I recall standing on a London underground train platform at the age of 23, with tears welling up in my eyes because I had just returned from a sunshine-filled holiday in my home country of South Africa. A return to dull weather, a dull job, a dull commute. This would be enough to bring tears to the eyes of any young person from the Southern Hemisphere returning to London after a few weeks visiting family and friends back home. But I wasn’t bemoaning the fact that my holiday had come to an end, I was sad because I felt like I was ‘going without myself.”
That is not how I would have put it into words at the time. In fact it’s just a mis-phrased statement that my two-year old made yesterday when she thought we were leaving on an outing without her. I laughed at her and then thought, that’s actually a good phrase – I have felt like that before…
The 23-year-old me in London was going along with life and feeling like something was missing. I had a job, a boyfriend, travel aspirations and a strong sense that I was in the wrong place doing the wrong thing. I felt like somewhere along all this going, I had left myself behind. It was easy to determine what was wrong, what the cause of the sadness was, but how would I change things?
Things have changed. I am now 34 and I feel content. I have (together with my husband) a homegrown from the ground (blood, sweat and tears) business that I love, a husband (completely and utterly the right one for me) and kids, travel aspirations that are way more interesting than weekend trips to Europe and a strong sense that I am in the right place at the right time. Good for me.
Yes, good for me. I have been working so hard raising children and building our business that I have forgotten something behind. I am again going without myself. While I have been finding purpose and meaning in these things, and I feel at peace with the journey from the 23 year old with the FOMO to the 34 year old mom who doesn’t have her own phone because… FOKU I guess. Fear of keeping up.
I’m giving my time, my energy, my money, but I am not giving myself. I mean my true self. The real me deep inside that’s so easy to ignore (or leave behind) because that would require way too much creative energy, it would require opening myself up to other people, being vulnerable and actually pursuing my dreams. MY dreams, the personal ones.
At age 23 I had a deep yearning to find my purpose (like all wandering, soul searching 23 year olds). I am glad that I made some changes, that some changes just happened and that in desperation I prayed, “God, make me into the woman that you created me to be.” I feel that there was a turning point during this season of my life as the depth of my desperation prompted me to stop and let myself catch up. I pursued some personal dreams and I felt satisfied.
Then marriage, kids, day-to-day struggles, overbearing struggles, another big life change, a new season, a new business, a renewed sense of fulfillment and somewhere along the way I left myself behind. At age 34 I have a pretty good idea of who I am. I know I am a writer and I should be writing and I know that one of my personal aspirations is to utilise writing as a creative outlet. That is why I have a blog all ready to go for when I am ready. Ready for what? Ready to spend time on something that is personal to me and not necessarily important to my business, my kids and my husband. Not that it’s not, it’s just I suppose that a newborn baby isn’t very useful to anyone yet, but it demands the love and attention of the mother.
Do I have time (and energy) in my life for another baby? My husband didn’t think so. When I proposed the idea to him that I want to begin to take my writing seriously he said, “maybe you should do that next year?”. A statement that would have had me at his throat as a newly wed. Seven years down the line and I do accept that he will never be able to read my mind. I was saying, “I have a personal dream that I can’t ignore any more.” He heard, “I am not going to be as available to you in our shared dream any longer”. So I told him (after some consideration), “If I do this, I think it will add to everything else.”
He said, “Go for it”.