Bless me father, it’s been too long since my last proper blog post! The timing of that has coincided coincidentally with me starting a new job. Any creativity I possess has been redirected and procrastination time has been massively cut but a window of space over the festive period has opened up, a new year looms and i’ve been assessing my priorities, how i’m actually living my life and not just where work’s concerned.
There’s so much advice and smug preachery floating around on how to live. I’ve read so many of those “top 10 regrets people have on their deathbed” lists and paid heed to the wisdom bolstered by the luxury of hindsight. The big three that keep cropping up are:
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
- I wish I didn’t work so hard
- I wish that I had let myself be happier.
In addition to these major life considerations, everywhere I look i’m being told what to do in order to get the perfect abs, how to get rid of grey hair, how to minimize my dark circles, how much water I have to drink to stay alive, how many superfoods I should be fitting into my diet, how to dress for my shape, how to stay on trend, how to please everyone, how you’re mental if you don’t use a primer on your eyelids, how to be an all round perfect person in every aspect of your life, presumably to help avoid any more deathbed regrets or maybe the peddlars of this existence aren’t thinking that far ahead. Essentially it’s a minefield and a total juggling act energy and time-wise. I don’t even have children yet! Can I even have children?? Oh god, that’s a barren worry for another time.
As much as I might not buy into all the surface ‘advice’ out there, I do admit, I’m a sucker for motivational quotes as seen on instagram and pinterest, nodding along and doing the Ricky Lake-esque “ummm hmmmm” when something resonates so strongly, it’s as if it were written just for me. It all makes sense and feels wonderfully empowering in that moment: “I can bloody well do anything I want to do”, “I don’t give a hoot what other people think’, “tomorrow I’m going for a run BEFORE work”, “I’m totally making kale for dinner tonight”, “he had a receding hairline and couldn’t spell anyway so it’s his loss!”
These fleeting thoughts are all, valid and shouldn’t be scoffed at too much, even if they don’t always come to fruition; it’s crucial to strive to be your most excellent self because ultimately, only you have to live with you. Trouble is, for me, the obligations of life tend to stifle this ambitious and optimistic strategy of mine or am I just lazy?
Regarding said new job, I’m in the office 45 hours a week but also travel and run events over numerous evenings per month both at home and around the Gulf, also factor in out of hours messages and emails from my boss and others in various time zones. I miss that feeling of clocking off, as I’m potentially on duty around the clock, hence the desire to explore how I can achieve a healthy balance and separation between the two to prevent the scales tipping over into work mode. I don’t feel like i’m working too hard, I do enjoy my job albeit stressful at times but I highly doubt I’ll be marrying money and I certainly wasn’t born into money so work is what I must do in order to facilitate extracurricular joy and enable a decent quality of life beyond.
In addition to doing boring life admin such as washing, cleaning, cooking, food shopping and paying bills, I make time for exercise, foam rolling post exercise, reading, Netflix, spending time with friends and skyping my nearest and dearest around the globe. There are a few things not on that list that improve neither my mind nor my body, call them guilty pleasures, that I also somehow manage to find time for: drinking wine, sporadic smoking, watching Made in Chelsea, Instagram, engaging in lengthy Whatsapp chats, watching youtube videos, updating playlists on my phone, Googling Billie Piper’s style and general procrastination. These somehow seem to be the easiest things to fit into my schedule.
On a social note, when I was at Uni, I could do ‘the triple’- out Thursday, Friday, Saturday night and not be overly affected. Ten years on, a big night out also means being completely crushed under the weight of a horrible hangover the next day, as well as dealing with a heap of morose “what am I doing with my life?” Saturday dreads. I love a good party, a good drink and a good night out but as time goes on, I feel the dread induced headaches just aren’t worth the weekly commitment. It also seems a bit of a waste now of the only two days a week that I don’t have to spend at work. The irony of waking up midweek and thinking oh I wish I had time to go for a swim then failing to dip even a toe in the sea, which is right beside my house, throughout the whole weekend is not lost on me.
Essentially, I have no idea what the right way to do things is or what the perfect balance is for life but here are a few things that I’ve figured out work for me:
- Making small efforts every day rather than pressuring myself with unrealistic changes. As long as I feel i’m making progress, and realizing that there’s no end point I feel positive and motivated.
- Not putting things off in my work or personal life. It builds up and fills me with dread. Breaking it down and meeting it head on makes me realize it’s never as bad as I initially thought.
- Looking at the choices i’m making. If i’m really torn, I ask myself does doing it get me closer to the me I want to be or the me I don’t want to be.
- Learning to be on my own side and looking after myself. No one else has to look after me or be there for me including family and friends. This isn’t a bleak “we all die alone” thing, more just knowing that the better I am at relying on myself and my own resources, the easier i’ll be able to navigate situations when there is a bump in the road. Trusting myself, learning to be a friend to myself, and being proud of my accomplishments definitely gives me a better perspective and helps guide my actions and reactions.
- Being a good friend but not losing myself to please other people, even those I love. You’ve got to keep something back for you and not invest all of yourself elsewhere.
- ‘Mindfulness’ has become a bit of a spiritual buzzword but it is a very useful reminder every once in a while to take pause, see where you’re at, be grateful for the things you do have in your favour and just generally check-in with yourself.
- Don’t flog a dead horse, just let go. As an only child, I was a bit of a hoarder with toys and general ‘stuff’. I think this carried on into my adult life with people. After yet another life lesson thrown my way, I can happily say i’m dickhead free. I maintain relationships with people who want the best for me and whom I want the best for. People who make me laugh my head off and also whom I can talk to when it feels like life is falling apart. I’ve become more adept at seeing red flags early on, not wanting to fix people or nurture superficial bonds. That way lies madness!
9. Finally, it’s more than ok to lock the door, sit on the sofa and watch Made in Chelsea whilst drinking wine and eating crisps once every so often. Everyone must seek their own bliss!