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.