“What do you do?” A stranger asked. I froze for a second, like a deer caught in the headlights. I could feel my heart thump erratically inside its cage. Trapped. With nowhere to run and nowhere to hide, it tugged frantically at the bars, pleads unheaded.
“What do you do?” A simple question to the average person, but one that makes me squirm uncomfortably in my undergarments. One that makes me sweat from every inch of my body. One that sends my brain into a frenzy of searching for answers but to no avail. A question I endeavour to avoid at all costs. A question that has me sneakily swerving the conversation into a completely different direction.
“Oh look, a squirrel!”
Only, there are no squirrels at this social event, just successful people with seemingly thriving careers. Smartly dress and the picture of wealth, their smiles are as animated as their egos. I watch them. Confidence pouring like champagne to their crystal-encrusted flutes. Conversations flow fluently around me, as I struggle to push the words out of my lips.
“So, what do you do?” The stranger asks again, an impatience growing in his voice. He tugs at his collar and looks at me looking absently at him.
“I want to be a writer”, I think to myself without a hint of hesitance. One by one the words begin to roll off my tongue, only to become halted by that same old belittling voice. Mrs Realist steps forward and tells me not to be so silly. “A writer!” She scoffs. “What sort of job is that?” And so the words dissolve on the tip of my tongue and re-emerge as “I’m a stay at home mum.” My ‘fantasist self’ rolls her eyes and sighs disapprovingly. The conversation soon comes to a stagnant end, and that niggling voice kindly reminds me, once again, that I must DO SOMETHING WITH MY LIFE!
Don’t get me wrong, I love raising my children. It’s the best job in the world. And yes, I said, “job”. A hard one, at that! But wiping snotty noses and running around after children are all I have known. Sure, I had jobs before I had my children. I’ve had work placements here and there. I’ve also dipped in and out of education. But, for as long as I have known, I’ve never found “that thing”. That “Aha” moment, when suddenly it all makes sense and you know exactly what you want to do in life! That missing puzzle piece we seek on our hands and knees, only to be confronted with dust and faded dreams.
Recently, I took my 10-year-old daughter to an open evening at a local secondary school (Where did the time go?) As I walked the halls, reminiscence tickled my nostrils with its Bunsen burner aroma. There I stood, my first day at secondary school, dwarfed in uniform and nervously tugging at the ends of my sleeves. Lost and overwhelmed.
Almost twenty years on, and I might not be draped in clothes two sizes too big for me, but I am still stood here with that same old ‘dipshit’ expression, bewildered by my surroundings and feeling more lost than ever.
“Ground, please swallow me up!” I plea. “Take me back to my sofa, where I can watch TV, drink tea, scoff biscuits and dream about everything I could have been!”
The truth is, if we don’t get up from our comfort zones, not only will NOTHING ever happen, but also, we will never get the chance to achieve our true potentials. For a long time, I didn’t step out of my comfort zone, because I hadn’t found that missing puzzle piece. But maybe I had the puzzle piece all along? All I needed to do was get up and insert it into its rightful slot.
When I was a kid I wanted to be a magician. I would line all my stuffed toys in a row and perform shoddy tricks in front of their gormless little faces. I soon grew tired of performing the same old tricks to an unappreciative audience and decided that it was, in fact, a nurse I wanted to be. Sadly, due to my aversion to any form of bodily fluid, I rapidly changed my mind and decided that I wanted to be a …
Ice cream van owner
A magic carpet racer (yeah, I don’t really know what I was thinking?)
I left school without a clue as to what to do with my life. My first job was far from the thrills of magic carpet riding and landed me straight back down to Earth via the doors of a cafeteria. Here, I made sandwiches and served lunch to factory workers. It was okay. It was pretty easy going and the boss couldn’t have been nicer. But then rules and regulations ordered that I wear a hairnet and POUF! I was out of the door quicker than Aladdin with a firecracker chasing his backside. I was a fashion-conscious teenager, after all. Gone with the hairnet and on with rubber gloves; my next job was in the kitchen of the old people’s home. To say it was short-lived was an understatement. I may have lasted two weeks, three weeks at a push. Watching old people being spoon-fed mush really wasn’t “my thing”. In fact, it put me off mashed foods for life. So I traded the rubber gloves for a pinafore and started my next job in a family restaurant. As I wiped tables and cleared up other people’s mess, I couldn’t help but think that I could do better than this. Although I loathed the job, I still sobbed until snot bubbles frothed from my nose when my boss told me my waitressing skills weren’t up to scratch, and, shortly after, made me redundant. Oh, the shame of it all! If I couldn’t clean tables, what the heck could I possibly offer the world?
My next job (can you see a pattern emerging here?) was at a bookshop. Again, it wasn’t exactly riveting, but I did, however, endure it longer than the average three weeks. It was at this workplace when I received the life-changing news that I was pregnant. 17-years-old and barely able to support myself, it wasn’t quite the surprise I had anticipated. As the months pass by and this little person grew inside me, suddenly everything felt right. Motherhood was something that came naturally to me. It was something I was actually good at. Sure enough, there were times when I pulled the hair from out of head in frustration, times when I was so sleep-deprived I had forgotten how to make a simple cup of tea and also times when I doubted every decision I made. But 10 years later and two more children to add to the brood, I can honestly add ‘motherhood’ as one of the most – if not the greatest – achievements of my lifetime.
For many years, my children came first. My husband followed slightly behind and then my career fell somewhere towards the bottom of the list. Sure enough, I tried to juggle education while my kids tugged at my clothes for my attention. But, it all felt like such an effort, and, therefore, it was always placed in the back burner. I’ve climbed on many a career ladder only to take a few steps, feel it jiggle from under my feet and slip back down again. From hairdressing to therapist, to seamstress to photographer. These are only a few ladders I stepped foot on, only to leap straight off again. The reality is, there was never a ladder that looked sturdy enough to pursue, and yet, the pressure was turned up full throttle and almost burning my arse onto any career ladder I could get my hands on.
28 years old, and still no idea what to do with my life.
But something happened one day. Something LIFE CHANGING. Mother Nature decided not to make her usual appearance. Three days pass by, and still no sign. A few more days flew off the calendar, and panic began to set in. Was I? I couldn’t even bring myself to say the word. My mind ran wild with thoughts on how we could possibly cope with another member to our already fit-to-burst family. The car, we would have to sell the car. Oh good God! We’d become one of those…dare I say it…’station wagon’ families! We’d never be able to afford to go on holiday again. I’ve just got my youngest son out of nappies, could I start all over again? I felt sick. I woke up in hot sweats. I had chronic heartburn. Had I put on a few pounds? I told my husband and he told me to drop everything and buy a test.
And so I found myself sat on the toilet, staring down at the plastic white stick while my heart pounded in my throat.
Three minutes passed by.
I nervously flipped over the pregnancy test.
A sadness brewed inside me. I felt empty. I mean, to have another child would be a completely irrational decision. Absurd, in fact! But, deep down, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed.
“Thank goodness!” I lied to my husband. “I’m not pregnant!” He looked at me with the same disenchantment in his eyes and replied, “Thank God for that!”
For days, I felt an emptiness inside. A void. A big dark hole. What the heck was I going to do with my life? But then it struck me with brutal force…
“I want to be a writer!”
It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. Well, besides being a Magician and Magic Carpet racer! And, lo and behold, I realised I wasn’t missing a puzzle piece after all. I was very much holding it all along. I just needed to put it to use. I just needed to get up from my comfort zone and step onto the ladder that had been in front of me from the very beginning. A ladder I dared to climb because I was, once again, too afraid to fall.
Everyone has an idea inside them. A dream. An ambition. Some people have always known what this dream has been. For others, their dreams might be waiting on the cusp of their subconscious. Whether we choose to ‘bring our dreams to life’ lies completely in our hands. We need to ask ourselves; do we get up off our backsides and get our hands dirty, or do we sit here, comfortably discontent, secretly wishing we did more with our lives?
Some of you will all know that I have been writing for around 18 months now. I have achieved a lot here on my WordPress blog, more than I could have ever anticipated. However, I feel like I have reached the end of an era. I have achieved all I can achieve here, and I want to expand my blogging wings and fly the WordPress nest.
It’s time to step out of my comfort zone and start a new chapter.
Don’t panic! I’m not leaving the blogging world for good. I will be setting up my own blog on WordPress.org (Yep, from scratch!) Same blog name (Except the WordPress part) same old me, but a slightly different journey which will hopefully enable me to live out the dream inside me. Alas! I finally know what I want to do and the fear inside me will no longer hold me back. I won’t allow it!
I can DO this and I WILL do this!
I want you guys to be a part of my journey, as you have always been. Which is why I will be inviting you all to party (champagne and happy dancing style!) at my new and improved website once it’s up and running, which – taking my computer skills (or lack of) into consideration – will probably be just before Christmas (I’m actually NOT joking!) I will send you all an email to let you know the exact date, but sadly, you won’t see me around for a few months as I will be working hard on my new blog.
I believe I have found my calling in life. Now I just need to chase it!
Wish me luck!