I haven’t sat down to collect my thoughts in I don’t know how long, and I’ve had the nagging feeling that I was in need of some reflection to centre myself again. So here we go.
I’ve been busy getting my life sorted here, which has forced me to make several emotionally exhausting decisions about what I wanted my life to be for the next year. Did I want to work or travel? If I travelled, where to first? And how? If I worked, would I be career-minded or say fuck it and do something else? Would I swear off men for the next year or be open to dating? If I did date, what would I be looking for? And if casual turned serious, would I be okay with that? Wherever I ended up, where would I live? Would I do the backpacking thing and stay in hostels indefinitely? Or would I find a flat?
Needless to say, deciding my next move was challenging. I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted, and once I did figure it out, the wait felt endless. Limbo is a hard place to be. I was biding my time, waiting for the experience to start, when, in truth, limbo is part of the experience. It was good for me. I think everyone should have that kind of up-in-the-air experience at some point in her life.
But in the meantime, my bank account was draining quickly, and as time dragged out, I began to panic. Sydney is one of the most expensive places in the world to live, and it had to be the one place I ended up while unemployed. But aside from a few relatively minor freak outs, I’ve mostly kept faith that it would all work out.
Being without any anchors, being free to do whatever I want, forced me to take a good look at myself. Work used to define me, but I was unemployed for a month, and surprisingly, I didn’t stop being me. The time away from work just gave me an opportunity to focus on other areas of my life and to appreciate parts of my personality that don’t often appear. So I went hiking, lounged on the beach, played pool, drank a tiny bit too much, enjoyed the simple act of kissing another human being, and listened to the stories of other like-minded travellers.
In all that, I realized the backpacking life isn’t really what I want during my time in Australia. As romantic a notion as it is, working in a surf clothing shop on a beach would be fun for all of a week before I grew tired of it. And backpacking without an income or savings to fall back on would stress me out, which would kind of defeat the purpose.
So in reality, I want the corporate life. I’m good at it. I like being intellectually challenged. I like the money. Most importantly, I like the lifestyle that comes with the money. But the past few months have made it very clear to me that I am not what I do. So if I am going to continue to be career-minded, and I am, I need to learn from my mistakes.
In the past I did everything I could to please others and meet their expectations, no matter how unrealistic those expectations were. The more I tried to please others, the more was expected of me, until I just couldn’t do it anymore. I had a bit of a meltdown, and I didn’t like who I became as a result.
Unfortunately, I learned this too late in my last job. When I began pushing back on some of the expectations people had of me, when I began looking out for my best interests and challenging the status quo, I quickly fell out of favour. That was hard for me, especially because I was only trying to preserve my sanity and still do the right thing for the company. Now, I could blame my last employer for the way they treated me, but in the end, I let it happen, and I let it happen for far too long before I did anything about it. I need to own that.
And this time around, I need to do things differently.