Reflections… How one year can change your world.

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I got a chill this morning realising the date; October 15th. On October 15th exactly one year ago I had a sleepless night, plagued with dread over what the morning would bring – that torturous walk to work, each step bringing me closer to my personal hell on earth. A million new emails to deal with, meetings to force myself to smile through, two-faced people with vindictive agendas, the constant phone calls and demands, endless paperwork…. It makes me sick just thinking about it. On October 15th in the wee hours of the morning as I lay there waiting for the darkness to lift, I decided enough was enough. My body had been letting me know for months that this level of stress was not manageable, but I’d ignored the signs. I’d ignored the increasingly tight chest, the pounding heart, the constant headaches and stomach cramps, the shaking hands and the dizziness. Until something finally snapped inside me on October 15th, and I quit my job. I quit something I’d moved city for, gone to University for, and made sacrifices for. And I’ve never looked back.

Well, something like that. To say I’ve never looked back would be somewhat of a lie, as I eventually did have to look back in order to move forward. To say I was naïve in thinking my sudden freedom would equal happiness would be a bit of an understatement. Sure, I had an immense pressure lifted off my shoulders. I had nobody to answer to, no where to be and no obligations. Unless you’re either very wealthy or very lazy though, there’s only so much time for ‘freedom’ that is realistically achievable. After the initial luxury and glimmer wears off, you notice a small yearning to belong creeping up on you once more. Apart from actually needing to earn some money to survive, you start wanting to be part of a team again. To rebuild yourself up and achieve something. So here I find myself exactly a year later, part of a great team in the town I grew up in. My family, boyfriend, animals and the beach (all the important things in my life), are within a stones throw away and I couldn’t be more content.

To say it hasn’t been hard work to get here would be a lie, because the first 6 months after I quit that job were really low. Some days I struggled just to function. Normal things like cooking breakfast, going grocery shopping and talking on the phone became these mammoth tasks to me. I actually had to mentally prepare myself for the tiniest of activities, things we do on a regular basis with no second thought. My anxiety levels were completely ruining my life and I felt like hiding in bed all day in the darkness, somewhere I felt safe. But that’s no way to live and I committed myself to getting better, day by day, with no time frame in mind. And I did. Slowly – very slowly, I noticed myself thinking less and less about my anxiety, something that used to be on my mind 24/7. I’d catch myself doing simple things like driving across a bridge or going to an appointment without panicking, something that felt like a huge achievement in my eyes. Spending time with the 3 cats and puppy in our family, long walks on the beach, meditating, movie nights with my step dad and cooking with my nana – simple, small things – literally were my God send. I’d been missing out on all these things and didn’t realise how desperately I’d craved this normalcy, this break from the rat race of living in the city and working in a corporate environment.

Some people know what works for them early on in life, whereas some go through struggles to eventually find their peace. I don’t know where I’ll be one year from now, but I’m grateful every day to be here. Because right here, right now, I’m okay.

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Introversion and dinner parties; a recipe for disaster.

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As some of you may know I’ve written about my struggles with anxiety and introversion before, but today I’d like to touch on the nightmare of the dinner party. Upon invitation to a meal out, most people would look forward to it with a normal level of interest and excitement. Who doesn’t love wine, food and good conversation? This week I had to attend a going away dinner party for a girl from work, which was all fine and good – I was actually looking forward to catching up with my colleagues after almost 3 weeks away. Of course, I didn’t bank on people from higher management coming along – disappointing to say the least. Now we have to watch what we say and be on our best behaviour! Nobody enjoys dining with the big bosses, let’s be honest.

As I walked in and spotted that I was the first person there not in a ‘management’ type role, I immediately crawled into my shell. Excusing myself to the bathroom, I cursed myself for always having to be early to EVERYTHING. See, being early means you have to make awkward small chat as you wait for all the people who clearly have better things to do than be on time. I’ve actually never been able to understand people who are late, don’t they feel stressed that others are waiting for them? I cannot stand running late, so it seems I’ve committed myself to a life of being early and hiding in the toilet waiting for others to arrive. First world problems hey?

So moving on to the dinner party, and I sit myself on the end corner where I (hopefully) won’t have to talk to management or be put on the spot. WRONG. It seems the only thing Mr ______ knows about me is that I have a blog, which he likes to ask me about at every possible opportunity. So why not ask me about it in front of the entire table? What people don’t understand is that I’m not writing this blog to become famous, and I definitely don’t want to explain what I write about to a group of people I only know on a work basis when my blog is something really, really personal to me. I mean if you’re that interested, ask me what it’s called and google it or better yet – look at my resume or LinkedIn profile and you’ll find it. So as I slowly die under the spotlight of people waiting to hear what I write about, I spit out some random shit like ‘Oh you know, just life and Bali Belly etc’. CRINGE. KILL ME NOW. Somebody please take the microphone and close the curtains.

Thank god the cake arrives and we can stuff our faces, complain about how full we are and pay the bill. Home time!

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Photo credits – thepinkstagram & travelerspassion

Down days keep us sane, so let us have them…

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This picture is the perfect example of how I felt today… LEAVE ME THE F@*K ALONE. We all have days like this, where we just can’t do human interaction. We can’t go to work, we can’t get out of our pyjamas, we can’t cook a healthy meal so we order pizza and drink coffee in bed, snuggling the fur babies and pretending we don’t have responsibilities. Of course, we could actually do all of those things if we forced ourselves – but would we be any better for it? I’m convinced there’s a reason for down days, in that they give us a chance to rest, regroup and connect with ourselves. After all, we usually emerge the next day feeling fresh and ready to tackle the world again, so what’s the harm?

I was meant to be working for my 6th day in a row today, but was absolutely exhausted last night – both mentally and physically. Battling a constant runny nose and allergies, headaches and neck tension, it got to 2am and I thought ‘I can’t do this’. There’s nothing quite like the relief of calling into work sick… you actually feel a weight lift off your chest and suddenly the world is your oyster. What am I going to do today!? The world is so much more colourful when you’re actually meant to be at work, it’s like this guilty pleasure you’re indulging in. And you know what – everyone does it because we actually need it. Humans are not designed to sit in an office all day staring at a computer screen drumming away. It’s not natural, and it’s certainly not the reason we’re here (in my opinion anyway).

On down days I also tend to avoid all social interaction with friends, which is why I simply could not answer phone calls today (sorry to the friend who called – it’s not you, it’s me). The LAST thing I feel like doing on my day off is having small chat! I want to read my book, indulge in bad food and spend most of the day horizontal with socks on. If it’s an emergency – sure, I’ll be there. But other than that, please leave me alone and let me have some me time. It’s so precious! I will be such a better person tomorrow because of my ONE DAY OFF, so be gone with the judgement and take a leaf from my book 🙂

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Photo credits – maison.chloeyeur & paintandhaven

Only you can fix your broken window.

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I’ve come to realise in the last few years that most people in life are far too busy worrying about their own problems, to try in any tangible way to help ‘fix’ yours. Yes we all offer words of support, throwing out lines of advice here and there, but in reality we are all too consumed with our own shit to spare any energy in helping others. The fire to change something in your life has got to come from within, otherwise you’ll never get there. Unless you are severely impaired by some form of mental or health related illness, you’ve just got to help yourself. People will be there to give you a kick up the ass and try to motivate you, but ultimately it comes down to lighting your own fire – and that usually takes a trip to rock bottom first.

We’ve all been in a situation where we feel helpless, alone, down and unmotivated. It might be after a break up, or looking for a new job, or home. It might be after a death or traumatic incident, or something little like a fight with a friend. Sometimes in life, you just feel glum – shit happens, and you can’t be bothered getting off the couch. Your family and friends will try and lift your spirits, suggesting outings and exercise. The endorphins will make you feel wonderful! Going outside is the last thing you feel like doing… until, one day, something inside you changes. Nobody is pestering you to cheer up, or asking you out for coffee, and suddenly you think – maybe I can do this. And that’s all it takes – that little spark of confidence, that little burst of positive thinking.

I know first hand what it’s like to go through this. I had loved ones telling me for months to quit my stressful job, and move away from a city I’d grown to despise. It honestly went in one ear and out the other, because I was SCARED. I felt completely trapped, stuck in a dark existence where every day depleted me of energy just trying to make it through. I was filled with ‘what if’ scenarios, bogged down by too many options and not enough courage, but ultimately just scared… 6 months later I look back to that period and wonder how I let it get so bad. Life is far too short to waste trapped in a mediocre job, missing your family and pretending to be okay. All it took was a firm decision, a step of courage and a moment of honesty. I-CANT-DO-THIS-ANYMORE. Let the chips fall where they may, but I was out of there – and haven’t looked back. Finally, I had done SOMETHING for myself. Something, anything was better than NOTHING.

And so I felt like a complete idiot this week when chatting to one of my close friends about how down he has been feeling. Here I was, offering out advice and suggesting things that had helped me – when I should have just listened. Nobody wants to hear what they should be doing – they’re not stupid. They know fully well what they should be doing to get out of their rut, but it takes time to come to that moment of clarity of your own free will – and that’s what makes all the difference 🙂

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Photo credits – aureta & thebest_windowsdoors

When you stop running, doors start opening.

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I’m writing this post tonight as I reflect on the people I’ve met recently through work, who’ve opened up to me rather quickly about their own personal battles. I don’t know if it’s because A) They feel like they can trust me or B) They just want someone to talk to. It’s probably a mixture of both, and don’t get me wrong – I’m more than happy to listen and engage in deep conversation early on into meeting people. None of this small chat about the weather! Let’s get right down to the nitty gritty. But I can’t help but feel a little guilty for initially trying to appear as someone I’m not. You see after the awful year I had in 2016, I wanted this job to be a fresh start where I could leave all my past behind. I wanted to be cool, calm and collected. I wanted to leave my personal life at home and be the ultimate professional on the job. But after my recent conversations with these colleagues, I’ve realised how much humans crave that connection – and how important it really is.

I spent all my energy last year trying to cover up the fact that I simply was not okay. I wasn’t okay going into those meetings, or making those cold calls. I wasn’t okay with that workload, or with that pressure, and I most certainly wasn’t okay with pretending I cared about such meaningless tasks. So this year I told myself that I would focus on me, and what I really wanted. I would take a less stressful job where I didn’t know anyone, and they wouldn’t know how close I’d come to rock bottom. I didn’t have to disclose the battles I’d come through, and I intended on staying that way. I’d come from a workplace culture of keeping your mouth shut and carrying on – you were a cog in the wheel and every cog was replaceable. So I tried, for as long as I could to keep my cool – but as many of you will know that became impossible.

Since meeting the staff in my new job and having them open up to me about their own battles (be it sexual identity issues, domestic violence or mental health problems), I’ve realised that it’s OKAY to be honest with people straight up. We don’t have to wear this mask we create for ourselves, and we don’t have to be ashamed of whatever we’ve gone through. We should feel empowered to be transparent, be trusting, and lean on each other. After all we are in this job together, and how can we really perform to the best of our abilities if we don’t know each others triggers and weak spots?

From now on I intend to be completely honest with my colleagues, both current and future. I’m done with pretending to be someone I’m not, and you can either take it or leave it. We’re all unique individuals with our own stories of perseverance, and we should lift each other up – not bring each other down.

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Photo credits – maison.chloeyeur & hautepunchmag

Interviews got me feeling blue…

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Yesterday I had a job interview. To say I completely bombed it would be a complete understatement… It was horrific. I even got the rejection email a couple of hours afterwards confirming it, so what can I say? Yes, I stuffed it up. I wanted the earth to swallow me up whole or to at least melt into the wall. FACE-PALM.

Who on earth decided that a formal panel of 3 interviewers in a stifled, white room was the best method at figuring out whether I’m going to nail the job? And WHO on earth decided that letting the next interviewee sit outside of said room, where I could see them waiting, was a good idea!? Yes, I was quite utterly crapping myself! I haven’t had an interview in 2 years, and I’m meant to waltz in guns-a-blazing and wow the pants of these straight-laced people with a few CHOICE words and my sales pitch. No thanks! Why couldn’t we have bonded over a cheese platter and bubbles, letting the conversation flow in a more natural way?

Surely I’m not the only person who finds the idea of a formal interview process completely unnatural. They probably had me pegged as the most boring, shy, untalented candidate from the minute I sat down. And fair enough – I couldn’t let my personality shine through in such forced conditions. I hate that we have to conform to such a generic process and impress potential employees under such stressful conditions. So what if I take a while to warm up to people? I can still do the job, and do it well. All I wanted was a chance.

Okay so now that it’s over, how can I move forward and regain my shattered confidence? Well, in hindsight – having an interview is good experience and will definitely make me better prepared for the next one. If I’m perfectly honest with myself, something in me knew that I wasn’t quite right for this particular job anyway. I think that if I had really wanted it, I would have fought harder for it and cast the nerves aside. Self-sabotage perhaps? Who knows. Either way, I wish the successful candidate all the best in their role. I will move forward with the knowledge that yesterday wasn’t my day, and I’ll be damned sure to make it rain for my next interview. You got this girl!

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Photo credits – ourmoodydays