I think I’m having an epiphany.
Is this what transcendence feels like?
In a previous post I mentioned my anxiety about turning 35. But instead of charging full steam ahead with a third-life (?) crisis, something amazing has happened.
I think I might understand life.
In the past month I feel like I’ve emotionally matured more than in my entire life. Suddenly I have clarity on what I want to do and be and how to get there – I don’t mean in a literal work or job type way, but emotionally. I can suddenly understand who I am already, and whom I am capable of developing into. I feel like I have opened a door to brighter, more fun, calmer, happier place, and I’m allowing myself to walk through it. It has always been there, but I’ve kept it locked.
Years of anxieties, challenges, worries and fears, I can see are about to start melting away for as I’ve searched deep inside my own mind, I have been surprised to discover how much, let’s call it, emotional inefficiency, has been looming in there. Nestled deep into my subconscious, it has been silently breeding and polluting my mind, clever in it’s ability to not make itself so tangible or large enough to consume me, instead opting to make everyday ma little harder and heavier. I feel I can see who I am in new light, and I realise I have been preventing myself from being the person that I would like to be, and do the things I want to do.
Why has this happened? Perhaps this kind of thinking was not accessible to me pre-35? Perhaps it’s because my kids are older? Perhaps it’s because my business is more established? Perhaps the journey of identity exploration, typically formed in youth years, now stretches way into the 30s and I’ve found the rainbow? Perhaps life now happens so fast, it takes years to discover problems you didn’t even realise you had? Or perhaps the result of my millennial generation, who choose to ‘kidult’ over adult have spent so much time swiping through one thing to the next we (I), became out of touch with who we are, or could be.
(Maybe it’s also because the sun came out).
I suspect, that the process of this happening has in fact been a perfect storm of conversations, alone time out of the country, reading and listening to thought provoking books and podcasts, as well as attending an emotional intelligence event in San Francisco run the School of Life (now that’s millennial). The stitching together of all these moments combined with me being truly ready this time to embrace this journey, meant that I kind of stumbled across this ‘epiphany’, and then very quickly realised found the answer to move forwards. The answer was right there in front of me all along.
The answer of course is, me.
Let me go back a few months first.
I am one of those annoying people who loves making New Year’s resolutions. Read this list of ridiculousness, taken from the notes on my iphone;
- Get into regular yoga routine
- Get back into doing Headspace app
- Be better at cooking, learn more recipes
- Eat less carbs
- Find out what you should eat more of instead of carbs – probably protein? Eat more protein
- Use less plastic
- Take vitamins (the ones that are good for skin and hair)
- Post more regular blogs
- Stop checking social media in the day
- Delete Instagram from phone when really busy
- Have more massages – one a month? Maybe also manicures?
- Stop biting nails
- Do a one-on-one activity with each child and no one else once a week
- Just finish your children’s book, submit to publisher
- Have more regular going out dates
- Remember people’s birthdays better
- Book all holidays in advance, take one every 3 months
- Stop worrying about people related to work all the time
- Have cash on me more
- Be a nicer person
Be a nicer person.
Be a nicer person.
I shared this, and only this, resolution, with anyone close to me who’d drank enough wine to listen, proclaiming that in 2018 I was going to become a nicer person.
‘Ummm, are you being really mean to someone that you need to tell me about?’
was my favourite response.
(I wasn’t, in case you were concerned).
It went onto become a running joke; ‘you can’t say that to me, you’re supposed to be nicer in 2018… you should probably do that for me seen as you’re a nicer person now’, and so on.
As a, (hopefully), established ‘nice person’, yes, I admit, the resolution was a little arbitrary and vague. But even though it was less tangible than practising yoga (3 sessions completed in 4 months, does that count?), regularly blogging (I mean, I’ve done 2 this year…), or taking vitamins (really excelling here), it was still the one I felt was most important. I kept coming back to it; whatever it took, I was going to find a way to be a nicer person.
I decided that being nicer compromised of being more present, less forgetful, more tolerant, making more time for people, rushing less, playing more, loving more, opening myself more often, stressing less, channelling energies in the right places and the ultimate holy grail: being less tired. As an adult, I feel like I have been massively underperforming in these areas over the past few years and can now see I have been carrying discomfort and dislike about it all that I wasn’t fully aware of.
Jumping from making that list to now I can see that ‘niceness’ was just a plaster title, a distracting word from what I actually want and need to do.
It’s not about being nice: it’s just about, being.
Just being. That’s all really. It’s hard to explain what I mean by that without sounding like I’ve joined some kind of tambourine shaking mindfulness cult, or smoking a massive joint. But I think what I mean is a deeper awareness and strong sense of self; a closeness to the mind and those deep corners of it and being active in shaping it to become more productive, calmer, happier…nicer.
I was recently presenting at a Google event on Millennial Parents and in this talk I was providing an insight into how millennials treat parenthood, and more broadly lifestyle, like a career. As the most educated adult generation, skilled researchers and pursuers of ‘meaning’ it means many of us are really into self-development and apply an ambitious streak to everything we do, not just work. As I was presenting, it suddenly occurred to me that this is exactly how I have been feeling about developing and learning more about the emotional side of myself. I feel ambitious and excited about what I can change and how I can live and feel differently in really exploring and developing my emotional self. I understand that for any consequential uplift in ‘niceness levels’, I need to invest in myself, and, no this is not a narcissistic millennial trait, its’ essential self-care that everyone around me will benefit from.
So, with a deep breath, I commit, and admit, here in writing here some of the mind-sets I have long been ignoring. They are not cute, modest, humbling or meaningful. They are in fact the opposite; vain, inward looking and unproductive and I am determined to put a stop to them. This begins all starting with this conversation with myself;
- I am incredibly hard on myself and think that I fail at most things >> I embrace and acknowledge that this is simply not true. Fist pumps.
- I look at images of myself in a very unhealthy way, I am a mean girl to myself >> This is completely unnecessary and needs to stop. So many wasted hours doing this, just delete a photo if you don’t like it.
- I am completely paranoid that people think that I have a big ego, am overly confident, selfish, and a show off >> well this is an utterly pointless use of time and energy. No one spends that much time thinking about you, you vain, crazy woman. If people do happen to think this, they do not know you and that is totally ok.
- I never ask for help when I really need it because I assume people expect me to have all the ideas and solutions >> people like to help, letting them in is smart and enriching, no one actually expects you to know everything. If people find out you don’t have a solution to something, they won’t instantly think you’re a fraud.
- I feel boxed into this super mum boss stereotype, and it’s an identity I feel a bit uneasy with, I feel like it’s one that already existed that got slapped on me, rather than one I created for myself. >> this maybe true, but ultimately is it a positive, awesome thing to be seen as and I should be grateful for that. But also, just another reminder THAT NOONE SPENDS THIS MUCH TIME THINKING ABOUT YOU.
- I hold back from my full and true potential because I fear people will think I’m an over achiever, be jealous of success, and worry about the impact it may have on how people see me>> this literally makes no sense and is ridiculous. Also, don’t assume anything you do will bring SUCH levels of achievement, that is insane you psychopath. As you already know, people in your life do react differently to success but that reaction lies with them and is not about you…because in case you’ve forgotten NOONE IS THINKING ABOUT YOU IN THAT MUCH DEPTH!
I have been wondering where to take this blog and what to do with it so I’m going to be capturing some changes I’m going to make to get to work on all this. Some will be tanigle things around real behaviours, some will be harder to see and more emotional. There are so many before and after pictures of physical transformations online, but it is harder to capture emotional transformations. I will try my best here in these characters I type to bring this to life as much as possible and share what works and doesn’t, I will visit areas I’m interested in developing from an emotional point of view such as social media, health and diet, body image, dealing with stress, identity, relationships, work and people.
Before I do so, I want to let go of something that I already know will hold me back from giving this journey my full attention right from the start: first world problems.
First world problems have become an amusing cultural reference and hashtag to describe catastrophic events such as Waitrose running out of Prosecco, the fury of tangled headphones and sitting on your designer sunglasses. It has surfaced admist an increasing awareness of our own privileges, and guilt, at the lives led in the developed world, in comparison to the horror that happens elsewhere. It’s a humorous and continual reality check, a note for us all to get some perspective, get over ourselves, and be more grateful. And, I’m onboard with that. However, on the less good side, I think it has contributed to a sense that we do not have the right, or entitlement to be unhappy, stressed, anxious or emotionally imbalanced. It facilities an ideology that we should be doing nothing else but skipping around making the most of our wealth, health and freedom, and that any problems we do have, are self-inflicted, a product of modern living and therefore, we only have ourselves to blame. When I don’t feel in a good place, I feel disgusted with myself and ashamed, that as someone who has been able to build a life the way I want, and has everything a person could possibly want, that I still find things that trouble me.
Alain Le Botton, best-selling author and ‘philosopher of everyday life’, opened The School of Life conference that I attended in San Francisco, by stating that first world problems are simply the problems that all humanity will face with time and that we are simply experiencing them first (think he was talking more emotional, less prosecco based). He noted that we all assume we should know how to deal with emotions that living in the modern world presents us with, that we are born and raised to know how to deal with everything from having a job, to being in love, to communicating, to using technology and so on. But actually, we still know so little; that the modern form of humans only evolved about 200,000 years ago, that civilisation as we know it is only about 6,000 years old, and industrialisation started in the earnest only in the 1800s.
When you think about it like that, it makes it easier to crack on start dealing with real things that effect you. There is no such thing as being entitled to emotional needs.
So, with that aired and batted away (see how emotionally efficient the new me is?!) I will unashamedly get stuck into it. I will be writing this for myself as part of the process to comit and make sure I am progressing, but sharing IS caring, so if you would like to, I would love you to join…and yes, to help me.