What if I all I want is a medium sized, slow, simple life? What if I am most happy in the space in between, where calm lives. What if I am just ok and choose to be at peace with that?
I always remember and cringe at my teenage years where I shouted at my mum ‘what have you ever done with your life, you’re just a mum. You do nothing’. When I think of think of how those words must have hurt, I want to slap myself. My parents pushed us all to succeed and I don’t mean that in a bad way – my dad was a self made businessman and my mum wanted ‘better’ for me. My mum used to even say: ‘don’t be like me, do more’.
The world is such a noisy place, full of pressure. Loud, haranguing voices lecturing me to hustle, to improve, build, strive, yearn, acquire, compete, and grasp for more. Be bigger and better. Sacrifice sleep for productivity. Strive for excellence. Have a huge impact in the world. Make your life count. #Noregrets.
I spent all of my teens, twenties and thirties trying to be better. Rather than determining my success through health and happiness, work and money were the yardsticks I measured life by. I couldn’t understand those that were happy with their lot unless that ‘lot’ was CEO of a big company/movie star and they lived in a beautiful home. During my career I sacrificed relationships, family moments and my health to get ahead, not really focusing on my end game.
I had to hit a scary low in order to admit: what if I just don’t have it in me? What if all this striving for excellence leaves me sad, worn out and depleted? Drained of joy. Am I simply not enough?
A little over a year ago I broke. I was doing the work of four people and heading up the global arm of a huge blue chip company. I was being told I was the most exciting digital person my company had ever seen and tipped for a promotion. I convinced myself that this was what I wanted; this was the answer to being happy and successful. However, I suffer depression, something work always distracted me from but the sadness and anxiety that came with feeling ‘I must do more’ drove me into darkness. The pressure I put on myself to be perfect, achieve everything and make no mistakes was overwhelming. I was like a machine when in the office but as soon as I arrived home I would break down. I won’t detail what I thought or what I did but I count myself fortunate that I am still here and that something, whatever it was stopped me from departing this chaotic world
What followed was six months of living in fear – of my own mind, the world outside my door and feeling like my heart was heavier than a dead weight, so sad that I had let people down and I was good for nothing. I lost all self confidence and belief that I was enough. I could barely do simple tasks like brushing my teeth or eating, choosing to stare into space and cry. Hard to believe that I was running a team, presenting to the board and managing multi million pound budgets a few months ago.
It took lots of counseling to understand that I am not perfect but I am ‘good enough’ and that my version of acceptable was much distorted. I started asking questions. What if I don’t become a Head of Department and command a huge salary? I am happy writing my blog and interacting with nice people rather than corporate egos. What if I cannot afford a big house and nice holidays? If I am doing a job I love then I won’t need to escape from it, much less ‘reward’ myself for enduring the day to day toil. Holidays and homes are about being with those you love rather than the Instagram photos you can take.
What if I accept my average body for how it is? I have boobs and a bum and I need to deal with that, enjoy that extra dessert, throw away those size 8 clothes that upset me every day and just be comfortable. What if I admit that I was and am really happy with my husband and was from the moment I met him? Somehow he kept faith in me when I treated him terribly and questioned our relationship. He stayed by my side when everyone else left and loved me when there was nothing to love.
What if I’m average at yoga and will never be as bendy as others? I enjoy it and should accept that falling on my face once in a while is pretty standard. What if my hobbies are all pretty geeky and non social media worthy such as watching TV and reading? I enjoy them and it relaxes me. I don’t do exciting things in my spare time or have mad skills that I can shout about on YouTube.
More than once someone has said to me ‘you’re not suited to this world’ which I used to question and chastise my gentility because of it. What if I’m not cut out for this frantic world, full of anger and pressure and accept it. I see others full of drive and ambition to succeed and I cannot keep up. I don’t want to keep up. I don’t have that sort of stamina. I have listened to myself. My body and brain gave me a warning a year ago so I have listened. I admit that I need solitude, calm and sleep to feel well.
What if I’m not sexy enough, not bold enough, not gregarious enough and not willing to fake it anymore? Breaking made me realize who I am and what is important; deadlines, profit and bonuses didn’t feature.
This intelligent introverted sensitive woman will have to be enough.
For many people in my old life this isn’t enough. I have been demoted at work to a position with less responsibility as my depressive episode has made them think that I am less capable of thought. But that’s ok as I can plunge my brain power into new, worthy and rewarding activities/jobs.
I have lost contact with the loud, vivacious friends that liked me when I was tanked up on alcohol, cracking jokes and behaving outrageously. I have lost any attention from strangers that would compliment me on my flawless mask of make up, expensive outfits and perfectly preened hair. But you know what; it doesn’t matter as I’m not meant for those people.
I embrace my limitations and love my mediocrity. I am enjoying finding out what I truly love, not stuff the world finds exciting or what will make me more likeable. I’m accepting myself, making peace with myself. I want a simple life, full of calm, medium sized wonder and average things. I want a quiet and beautiful calm that comes through acceptance.
Rather than chastise my mother all those years ago I should have been proud and in awe that she found her place in the world and carved her niche early. She was content being a wife, mother and keeping a happy home. Contentment is what we all strive for rather than relax into.
I know I’m not made for this world, I accept that, but rather than break and exit from it I’ll create my own world within. It will be enough.