WHY I’M MY OWN BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

I should preface this by saying that it isn’t a post about motherhood, or parenting, or Smalls. This is a post about me. I suppose, in some ways, it links to my journey as a mother but essentially, this is about me as a human and why sometimes I look at the world around me and I just want to scream. It’s a pretty personal post but one that I’m almost certain you, or someone you know, will relate to. 

When I was a child I was the one that worked hard, did my homework, excelled in exams, kicked ass on the sports field. I was what they called an ‘all-rounder’. I was told I would go far. My father thought I’d be a lawyer. I didn’t really think about what I’d be. I just did what I wanted.

I got excellent GCSE grades and the best A Level grades in my year at school. I went to University, got a 2.1 in English and American Studies. I dated good guys and I never got suspended or expelled and I was rarely in trouble. I wasn’t completely boring. I snuck out, I got pissed underage, I nearly got arrested for riding a shopping trolley down the streets of Windermere at about 4am but essentially, I was a good girl who was pretty talented at not getting caught doing the fun stuff.

So, when I left university I was pretty sure I had this ‘life’ thing licked. You know? I’d done everything that was expected of me and I’d done it really well. I still wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted to do but how could I go wrong? I’d ticked every box and I was destined for greatness and then? Well, then, nothing.

I took a job as Trimmings Buyer at Jaeger straight out of university which essentially meant I sourced buttons and labels. I enjoyed it but I was still young and wasn’t ready to settle into the 9-5 routine. So, after a year, I left to do a ski season. I hadn’t taken a gap year, so this was my compromise. I returned in the Spring and, having thought long and hard about what I wanted to do, I applied for a teaching course, a PGCE in English at Leeds University. I was accepted and a year later I was accepting my first teaching post and well on my way to career success.

Except that, after 5 years of teaching, two bouts of depression and stress related illnesses I left the profession. It was the hardest decision of my life but I couldn’t do it to myself anymore. I loved being in the classroom but I didn’t love the rest of the bullshit that came with teaching. So, I walked. People called me brave but at the time I didn’t think of it like that. I felt like it was the right thing to do, the honourable thing to do and the only thing I could do if I wanted to look after myself.

I landed a job touring with rock stars. Don’t ask me how – it’s a long and mind-blowing story but that’s what happened. I forged out a career writing copy and editing for a living as well and managed to scrape together a pretty decent living. I didn’t love what I was doing but I was glad not to be teaching anymore and I was financially afloat. I had more time, I enjoyed the flexibility of freelancing but there was a niggling worry, an annoying little voice in my head that was saying, ‘Really? You did all this to be ironing an old rock star’s clothes and living out of a suitcase?’ Sure, it looked glamorous but it wasn’t what I wanted to do and it wasn’t making me happy. It didn’t make me feel like I’d accomplished anything.

I was lost and I was getting older. I was unsure what my next move should be and what I even wanted it to be. What had happened to all the promises I’d been made? I’d believed them all and for whatever reason, I didn’t feel like it had worked out. Yes, I’d made my own choices when it came to taking jobs and leaving jobs but I’d made them for good reasons. I’d mostly made them because I was unhappy with my current situation. If I’d been told that I could be successful but I’d have to be unhappy, maybe I’d stuck them out but that wasn’t the line I’d been fed. I’d been told I could have it all so I kept looking for it all.

It was at this point that I fell pregnant with the Small and I suppose that this dissatisfaction with my professional life had a lot to do with the anger I felt at the fantasy of motherhood being so rudely smashed to pieces. Motherhood came as yet another thing that wasn’t what I was told it would be. I’d been told that if I worked hard and got the grades and was kind and nice to people I would get all the contentment and success I could wish for. I was told that when I had a baby it would be the most magical, life-affirming thing I would do.

I suppose the point of all this is to say that nothing is what it seems. Nothing. Picture on Instagram, idyllic marriages, successful careers, perfect parents. At 34 I’m working my ass off to find my ‘thing’; to find the my place in life professionally that makes me happy, that makes me feel content, that makes me feel like I’m kicking ass and fulfilling my potential. Maybe I needed to go through everything I have done in the last 34 years before I could do that. Maybe I was entitled and when it came to it wasn’t prepared to put in the extra mile. Maybe I just got lost or distracted or unlucky. Either way, I’m starting to fully understand why I haven’t felt completely at peace and why I’m killing myself being pregnant with a toddler and husband on tour working my ass off on the blog and the business. I’m doing it because it matters so much to me to make the blog work; to make my business work. Otherwise, I’m scared shitless, that I might get fifteen years down the line and not have anything I’m proud of to show to my kids and say, ‘I did this. This was me.’

So, on the off-chance that you feel the same way – a little or a lot – then know this. It’s not too late. It can’t be. I’m still living and breathing and last time I checked I’ve still got a wicked smart head on my shoulder and a soul full of ambition and spunk. Yes, it’s harder now that I’m older and a mama but maybe that’s what makes it so special. So, if like me, you’re still struggling to find what it is that makes you feel complete then have faith: there’s enough room for us all to have our own spotlight.

 

11 thoughts on “WHY I’M MY OWN BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

  1. Jane says:

    What a brave and honest bit of writing Cat. I think you are expressing what so many people of all ages are feeling so much of the time. At the age of 57, two children and many jobs/careers later I still feel it. Sometimes it is easy to overlook or not even notice the effect we have on other people. I will never forget the kindness and and support you showed me when I was in America that time. You helped make a truly awful situation just that little bit more bearable. I don’t think it is about what we do but about how we are with other people so in my book that makes you a bloody star!

    Liked by 1 person

    • catsims says:

      Oh Jane! America…all that time ago. Despite the circumstances it was THIS much fun having you as my roommate for a while! Thank you for your comment. It means a lot when people take the time to stop by and say hi. Big love to you all xxx

      Like

  2. Joy says:

    Completely relate with this. I switch between having days where I’m completely content with my lot and those where I’m so disappointed in myself for all that I should’ve been, it’s unbearable.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Maisie's mum says:

    Woah so much of this rings true for me, in fact I had this conversation with my other half last week, I sound pretty much like you throughout my youth, school, uni and I alway ‘expected’ I guess, to be successful in a career I loved! In my working life, I had plenty of ‘chances’ as I excelled at plenty of my roles but I always seemed to have an unhappiness in the end and move on to something different! I ended up giving up my last job which I loved after having my first baby and nursery didn’t work out for us. So here I am at home and dreaming of doing something for me. Love you post! Your last paragraph made me tear up but also feel inspired! Thanks x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Peckham_Mamma says:

    I love this! So honest. But you should feel disappointed. As I see it you’ve lived an interesting and varied life, full of stories and different experiences.

    And as for finding where you are going? I’m a massive believer in the idea that one day all the dots will join. Until then you are doing excellent job at balancing loads of different sides of yourself and allowing yourself to grow (whilst growing a human)… don’t under estimate what an achievement that is.

    All the love

    Me xxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Babes about Town says:

    Great post. You’re right about growing up with that sense of entitlement and feeling such confusion when reality bites (and it really does, a lot of the time). I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with the idea that nothing is as it seems. There is no magical time when everything just clicks perfectly into place and we sail (or strut) into the sunset.

    All of us, no matter where we are on our career or life paths, are muddling through on some level… it’s just finding the right people and support system, maintaining your sense of humour, and sticking to your core values that for me determines whether you’re a ‘success’. Sounds like you’ve had a rocking life so far, and glad you’ve found a voice in blogging too, it’s the perfect space to discover and rediscover yourself over and over 😉 x

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Patrick says:

    I don’t have a larger comment on this, but this rather jumped out…
    ‘Otherwise, I’m scared shitless, that I might get fifteen years down the line and not have anything I’m proud of to show to my kids and say, ‘I did this. This was me.’’

    Seriously, if my kids make it to 18 and they’re alive, healthy-ish, and not total screw ups, and they want to know what I’ve done with my life, I will tell them to look in a mirror.

    I suppose my point is this: I have worked hard (well sort of) at my job, and I’m immensely proud of some of the things I have achieved, albeit things that only mean something to people in my particular corner of academia, but I don’t expect any of that will mean anything to my kids. But then again, I also don’t think they’ll be asking…I think kids care about what kind of parent you were/are, not what else you did. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t care about other things, just that not having the career you want (yet!) shouldn’t be (yet another) stick for parents (and mothers in particular) to beat themselves with.

    More bluntly: preferably, let’s not beat ourselves up about our careers. If we must, let’s do on behalf of ourselves, qua adult people, not on behalf of our kids, qua parents.

    Sorry about the ‘qua’. I seem to have forgotten how to write like a normal person.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sar x says:

    Love your post, always honest and relatable.

    ‘The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives
    Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t’

    Baz Luhrmann

    Lots of love xxxxx

    Like

  8. Natasha says:

    Yes, yes – I can totally relate. I was desperate to actually have a vocation, a thing I wanted to do more than anything else but I didn’t. I ended up with a (fairly crap) degree, worked in admin for far too long, got an amazing break to work in telly with no prior experience but quit after 7 years because I just wasn’t enjoying it any more. It was only after randomly meeting another mother online and jumping on board her newly hatched business that I’m now doing a job that I’m enjoying and have a share in a business I’m helping to shape and grow (it’s addictive) – this was in my early 40s as well. So there is time, even when you’re an old biffer like me to have a complete change.

    Like

  9. Anonymous says:

    A friend has been raving about this blog, so I thought id take a read to see what it was all about. I am not in your position, so cannot judge the difficulties of juggling careers & motherhood, however you sound as though you’ve had an interesting, if not the expected, career path. Nobody can offer success on a plate, it’s down to luck in finding a vocation then hard graft, with courage to leave & start afresh if it has not worked out. You have by the sound of it found a man that loves you and you have had a child, a real blessing. There are, for many of us, no loved one to come home to & fertility is not a right for all sadly.
    From the outside at least, your life sounds far from disappointing, different maybe, but full never-the-less. I hope this offers a new perspective & possibly some positivity on your present situation.

    Like

  10. Amelia says:

    A friend has been raving about this blog, so I thought id take a read to see what it was all about. I am not in your position, so cannot judge the difficulties of juggling careers & motherhood, however you sound as though you’ve had an interesting, if not the expected, career path. Nobody can offer success on a plate, it’s down to luck in finding a vocation then hard graft, with courage to leave & start afresh if it has not worked out. You have by the sound of it found a man that loves you and you have had a child, a real blessing. There are, for many of us, no loved one to come home to & fertility is not a right for all sadly.
    From the outside at least, your life sounds far from disappointing, different maybe, but full never-the-less. I hope this offers a new perspective & possibly some positivity on your present situation.

    Like

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