I know it sounds cliche saying that life recently has been a journey, but I feel that I have learnt more about myself and life in the past year than I have in a long time. The universe seems to be screaming at me to make some changes. It started back last June when I experienced a very frightening anxiety attack. I talk more about the experience and the changes I made here.
After deciding to leave my marketing job following our wedding last August, life hasn’t exactly been plain sailing. Searching for a good quality part time job that doesn’t include evenings or weekends has certainly been a challenge. I’ve tried a couple of things since leaving my job at Henshaws and they haven’t quite worked out. But I feel like a wiser person for the experiences.
Things I had believed would really suit me if only I had the chance to pursue them, didn’t quite work out the way I had hoped. I discovered the grass isn’t always greener. Maybe the career I fell into during my twenties is much more suited to me than I’d imagined.
I often had itchy feet, would I find my calling as a midwife? Or as a teacher? Doing something totally different from the marketing career I’d carved out and fell into, half by hard work and half by chance. I often felt unfulfilled in previous roles; pen pushing and sat behind a desk for most of the day. I felt like I should be out there helping people, making a difference; changing the world.
When I made the big decision to take some time out from work, my husband was very supportive. Yes we had to cut back on some luxuries without two incomes but ultimately we weren’t exactly living on the breadline and could manage. It was a chance I’d never had, I’d worked and supported myself financially from the age of 18.
Time out to discover what I want, allowed me to learn a lot about myself. I realised it takes many years of hard work, sacrifice and dedication to carve out one of the vocational careers I’d pondered. I knew that I didn’t want any of it enough to make that kind of sacrifice. And in reality I’ve always been a good time girl, enjoying instant gratification rather than studying for something that would benefit me one day in the future. I’ve also realised that although I’m not saving the world in my day job, I’m using skills I enjoy in my marketing career, especially my love of writing. Maybe there was a reason I ‘fell’ into this line of work.
I also know for sure that my family is my ultimate priority. I have learned especially over the past year, what and who are important and what isn’t. And career wise, certainly for the foreseeable future my young family will always come first. I tried to carve a life that would make all the feminists proud. I tried to have it all; a career, a family and a glittering social life. But I crashed and burned and ran myself into the ground. My husband works long hours and is the main breadwinner, he often works away; leaving me to manage childcare and I basically run our household. That job in itself can’t be underestimated.
Striving for a balance
It’s been a dent to my ego to take a step back in my career to focus on my family but I know it is the right decision for us. I want one of us to be around for our children, like my Mum was always there for us. And it won’t be forever. Yes it will undoubtedly be more challenging to try and climb back up the career ladder in years to come (if that’s what I want), but definitely not impossible. There will come a day that my babies need me less.
I have also realised that being a full time stay at home Mum isn’t the right choice for me either. I didn’t think it would be, but I only had six months with Thomas until I went back to work, so I felt like some of those baby days were stolen away from me. I hated spending four long days away from him each week. The six months I have taken off with him recently have given me some of that time back. Although it’s a whole different ball game going from a baby who can only just crawl to a very energetic and headstrong toddler!
I’ve loved my time with him and I wouldn’t swap it, but it’s also made me realise that work is good for me. It’s good for my mind, good for my sanity. It holds me accountable, gives me deadlines and gives me a reason to dress up nice and be someone other than Mum for the day. I will always be Mummy first but I still want to keep a bit of myself, I think it’s healthy.
Finally after much soul and job searching, I have found a nice little part time role. Admin and Marketing support for a charity run nursery, 16 hours a week with lots of flexibility, exactly what I was looking for.
Yes it’s a step down, career wise and money wise but I know for this season of my life it’s the right thing to do. It involves much less responsibility, so hopefully will be better for my stress levels and I still get to spend two days a week with Thomas. And I will actually get two afternoons to myself a week when he’s in nursery which I know will be an absolute godsend.
One of the biggest things I’ll take away from this experience is don’t be too proud to go after what you need. Define your own success, don’t measure it by society’s standard of what makes you successful.
I’m just getting over a terrible virus which has knocked me for six and resulted in me almost being admitted to hospital last week. Although these experiences are tough, they really do give me a great sense of perspective. By always striving for more, I was taking for granted the wonderful things that were right before my eyes. Until your health is compromised, you really don’t know how lucky you are to have it.
I love the quote below which I’ve stumbled upon before, right now it rings more true than ever. We are all a work in progress, be brave enough to go after what you want and don’t ever settle.