. My grandmother passed away just before I was due to leave for my trip to Europe but the guilt of not going to the funeral was somewhat mitigated by the fact that I was engaged in a (still ongoing) battle with South African immigration which means I’m unable to actually go to the stupid country. Ugh. So I disappointment my family yet again and went to London via Vancouver instead. But with good reason since it was Wedding of the Year: UK Edition time! And what a beautiful wedding it was. Also had the pleasure of catching up with good friends on a day trip to Paris and just generally enjoyed hanging out with awesome people.
The Hurricanes won their first ever Super Rugby title and I was there! Getting frostbite, but hey whatever, history! The bf and I celebrated our first anniversary. It was adorable. We’re disgusting. We’re that couple who plays with each others’ hair in public and say stupid things. If it makes it better, we are ashamed of ourselves. I never thought I’d ever be that person, but here we are. This was also, of course, Olympics month which meant lots of working upstairs in our lunch room in front of the TV. I love how everyone starts caring about the most random sports. So much fun. I also worked a Test match which was stressful but very enlightening. So many moving parts to make that shiz work. So. Many.
I rediscovered my love of the library and read a lot of books. Also played a lot of board games. That’s literally it.
Work was stupidly busy which meant a lot of weekends at the office. But it was also fun with dive bar gigs by bf’s friend’s band, and a purely delightful Harry Potter themed cocktail night at one of my favourite bars. Bf got a new job so that was very exciting for him and a bit sad for me since I couldn’t just pop downstairs to see him whenever anymore. Also realised a friend of ours had never seen Lord of the Rings so took it upon ourselves to host her for a marathon. We only watched the first one. She needed a break. Not everyone can nerd like me haha. I also had to go to Sydney for a lightning quick work trip. It happily coincided with mum’s work trip so we got to hang out and have dinner and it was just all round awesome. Made it back to Welly in time for a superhero themed Halloween extravaganza. Loads of fun. Hangover the next day, not so much.
It started off just fine with fireworks and movies with my work wife and then we had an insane earthquake and everything went to shit. For one thing, I do not cope well with earthquakes, as it turns out. I was terrified. Anxiety levels were through the roof. And then we couldn’t get back into our building cause the one across the road was a threat. So it had to be demolished. At first the work wife and I just worked out of her husband’s office which has the benefit of ocean views and a dog, but then work sourced alternate digs for us and we got stuck working out of the cold concrete dungeon that is the stadium. Very kind of them to host us, but still fucking miserable. Everything was grey and fenced in and cold. I felt like I was walking to a POW camp every morning. Dramatic, me? Never. AND WE WERE THERE FOR FOUR WEEKS. FFS. At least November ended with my birthday so that’s always nice. I took the day off to treat myself and it was a solid life decision. 10/10. Would recommend. Also FYI, saw Fantastic Beast (twice) and loved it.
“December is for cynics, December is for critics.” I love Christmas and despite the reluctance of pretty much all my friends in Welly, I insist on acting like an idiot. So I was delighted when the work wife donated her old Christmas tree to me rather than the dump. There’s no real room for it in the flat but it made me ridiculously happy. My team had a Christmas party on a boat, which I hated thanks to my chronic sea sickness. Work had a Mexican themed Christmas party that was borderline inappropriate. I made very little effort and had a nice enough time without nursing a hangover, so I consider it a win. And we were also finally, finally, allowed back in our building. I never thought I’d experience such joy going back to the office but it was such a relief. I celebrated by baking cookies for everyone, and cupcakes for my workmates to take home. So domestic. Who even am I? I arrived in Perth late on Christmas Eve and I have been spending my time relaxing, reading in the sun and cuddling my pup. It’s been great and I know I’ll miss my fab little family when I leave. But tomorrow I head back to Wellington and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t look forward to getting back to my life, my bf and my friends. This cross-continental living is a drag.
Overall, I just feel lucky to have what I have. Enjoy what’s left of the holiday season and let’s hope 2017 is good to us all.
Sometimes when people refer to me as an adult, I have to stop myself from looking around and going “What? Where??” and then running away. It’s weird. And from a number of articles and blogs I’ve seen over the year, I feel like it’s a pretty common feeling. Last time I was home I asked my mum when the switch actually flicked and you became an adult and she was like …*shrug* So, y’know, that’s comforting.
Part of my problem is that I’ve spent the last ten or so years feeling largely transient. First, being a student, and then living on a working visa, and then moving back with the parents for a couple of months before randomly running away to New Zealand. Living this way doesn’t lend itself particularly well to feeling in control of shiz…and it also doesn’t lend itself to looking after yourself very well.
I’m also not particularly kind to myself. I don’t think I have a bad self-esteem but, like most people, there are some days where I just don’t like myself very much. And I don’t want to catch my own eye in the mirror. And I’m a perfectionist (an actually diagnosed one, not one of those job interview weakness ones that have no idea what the crippling self-loathing is actually like) so I can be incredibly hard on myself. It’s so hard to learn and grow when you don’t allow yourself room to fail. It’s ridiculous.
Point is, I came out of a particularly rough depressive patch at the start of May and decided enough was enough. I had to stop living like a student. I had to take control of my life. I had to look after me, properly. I had to at least attempt to be a functioning adult. I’m 28 with a decent job…I don’t really have an excuse.
Today, I woke up feeling pretty damn good about myself. I got three compliments before I even sat down at my desk about how nice I looked even though I had dry shampooed my hair this morning and I’m wearing the same stripey shirt I’ve worn at least once a week since December. Maybe, just maybe, the changes I started making back in May are paying off. So I’ve decided, going forward, I’ll share the things I’m doing to try and feel more comfortable in my own life, and which have proved to be a real asset as work spirals into the stressful mess it always is this time of year.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really know what I’m doing, and some things I’ve tried haven’t worked and I beat myself up over it accordingly before moving on. BUT I think I’m making progress and writing it down will help keep me honest. So stay tuned!