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)

What do you appreciate most about your life right now?

So I haven’t written this blog or done a morning journalling task for a while. What can I say? Lockdown life is distracting. I have actually taken up bullet journalling though, so I am doing some form of journalling and creating, which I am sure is helping keep me sane.

To answer the question from the Day 4 of journalling prompts above… I am very very appreciative of being alive and being free to live my life how I wish. We are in the middle of a pandemic, but even on working days I have the freedom to structure each day as a chose. I am with family (even if we do bicker a lot lol) and I appreciate them and this roof over my head and the company of these beautiful doggies, who show unconditional love and are constantly hilarious.

It’s what week 7 or 8? of lockdown … and the message here in Wales is still very much ‘Stay Home’ …which I am glad of because ‘Stay Alert’; like you may as well not bother with a message at all. hmmmm. I do appreciative many more things…

I think I will do a Matt Haig inspired list of what I appreciate most right now (P.s. I thoroughly recommend you read his books, specifically ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’, ‘Notes from a Nervous Planet’ and ‘The Humans’ – the message of these books has been so useful to me during lockdown in order to cope with the anxiety of it all and to really get some perspective- I plan on reading them all again over the next few days!):

  1. Being alive 🙂
  2. Being with my family and not alone in lockdown.
  3. Having my own room, with a well stocked book shelf and comfy bed.
  4. Cups of tea and decaf coffee with oat milk.
  5. Unconditional love from my 3 doggo siblings.
  6. Reading more. Right now I am reading ‘The Confessions of Frannie Langton’ by Sara Collins which is also really good (a quote from this book is below).
  7. Having a garden and being able to sit in it, especially when the Sun is shinning.
  8. Looking at the sky.
  9. This dining room, and dinning room table. A separate space to do my working from home and my bullet journalling.
  10. Working internet so I can zoom with my friends, write this blog, google facts and do my Spanish lessons on Teams.
  11. A whole conservatory to do fitness workouts in, decked with weights and a rowing machine. Specifically enjoying the ‘Les Mills On Demand workouts’… I’ve even tried the ballet inspired one and the boxing one is good for those days when I am in ‘a right mood’; so much to chose from.
  12. Being able to just put on my trainers and go running (I’ve been able to do this 3 times a week through lockdown but my friend in Italy was only allowed out for the first time yesterday to go for a run :/).
  13. The fact I can actually do my job from home and that I now actually have time to do the data analysis and read the evaluation forms from past events. This has been heart warming. Especially the comments from children regarding what they have learned in the planetarium shows. I often don’t get time to actually look back or celebrate the work I do; so it’s great that this situation has given me the chance to take a moment and assess and be proud of my work and not be rushing to the next event.
  14. The freedom to dream about future adventures and have hope. To be in a situation where I have the choice to decide which bits of ‘this life’ I want to keep when life goes back to ‘normal’, and which bits I do not.

I’ll finish this post with a quote I just read in my book. It felt very apt and really hit home to me. It’s a quote which shows how powerful reading is; how it can allow you to live another life to the one you are currently experiencing. It really can take you anywhere in the world and make you into anyone. You can travel in books, even if you cannot travel in real life. Reading books can be something you do to survive and this message seems very relevant in these ‘strange’ times:

‘Books were my companions’…’I am grateful I could learn something, no matter how I came to do so. It was a way to know that lives could change, that they could be filled with adventures. There were times I pretended I was a lady in a novel or a romance myself. It might sounds foolish. But it made me feel part of a world that otherwise I could never belong to.’

Sara Collins from ‘The Confessions of Frannie Langton’