The Next Steps

Another journal prompt inspired post…

What’s the next step you’ve been thinking about taking, for far too long?

Hmmm, this is a toughy…

I have lots of next steps I think I should be taking…but for me it’s hard to disentangle whether they come from ME…

Do I actually, truly want to do these next steps or are they are something that other people/society dictates that I should want…

Because I am female and 35 and been in the same job for 9 years, have a small flat…

maybe I should be wanting kids and a promotion and a bigger house

but, I’m not entirely sure about this…I don’t think I want any of that if I am honest with myself.

For me I guess the problem is I know pretty well now what I don’t want in life…I just don’t know what I do want.

What do I want? ergh.

and like Matt Haig says the act of wanting something you don’t have just shows there is a void.

But is there really a void?

Maybe not, I don’t feel like there is a void in my life…so maybe that truly does mean I don’t WANT any of those things.

Am I lesser human being because I don’t wan’t those things?

I don’t think so. But it still doesn’t help me with what I do want.

Hmmmmm…

If I am truly happy with where I am now in life then maybe the next step is just to try to grow and improve in small ways…and take small steps

to keep on learning and be positive

But Vex King says you always have a goal to work toward.

but I really struggle with ‘thinking big’ or long term.

So I guess my next steps will indeed just have to mini steps.

I’ll list my intentions for a year from today below:

Next steps to take by 1st July 2021

  1. Finish Creative writing course and start to write first fiction novel.
  2. Complete an Olympic distance triathlon and train with the Triathlon club as soon as I can 😛
  3. Keep up my Spanish learning – at least an hour a week.
  4. Save money for future travel adventures (hopefully more South America/Spanish speaking countries).
  5. Get drafted for a B Team Roller Derby Game.
  6. Don’t buy any more books; read the many hundreds I already have!
  7. Be open to a romantic relationship and try not to be cynical about love and put up defences to such things.

What is the one reality you need to come to peace with?

Well, lockdown has been great for this. It’s been a great leveller. This reality; it’s really something actually.

REALITY CHECK x 10.

Hmm, I guess I’ve realised I don’t actually need all those things I thought I needed.

I don’t need more; I already have everything I need.

(I realise that I am speaking from a place of privilege here; I have a nice roof over my head and a garden and I’m in this lovely bubble here in the South Wales Valleys where neither me or my parents have to go out and see people. We can do all our work out of the confines of this dinning room).

But, yeah, as long as you have your health, and your family are ok and you can contact them and your friends. That’s really all you need.

I’ve realised too, that I really didn’t appreciate how special it was to be near actual people and have actual face to face interactions in reality. IRL!

My aspirations and ambitions for the future have actually shifted as a result of this experience though.

I don’t feel in a rush to get back to my old life.

Of course I wan’t to go out to meals with my friends and play roller derby and go swimming with the triathlon club… but knowing I can’t go back into schools and interact with young people in real life means I am really quite content with this work from Wales life (again I realise I am very lucky and privileged here!).

But, with regards to life ambitions. I’ve never been someone who had a 5 year plan. I was never someone with a 6 month plan either to be honest. I only ever strived to have some travelling adventure in the diary to look forward to and that was enough for me to be content…so it does feel really weird that my calendar literally has no future travel plans in it. I can’t even put in a date for when I go back to England…

I’ve always been a ‘live in the moment’ type of person, which I think maybe makes this whole situation a bit easier for me. For example, I’ve never really aspired to get promoted in work, or to have more responsibility; some people might say that’s because I am a woman and we aren’t confident in our own abilities and we hold ourselves back where a man wouldn’t.

The truth is I am confident that I could work at a higher grade, but I don’t want to. I did a PhD, not because I really wanted to, just because I didn’t know what else I should do. I was told that because I got a first it was the natural next step. I never stopped to think about the extreme effect four years of PhD would have on my mental health. I don’t regret my PhD but I wouldn’t recommend it to a friend lol.

For me trying to get promoted and have more responsibility it’s not worth the stress. I’m so grateful for my PhD because without it I wouldn’t have been able to have this job; this job that I love. But I still find this whole ‘Dr’ thing embarrassing. I don’t feel like I deserve it and I don’t like using it, again I realise this embarrasment and awkwardness surrounding my title might because I am woman, or maybe it is just my personality. But I don’t want people to see I am a ‘Dr’ and feel like I am trying to say I am better than them, or smarter than them. I am just stubborn, that’s the only reason I have a PhD. But I digress, the stress, the responsibility of working ‘at a higher level’ it’s just not worth it for the effect it will have on my mental health; I’m cool with this level :P.

Life is short and I have enough money to be happy; besides I am getting anxious now just at the thought of having more meetings about stuff, even if they are virtual lol.

I like to just get on and do the stuff, I actually really like doing the thing.

The real problem for me is being forced to make a plan, to sit down and think and not just throw myself in, head long. I need constant supervision, to stop me going off on tangents (probably the ADHD). I like doing all the things, but I have to be careful as I do get easily overwhelmed and then it gets so bad I can’t do ANYTHING…

But, If you too are a ‘grafter’ that’s nothing to be ashamed of. In the end, we can’t all be high level managers, someone has to actually DO the things!

Society says that at 35 I should have a husband, and kids and a mortgage; that after 10 years in a job I should be promoted and be line managing someone, and have more responsibilities. The reality is that I am currently single and back living with my parents…society would perhaps say I am failing…but I dunno, I don’t think I am, and that’s all that matters.

And anyway, the reality is we are in a pandemic and people are dying. Those people didn’t get a choice. I still have a choice about how I want to live, so I will make the most of it.

I will make the most of my reality, of this moment, of this life; while I still can.

Final thoughts on this reality

Don’t let society dictate your timeline.

Decide what you want your reality to be. Make peace with it.

The only expectations you have to live up to are your own.

(Can you tell I have just been watching series 1 of After Life ? :D)