Tuesday, 13 July 2010
Which way now?
In a moment of rather interesting irony, while my big sister's most recent blog post is all about her quest to find meaning outside of the home, mine today is about how I find meaning in a life where job is pretty much most of what I have.
I spent most of last week on my glorious holiday in Wales (to paraphrase the fabulous Private Eye, see Crafty Manoeuvres passim) reflecting on a number of things about my current life. My life circumstances changed fairly dramatically just over a year ago. I went from being someone's other half living in my own home, to a suddenly single 40 something living in (admittedly very nice) rented accommodation (again, see CM passim).
As luck would have it the job I was in was also made redundant and I faced the trauma of having to apply for one of the replacement ones on offer. Fortunately I was successful in that endeavour and since then I've been finding my way through my newly redefined life. As a side story, and perhaps not surprisingly, almost exactly a year ago I ended up in hospital as an emergency admission with severe and as yet still unexplained stomach pains. At the time they thought it might be a ruptured bowel or acute appendicitis, but turns out I was just stressed - or a crazy chick on the mad, as one of my more supportive friends puts it!
But back to today's irony.
I've been following for some time the anguish my sister has been facing as she tries to carve out a role for herself as both a Mum and a person in her own right. She has pretty much bared her soul in her reflections (one of her posts last week was particularly moving) and she has been challenging/thought-provoking/annoying (sorry but sometimes you were!)/insightful/honest throughout. What she probably doesn't realise is that she's also been inspirational. I don't think my big sis realises how much I've looked up to her during my life - and looked to her for advice, guidance and just 'having been there and done it before'-ness.
And it surprised me that this soul-searching turned out to be no different. One of my very good friends, seeing that I wasn't feeling at my best, suggested that I use my holiday week to work out what I really want from life. And so I took a leaf out big sis' book and I did, or at least I tried to. I did a lot of 'writing things down' (much to the bemusement of the staff in the coffee shop I suspect) and lots more thinking about stuff. While I was undertaking my mammoth walks, I used the time to mull things over. I even talked to myself - out loud at times. OK, a lot of the time it was just nonsense - like how good 'potato' sounds when you say it aloud in a funny voice, but sometimes it was sensible too!
And where did all of this get me? I now have a better understanding of what I like in life, what makes me happy (happier) and, perhaps as importantly, what I don't like. I'm not sure I've necessarily reached any conclusions - and certainly not any I'm ready to reveal to the world yet - but I'm a bit clearer about what's bothering me, and also a bit clearer about what my options might be for doing something about it.
I realise that my job and my work are incredibly important to me. They're - right or wrong - a large part of how I define myself and always have been. One of the dilemmas for me at the moment is whether I feel that what I do is worthwhile or has meaning. A knee-jerk reaction would be to look for another job - and that might well be where I end up. But my reflections have also helped me understand the ways in which I might be able to make the job feel more meaningful, and that one of my options is to do just that.
After 42 years of working this one out, I realise that the grass is rarely actually that much greener on the other side of the fence. Sometimes what you have is good enough and your challenge is to enjoy it for what it is. Of course, sometimes it's not right (I have never regretted for a single second the decision I made just over a year ago to strike out on my own, for example) and you do have to make a change - I guess true wisdom is to know which is which!
I'll keep you posted as I work this one through - but rest assured, there's no instant decisions as yet. Just more thinking and reflection - and a little bit of researching my options thrown in for good measure!!