What I’m Leaving Behind

This is who I am, this is who I’m not

It’s taken me until now, when I am almost 40, to admit in public that there are voices in my head. They talk to me frequently — and I am going to start trusting them.

Right now, they are telling me a couple of distinct things.

First — Slow Down

After a long, and ‘successful’ career in experiential marketing, punctuated by more than one (let’s try and hide it and call it something more palatable) episode of full scale burn out, I am now embracing my mid-life crisis as a time to question everything I thought was true. A time to redesign my life so I can thrive.

After years of being responsible, capable, the woman who ‘did it all’, who believed that she needed to be invincible — perfect, client friendly, efficient, thorough, detailed, all knowing, inexhaustible — I have decided to change the words that I associate with myself.

Because what good do the words above do me?

Are they words that I would want a friend to use to describe me?

Are they words I want my children to grow up feeling like they need to take on?

The voices in my head are shouting a clear, resounding NO.

The voices are telling me to rest, to take some time for me, for my family, for my friends, so that I can start to own and inhabit much more inspiring words, like brave, adventurous, spirited, loving, connected.

Second — Tell them what you want

Not ask them what they need. Not ‘how can I help?’

As the years passed at work, I took on more and more responsibility. I thought that was what I was meant to do. And as I kept delivering, the responsibilities and requests just kept growing, the weight of expectation crushing my spirit and joy.

I stopped being brave and instead decided that it would all be better if I just kept trying to be perfect.

I stopped feeling empowered and instead simply acquiesced to what was expected of me, as that was easier, more practical, more ‘what grown ups just have to do’. None of this playfulness of youth.

And yet, I knew. Deep down, I knew that I was on a path to nowhere good. The voices kept telling me, I just didn’t trust them enough to do anything about it.

But then at some point earlier this year, something snapped and I realised I could carry on ignoring the voices, and simply wait, expectantly, for the next burnout (and repeat) or I could try and find a way to listen to them, give them their space and time, learn from them and then act on them.

I stumbled upon my wonderful coach (right time, right place) and she made me realise that I could choose. I didn’t have to keep asking others what they wanted me to do. I could decide for myself.

So now, at every given opportunity I am going to tell ‘them’ what I want. I am going to be brave. I am going to direct my life the way I want. I will no longer accept being told what I ‘should’ do, or what is ‘expected’ of me. I will take up my own space, raise my own voice and determine my own future,

And I will do it slowly, step by step. Because I have realised that this life is not a race to the end, but a journey to be savoured — and from here on in, I plan to enjoy every sweet step, wherever it takes me.

So, who am I now? And what am I leaving behind?

I am a long term, work in progress.

I am a brave and adventurous working mother of three small children, who has just up’d and moved her life from London to Shanghai — because, why not?

I am a life and career coach who believes that ‘life’ should not start when the working week ends.

I am no longer ‘The Fixer’. I am not the answer to all of your problems.

I want to decide my life step by step, piece by piece. To create the time and space to be brave and adventurous, to be spirited, loving and connected.

I am leaving behind perfectionism. And workaholism. And the idea that if I just tried a little bit harder, stuck with it a little bit longer, it would all be okay and I would be happy.

And I am, for now, peaceful, grateful and joyful.

Originally published at medium.com

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