Lost in my 30’s

Hi there, and thanks for checking out my blog. I decided to write this because I keep thinking that I know where I’m headed and then something sends me wildly off course. For example: I have been working towards healthy living for a couple years now, but that morning tea or extra glass of wine will always find its way into my hand… and then, of course, once I start I can’t stop. I have no self-control so moderation – that beautiful ‘key’ that is discussed on all diet, health, and fitness websites – goes straight out the window.

Or how about my track record with relationships? I thought I was doing it right: I found the right man and (quite literally) moved across the world to make it work, only to find out that he was not the right man at all. I ended a 6.5 year relationship only 2 months before my 30th birthday and though I couldn’t have been happier with that decision, it left me wondering if that was my only chance. My dating track record ever since does lead me to believe that maybe the wrong man is the only kind of man out there.  Then I still find myself reading about the success stories of online dating and think maybe – maybe – the next one won’t show up being 10 years older than his photo, or won’t tell me I owe him a beer for making him take the bus to meet me… maybe. There were one or two nice ones too, but if spitting wine all over the table and his shirt (oh right, I’m also super clumsy) didn’t have him running for the hills, well, I don’t know what would.

So this has brought me to blogging. The way I see it is that I can’t possibly be alone in these experiences, trying and failing at daily self-improvements while barely holding onto a moderately successful career and constantly fighting the social pressures that told me I should be married with kids by now. But that’s not me. I’m a traveller with very different priorities to most people, trying to find contentment in a ‘normal’ life. So here’s what really happens when you try: to live as a vegetarian (that lasted 2 days) or a minimalist (still working on it) or try meditating on the bus (DO NOT fall asleep, trust me).

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Losing friends, not weight, in my 30’s

My goal at the moment is to get fitter and lose weight, but instead, I find my weight to stay the same (or go up) and the only things I seem to be losing are friends (well, that and my keys, my purse, my phone, and anything else I could possibly lose I guess…). But losing friends… that’s what’s bothering me. These are irreplaceable relationships and for some reason I can feel a number of them distancing themselves or cutting contact altogether. It hurts and it’s difficult to understand. Is it because I’m changing? Or maybe because I’m not changing and they are? I’m not sure. I’ve noticed this over the last year or two and I have to say, I can’t figure it out in several occassions. I’ve lost 4 close friends in the last 2 years. Close to the point where I would have considered them best friends. And 2 of them just dropped off the face of the Earth. They stopped responding to messages, stopped coming round, and just stopped all contact. No explanation, nothing. And the other 2, well, one of them explained that things were getting negative between us and then bailed – which is fine but it still hurt. The other one, I tried to talk to about her poor behaviour to me (she was yelling and screaming at me and even locked me out of a hotel room one night at 2am when we were travelling together) – and she ended up just unfriending me on facebook and, like the others, just stopped all contact.

These situations hurt me. It’s been probably about 6-8 months since they did that, and I still feel the pain and still wish I understood why, but like all relationships, sometimes things just don’t work out. But I feel it happening again now. I have a few friends who are always busy whenever I ask if they want to catch up, and I’m starting to get really upset about that. And then, I have 1 friend, Bill, who is a Fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) worker and every time he flies in we spend time together a few times in that week, but this time, he said he was busy when I asked to catch up with him the first night, and then he didn’t even get in touch with me for the rest of his stay at home. Maybe he’s busy, but it’s not like him to just ignore me all week. So I keep wondering: what am I doing wrong? I know when you hit your 30’s your friends change, your priorities change, your life changes… but it sucks. I have a few friends who have moved away and that’s hard enough, but for the ones who are still in the same vicinity and we were still catching up until recently, I don’t know what’s happened.

I know that the 4 I mentioned earlier were lost while I struggled with depression. For whatever reasons they had, all I can do is speak for myself. I was likely not as supportive as they needed or I was depressing to talk to or I needed something from them that was too much to ask – I’m not sure. But at this point, I’m feeling quite positive in my direction, striving to attain my goals, and have plenty of time for whoever needs me, whenever that may be. Even at my lowest, I always try to encourage and support my friends and so now, more than ever, I am that person. I guess this is just a time in life where your friends, priorities, and life changes. Maybe the ‘quarter life crisis’ doesn’t actually hit at 25, rather: 30.

A failed attempt in my 30’s

So, let’s put it this way: I fell off the wagon this weekend with regards to my diet and exercise. It was a long weekend and I started this eating/drinking on the Friday so… 4 days of excessive calories and no exercise. I wrote last week about my plans and, while I still hold on to my goals, I definitely fell off the wagon. I ate whatever I wanted, and I’m talking the good stuff: pizza, ice cream, tim tams, chips, etc. and I drank beer, wine, and even some baileys! So here I am midweek after that binge and I’m trying to recognise the triggers to that behaviour and how to prevent it from happening again. The problem is: I like it way too much. I’ve never been the kind of person who likes veggies or fruit, and I don’t think I’ll ever be that person. And, if I’m being perfectly honest, as I write this I’m nibbling on some lollies my boss brought in. It’s an affliction that many can relate to. Even when I make all the right choices at the supermarket, meal plan and prep, and I hide all the potential off-roading snacks and high calorie alcohol/juice – there’s always going to be temptation.

For me, this temptation is all around me in my social life and even at work – not to mention always on my mind! So I do what I can and what I’m working on now, is to not chastise myself when go off track. I don’t want to be miserable in my pursuit of health and weight loss. And, when I find myself feeling guilty about my consumption decisions I end up stressing myself out more, which then creates another barrier to my weight loss goals. So for the time being, in addition to calorie counting and exercising, I’m also focusing my energy on two specific things: waking up early and not being too hard on myself.

Just to summarise, when I say calorie counting, I use myfitnesspal to monitor my food intake. And, other than the weekend, I’ve been quite good at completing it and watching the number of calories that I consume versus the number I burn in exercise everyday. I have some meals I prep on Sunday or Monday for the week, each adding up to about 350-400 cals, and by prepacking these into portion-controlled containers, I manage to stay under 1200 calories each day, only adding more when I exercise. For exercise I have joined my boxing gym again and I have been going regularly three times each week. I set myself a minimum goal of three times each week and, although I had hoped to get up to four, I have hit my goal each week for the last three weeks. I’m calling that a win. I also walked to work today (seven kms), which is something I had started doing last summer and haven’t been able to since because I never wake up on time.

This brings me to my first ‘mini-goal’ that I’m now focusing on: waking up early! Yesterday I was walking with a friend at lunch – yes, I’ve even dragged my friends into my healthy choices with me – and she was telling me how early she gets up while I was complaining about how much I hate mornings. Thanks to this, she offered to give me a wake up call in the morning at 6am. I happily accepted thinking that would get me out of bed. Just in case, I set three alarms between 6 and 6:45. She called at 6:05 and again at 6:25 and I slept through both of those and my first two alarms, waking only for the 6:45 alarm… but I did it! Yesterday I slept through my normal alarms and woke up naturally at 9, which made me very late for work, so this change really needs to happen. And, even though I wasn’t awake quite as early as I wanted to be, I still managed to walk to work this morning. I don’t know what else to try so I can wake up earlier, but I know that sleeping in is a major barrier to the exercise I can do, since I’m already active in the evenings at least 3 times per week. I shall continue to try to get to bed early and wake early and hopefully after a while it’ll become routine right?!

And second ‘mini-goal’ for the moment is not being too hard on myself. Like a lot of other people, I find myself berating any steps in the wrong direction and creating a negative relationship with food and drink. I end up telling myself I was good or bad that day; if I ‘cheat’ on my diet then I was bad. But I’m not actually a bad person just because I wanted to have a beer (or wine or cake or or or) with friends. On the contrary, that makes me a social person. The decision to have a beer should be a conscious one, and I need to recognise the extra calories will mean a healthier dinner or extra exercise, but I want to get to a place where my decision to have a beer is just that: a decision. It’s just a beer. I’m not good or bad because of it, I just wanted a beer and I had a beer. I’ll see how I go with this one, I know it will be even harder than getting up with my alarm(s), as I have a very long-lived habit of self-sabotage and discounting my positive attempts by focusing on any negative. It’s all about the mindset, I just have to get there! 🙂

Getting back on track in my 30’s

Again, it’s been a long time since I posted. I was on holiday for a while, and then, to be honest, I was avoiding this – just like all other adult responsibilities. I really enjoy writing on here, but sometimes it feels like a chore, and I’ve been avoiding those things like the plague lately. But, that’s not to say that I haven’t been productive – on the contrary, I am quite proud of what I’ve accomplished over the last few weeks. Namely, that I’ve developed some goals. I’m no longer wandering around directionless – at least for now – and I’ve sorted out where my improvements should be focused within a few key areas of my life:

  • community and relationships (volunteering, strengthening friendships, determining my values for a potential romantic relationship)
  • personal development (write a bucket list, learn to use time/talents more effectively)
  • work and financial aspirations (obtain permanency, create financial security)
  • beliefs (stop sabotaging my successes, stop letting the past affect me negatively)
  • health and fitness (lose weigh, improve fitness level, run an obstacle challenge, etc)

These aren’t all of my goals, as I have 24 of them at the moment, but as part of these goals, I’m going to try turning this blog into something a bit more productive for my wellbeing. I’m going to try using it more effectively to help with my goals. First I would like to say that I’ve already made a few strides to accomplishing my goals (I’ve been interviewed, screened and accepted as a volunteer for the Red Cross yay!), but personal development doesn’t just stop at the first sign of success, it’s a constant improvement. And, after all my years in this body, I know that a lot of my depression stems from being overweight and, more importantly, unfit. So that’s the key area I will be focusing on for right now: health and fitness. My goals are as follows:

  • lose 15 kgs (ultimately)
  • improve fitness level
  • maintain healthy lifestyle
  • improve posture

In order to do this, I’ve broken these goals down into steps.

To lose that weight, I will create meal plans each week and use one day a week (Sundays at the moment) for meal prep. This way I have healthy foods readily available all week long. I’m going to monitor my calories in myfitnesspal which will let me eat a fairly normal diet of things, and just to monitor the calorie intake as opposed to going on a serious diet… I don’t do well on a diet. I end up cutting out sugars or wheat products or dairy or all of the above for a couple weeks, end up tired and feeling so lethargic that I can’t resist anymore and then binge eating everything I can get my hands on: which includes driving to wherever so that I can put my hands on burgers, chips, ice creams, whatever I so painstakingly discarded from my home a few weeks prior. But in the end, my biggest issue will be to moderate my alcohol intake. I drink daily. Not to oblivion, but a glass of wine/whiskey/beer here and there adds up to far more than any one person should in a week. I was sitting with my friend once and we looked up the standard amount of alcohol one person should have in a week: for a woman, it’s 8 standard drinks. My friend and I looked at eachother, and laughed as we looked at the empty beer bottles because we’d had 8 drinks that night alone… EACH! That’s not every night, but you get my point. So, my aim is to drink only on 1-2 days per week. This way, I’m still able to and won’t feel like I’m missing out, but I will not be ingesting all those empty calories daily.

To improve my fitness level, I have rejoined my boxing gym that I gave up on last year because I’d just tapered off my attendance until I was paying for something I was never using. And I plan to start and complete the bikini body challenge (BBG) – a 12 week guided-ish program – next week. Too much at once is a recipe for disaster, so I’m hoping by then I will have progressed enough to do some strength training in the mornings and boxing at night. I also wanted to play beach volleyball again this season, but I wasn’t able to find a partner, so that leaves training and social play at the weekends – which I have full intentions of attending.

To maintain this healthy lifestyle, I’ve enlisted my friends as my support system. I’ve added friends on MFP so they can see what I’m eating and when I complete my log. I’ve encouraged a friend to join boxing with me so we go together, and I have another one considering it after she comes back from a holiday – so I will be motivating her to join as well! I’ve also brainstormed with a friend to find alternative dates/activities to going out to a bar for a drink… I think the challenge will be finding dates who actually want to do this. It will be nice to find that though. 🙂

And, to improve my posture, I intend to begin stretching regularly at work (just quick arm and back stretches – I can’t be having my arse up in the air in some deformed yoga pose that I can’t quite get as the boss walks by) to ensure my desk-seated employment doesn’t work against me here, and I will try yoga on the mornings that I’m not doing the BBG. I’ve never been good at yoga, but I’ve downloaded a beginner’s program that will at least get me stretching. I’m also going to consciously stand/sit straighter instead of slouching in the worse positions imaginable – that for some reason are always the comfiest, until I try to stand from them and feel a kink in my neck or a charlie-horse in my hip!

I’m hoping that writing this all out here is like my pledge to myself. I want to be a better version of me, and although nothing changes overnight, my motivation is there and I want to stick with it until I reach my goals. I know I will fall off the wagon sometimes, but I know that it’s ok to slip if I can catch myself and get back on asap. This is not a quick fix, this is for life: for my life to be what I want it to be.

 

 

Indignant in my 30’s

I wrote last week about a bad day I was having… well, more like a bad week, but as with all storms, it has passed. However, in it’s wake I’m left feeling indignant. After dealing with all the drama from men who had no right to treat me as they did, I found myself angry about it. No one should have the power to make me feel bad and the whole time I was dealing with those bad few days I was moping around saying ‘I’m a good person, I don’t deserve this’. Well, life’s not fair and a lot of people go through things they don’t deserve and so my sadness turned to anger and I worked through that but not entirely: I’m still indignant. I still whole heartedly believe that I shouldn’t have been treated that way – no one should – but I’m also indignant about a few other areas of my life as well: work and home.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m on contract and my contract was recently up for renewal. Instead of being signed on for another year, I was offered 3 months. This is good, since it was at least renewed and I now have time to find something else, but I’m frustrated with the fact that I’ve been busting my butt at work for the last two years and I’ve received no job security. I could have been made permanent, but instead I’m being dragged along and I feel like I’m being taken for granted.

Another reason for this feeling is my tenancy. I’m looking at re-signing the lease for my rental and I saw that there are many other properties around me that are significantly cheaper or nicer. So I mention this to my property manager and ask for a rent reduction of $30/week to MATCH the price of a vacant unit in the very same complex as me – and the owner refused this. I’m frustrated because again, I feel like I’m being taken advantage of. I don’t want to move, I just want what’s fair. I set out a reasonable request, evidenced it with links to other properties (some of which are offering the same set up as mine but are slightly smaller and are $75/week less than my current rent). I’ve lived there for nearly two years, have never been late for a payment, get along with the neighbours and have cared for her place as if it were my own – not to mention the fact that I’m a neat-freak bordering on OCD. I know I’m biased, but I think she struck gold and yet, here I am, feeling taken advantage of. At the end of the day, I really shouldn’t worry about these things – if I sign on again it’s not that big of a deal financially, as it’s already what I pay, but I hate feeling this way.

Other than the indignation, I’m feeling much better than last week though, so I’m glad to be through that last storm. It was a bad one, the worst in a while.

An awful day in my 30’s

I’m significantly depressed today. I don’t mean to say that I wasn’t yesterday or the day before, it’s been building up, and today is just a very bad day. I got out of bed, which is more than I can say for myself two days ago, but to what end? I’m not sure. I came to work but I don’t know that I’m going to get anything done. The reason for coming was simply because I’d already taken one day off this week. Not because I feel loyal to my organisation – no, they’re not loyal to me. Not because I have work to be done – I have plenty, but no one else on my team is holding up their end of the bargain so why should I bust my ass for a project that’s not likely to amount to what I had hoped it would anyways? It’s because I feel guilty staying home. Because I feel like staying by myself will result in me wishing I was around people, but then the people I have already passed on my way into town, have made me want nothing more than to crawl under a rock until everyone has passed so that I can run home… and if it were closer, I swear I would – heels and all. These are the days that are so bad that I can’t figure out what I want or what I need and I just go along on autopilot because I simply don’t know what else to do. I haven’t had one of these really bad ones in a long time.

It’s stemming from a terrible weekend, a horrible date, exes not letting go and just constant feelings of inadequacy over the last few days. Friday night I had a date who was such a jerk that when I called him out on it he told me how unattractive I was and how I think too highly of myself because I didn’t buy him a beer (no, he hadn’t purchased me the round before – he made a big show of how he hated that women expected to be bought drinks/dinner on dates and he then expected me to pay for his beer). I was really only there for that beer to be polite and really, because it was a Friday night and since I’d set aside the time for the date, I didn’t have anywhere else to be. I had no intention of seeing this man again after the first 10 minutes, but I figured I’d give him the benefit of the doubt and maybe we could be friends or something… well that turned into him walking away from me at the bar because I stood my ground and didn’t buy his beer, only to come back half an hour later to throw a lot of insults my way. I ‘salvaged’ the night by chatting and continuing the night with some random people at the bar who turned out to be lovely, but inwardly I was still recounting every horribly thing that man said to me. In attempts to it drown out, I drank way too much and woke up the next day feeling very sorry for myself.

Saturday I dealt with my hangover as best as possible and I proceeded to go for coffee,  build some furniture (as expected), go for a walk, and head to volleyball – all as expected. I was so hungover I was shaking and feeling very insecure and unsure of myself, and while I want to say this hasn’t happened in a while, this has actually happened twice in the last few months. Apparently I’m now binge drinking when I end up in a situation I can’t deal with – I know, it’s not good and I will watch that it doesn’t turn into a worse problem, but for now, I’m focusing on these events. When I went to volleyball, luck would have it that I was paired with 1 lovely (quiet) man and 2 chauvenistic jerks of men, who refused to pass me the ball, talk strategy with me and would even body check me out of the way to get to the ball that was perfectly passed to me by the other team. I should say here, I’m actually a pretty good volleyball player, but they were playing their own game and every time I would try to get into it, I would get pushed aside – and I have the bruises to prove it. So I left that night, feeling inadequate in every way, because even though I didn’t feel good, I’d rallied so that I could go and engage in a sport that I love and get some physical activity, which I know is a great help to me when I feel down. Did I mention this is a social club? There’s literally NO prize for winning and people come and go as they please.

Sunday and Monday I spent sulking, leaving the house only to go watch Game of Thrones at a friend’s house. Monday I was ‘warned’ by my friend to stay away from the bar in my Office building because my ex was there. Thanks for the warning, but it bothers me that my ex still comes to this bar. I know I don’t own the bar, but if I knew where he currently worked (he’s changed jobs since we broke up), then I would be considerate enough to avoid it. And yet, every time he’s in town I get a warning message from my friend to say that he’s chosen the bar in my office building again. Well, I can’t avoid it when I’m at work, I have to walk out the door literally right next to the bar to go home – and he knows this. I know this isn’t a game of ‘turf wars’ but come on, have some courtesy and attend any of the other 200 bars in the city please! Fortunately I was home on Monday so I didn’t have to worry about running into him.

What I didn’t expect though, was to receive a message from the Dr that I was dating 2 months back who completely ghosted me. He played so many games with me that even though we were only dating for 2 months, it took me just as long to get over him. His message to me was ‘heard a song (Skinny Love by Birdy) and thought of you’. I said thanks and left it at that – I didn’t want to be rude, but I also don’t want to go down that path – and then he sent me a few more messages that were begging me to ask questions and complete with a kissy-face emoji and I was instantly back to where I was 2 months ago questioning every one of them: ‘what does this mean?!?!’ Instead of walking down that path, I wished him well, deleted the thread, and haven’t stopped thinking about it since… but at least I’m not acting on it.

Tuesay I went to my friend’s house for ‘steak night’, where I was uncharacteristically quiet until I had a beer in me and everyone else seemed a little tipsy already, then I figured I was ‘safe’ and that no one would realise quite how negative I was being, because everyone else was having fun. I went to dinner at my friend’s house – the same one that told me I was work obsessed last week – with the couple across the way coming as well. Normally I love hanging out with these people, but last night I realised I’m sitting in my friend’s new place with all his new furniture and looking around at how well he’s done for himself I felt pride, but also significantly inadequate (again) since I am renting and have no assets of my own. Then the couple came over and again, as happy as I was to be visiting with them, the big, shiny engagement ring that she was wearing was glaring in my eyes as a reminder of what I’d had once upon a time, and given it up for what only feels like loneliness in this current downward spiral. I found myself unintentionally competing with everything anyone said, as if trying to ‘keep up with the Joneses’. I apologised this morning and was laughed off saying no one else noticed, but I still feel bad that I engaged in such behaviour with my friends.

I woke up this morning and decided that if I stayed in bed, there was a chance I’d never want to get out, and so I struggled, but I forced myself to get up. I did some push-ups and some sit-ups as a quick mood boost so I wouldn’t return back to bed, and I decided to get into my new dress and make myself feel good. Well, it turned out to be too small in the arms. This ‘tailor made’ dress is too small – great. So I rummaged through the closet until I found a loose-fitting comfortable dress that I can hide beneath all day, and that was my last straw of a bad few days, thus bringing me to my terribly depressed mood. I got in to work to find my morning meeting extended to twice what it should be while I have a mountain of work to get done. My only consolation is that there is an enormous rain storm outside (the biggest of the season so far), which is (oddly enough) making me feel less alone in this depressed state; as if the black cloud that has been following me around has ultimately gotten so big as to bring the whole city into it’s shadow. It will pass soon enough, and I just hope my own storm goes with it.

Work obsessed in my 30’s

Last night I went out with a few friends to a local pub for food and drinks. I met one of them, Tyson, early to catch up 1-1 before the others got there. We were talking and I saw his eyes glaze over and then all of a sudden he said ‘here you go bringing work to drinks again’ and it left me a bit dumbfounded. We’ve always talked a lot about our respective careers, mainly because we’re both ambitious and were in contract positions. He was offered permanency about two months ago, but I’m still contract and so my conversations are usually working out all the little ‘hints’ of whether my contract will be extended or not. Naturally, that’s what I was doing last night because I’d gotten a few ‘big hints’ about my future in the department – namely, someone at my level is going on maternity leave soon – so I was going through these things and using Tyson as my sounding board, as I always do. I was surprised to hear him so annoyed at me because I was talking about work! Maybe it was because now that he’s permanent he’s no longer as interested with the intricacies as I am? Or maybe I’m actually obsessed and talk way too much about work! I told him that I hadn’t realised I do it and he responded with ‘it’s all you talk about and honestly, it doesn’t even sound like you like your job’ which was another surprise: I love my job! At least I thought I did.

I think on my quest to attain permanency I’ve forgotten what I really enjoy about it. I’ve gotten used to it here. I know the people, I know the work, there’s always something new and challenging coming up – which I love… but perhaps that’s what I love and not the job itself? I haven’t stopped to think about it since I started here really. This job is so perfectly suited to my skills that I just naturally thought I loved it, but realistically, I don’t know what it is I love about it now that I was called out by Tyson. I love that I’m in a position to make a difference across the entire state, but recently I started looking into how much of a difference this office actually makes and, it turns out, it’s not much of one – which has been a depressing battle of mine since I figured that out, and it’s made me less excited to come to work every day. So, I tried to break it down into aspects of my job that I will either like or dislike:

  • nature of the work : like.
  • content of the projects : like.
  • background of the projects : dislike.
  • people at work : dislike (with very few exceptions).
  • office dynamics : dislike.
  • loyalty of managers to me : none, so, dislike.
  • efficiency of the Office : dislike.
  • managerial style : loved until my boss left and was replaced inadequately so, dislike.
  • job security : none, so, dislike.

The list could continue should I continue to delve into it, but as I go, I get more and more depressed about it. I really thought that I love what I do and now I think I may be wrong. I love researching and investigating and holding people accountable and being able to affect change, which are all things that led me down this path, but the background of anything I work on stems from child deaths, and I have to read into each one of them. It’s awful, sad and ultimately depressing. I have always been able to do it knowing that if I can affect change by writing my report and save even one child’s life, then it’s worth the struggle I deal with on a daily basis in reading about all these children for whom it’s too late to save. Recently (a few months ago) I realised that the reports I work on, thus far, haven’t affected change though, and that’s significantly more depressing. And forget the accountability aspect: it’s a joke! If something is not done that we’ve recommended, there’s no repercussions at all. It makes me wonder why I’m doing this at all. I hope that maybe there’s a difference to someone. Maybe the stats would have increased had it not been for the reports, and a brief analysis indicates that this is likely, but it’s awful to see the same numbers, or even rising numbers in some instances, across a range of issues that are ultimately preventable deaths.

Now I’m just starting to get into a rant about work and I realise maybe Tyson was right. Maybe I do bring my work home with me far more than I should. I guess it’s unrealistic to expect to read about a child’s death (and usually I have to read and research multiple) and then at 5:00 just leave it all at the door on the way out without any adverse effects on my mental health. I thought I was doing alright with the balance, but perhaps I was leaning too hard on my friend as a sounding board to get through the particularly rough days. I’d never go into details and I’d usually just end up complaining about my colleagues or a deadline or something, but still. If I take the nature of my work out of the equation for a moment and even look at job security in itself, the outcome is not much better. As I am on contract here, I can’t plan anything too far into the future and I never feel secure in my work. I won’t buy a house because I don’t want such an investment in the instance that I am not renewed. I feel like moving forward in my life is currently on hold. I’ve been here for two years now and watched several people made permanent in other teams, but for me, there’s no permanency because I’m in a requirement-based position. It’s frustrating to give heart and soul to a job and not have any loyalty shown to me. In two years, how has there not been a business case approved to make me permanent? I’m consistently told that I’m working higher than what’s expected of my level and that my work is very well done. I’m commended for my enthusiasm and I was even told last week that I’m ‘integral’ to the success of the project I’m currently working on. That’s my manager’s word, not mine, so how is it possible that I have not been made permanent?

I like to think that I’m making a difference and I like to think that my manager will continue to have my back in at least renewing my contract, but at the end of the day, who knows. I take pride in a job well done and I figured that the feeling of being drained at the end of the day (or midday on some occassions), and always wanting to indulge in more wine than I should after work, was ultimately a result of my work ethic and that it was just something that comes with a career; but maybe not. I had no idea how much ‘work’ I was actually taking home with me every evening until last night’s conversation with Tyson. It was a rude awakening and something I need to now seriously consider.

Considering an alternate future in my 30’s

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and it’s long past time to get back to it! A lot has happened since my last post – namely, a holiday for 2.5 weeks to attend my mom’s wedding and visit with friends and family. Needless to say, it was an emotional rollercoaster. I’m going to talk about my mom’s wedding day in another post, because that was a big one for me and I ended up having an anxiety attack in the middle of the afternoon, but before I get to it, I want to touch on one other point: the vision of an alternate future.

Going home to visit family is always an emotional thing for me because I live so far away. It takes the better part of 2 days to travel there and then when I get there I usually only have a few weeks. This time I had 13 days at home, including the day I arrived and the day I left. I arrived and, as usual, was instantly pulled in all different directions. Mom wants me to do wedding stuff with her (she always wants me to do stuff with her – even just errands), dad wants to just ‘sit and chat’ (because he makes himself so busy doing chores at home, he never wants to do anything other than rest), my cousins are there for short visits (a couple days) and are asking when I can fit them in, while my friends patiently wait for me to schedule myself some time with them as well. Add games nights with my aunts/uncles, plus family barbeques, plus beach days, and in this instance, a one-day hike that I was planning before I even got there) and it gets very hectic. I’m blessed to be surrounded by so many people who love me and, to be honest, if it was any other way, I would probably be sad that my loved ones aren’t making a bigger deal about my return home! But still, it can be draining and it always ends up being a very tight schedule which is anxiety inducing in itself, and also why I never have time to see secondary friends (it sounds awful, but it’s the best description I can think of), aquaintances, or old mates from other eras of my life. This time I did.

This time I saw a friend from highschool that I no longer talk to, simply because he’s one of my best friend’s brother. Ben was my first love in highschool. We never dated, but he was my best friend in grades 9 and 10. We did everything together and he was always the person I looked forward to seeing and talking to. We had so much fun together. I left in grade 11 for a year as an exchange student and when I came back in grade 12 he told me he loved me and that he couldn’t be ‘just’ my friend, he needed more. I was devastated because I didn’t want more, I wanted things back to the way they were. And that’s where we parted ways really. I saw him at school and stuff, but it was never the same and we really didn’t hang out at all after that. But this time I was home, I went with my friend to pick up her kids at ‘uncle Ben’s’ house and I got to see him for the first time in about 10 years. I saw him in his backyard, with his wife (whom I knew about but was just meeting for the first time) and neices and nephews around him and for a brief flash I thought ‘wow, this could have been my life’.

I didn’t hug him to say hello and I stood there awkwardly for a while because I didn’t trust myself to know what to do. This is a rare occurrence for me. Despite some difficulty at times, I seem to always know what to do and I’ve been thrown into awkward spots before and managed them far better than this encounter. I watched him walk across the grass and laugh at something I had said to his nephew and as soon as I heard his laugh it was like time stopped and I was ‘home’. I was frozen. It was surreal and quite emotional for me. I managed to play it off well enough but I recognised that in the 20 minutes I spent with him while his wife and my friend packed up the kids, I was babbling some times, staring at him awkwardly at other times, and my palms had gotten all sticky and sweaty. I was so nervous it was like I was being interrogated in court and yet I was talking to someone who used to be my best friend. I couldn’t believe it. Twenty minutes with him and I was so affected that I started to wonder if I’d made the right choices all the way back to grade 12, when I told him I couldn’t be with him.

Ultimately I know I made the right choice, and seeing him and further considering these things solidified that, but at the time, it was a whirlwind of considerations. I instantly got jealous of his wife thinking ‘that should have been me!’. His dog kept coming up to me and I smuggly thought ‘even the dog likes me’, which I know is ridiculous. I looked around at his manicured backyard and thought how cosy it would be to set up a lawn chair and read my book in the sun next to the back corner of the garage. I took in the children’s activities that were set out for my friend’s kids and thought how nice it would be to be taking part in them and watching these kids grow up. And, oddly enough, he has a rickshaw and he takes the kids for rides in it so when I saw that, all I could think was that I could be in that rickshaw! I could be sitting with the littlest ones while Ben pretended his nephew was helping to pull us around. And in this little image we were in a park and we were all laughing happily and everything was as it would be in a movie. And that’s when I realised that I was imagining a movie scene, just with us as the characters, and if I’m being totally honest, in this vision I’d ‘stolen’ my friends kids and imagined them as my own. I thought to myself ‘does this mean I want this?’ ‘does this mean that I’m unhappy in my choice of life?’ ‘does this mean I… made a mistake?’.

I was quite conflicted after this little visit and for a few hours I was zoning out imagining a different future and what it would have looked like for me to have said yes to Ben all those years ago. And yes, I know he was just asking to be my boyfriend, not my husband, but had I said yes, we would’ve ended up together. We were great together and he loved me as much as I did him, but that was never going to be my life. Even then, as hard as it was to say no, I knew that my life was never going to turn out like that. I’ve always reached for the stars and would never have contented myself to a life in my hometown with my highschool sweetheart, simply because I would always have wondered what else is out there for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve questioned many of my decisions, particularly the ones that were the scariest and required the most change, but somethings I just knew I’d done right. This was one of them. As I continued to mull over this movie-scene alternate future I had envisioned, I became content with the fact that I made the right choice. It makes me smile to think of Ben, his wife and the kids all playing together, but it doesn’t make me sad to think that I’m not there. I’m not missing out on any potential future of mine, I’m simply daydreaming about a future that could never be – which is why it seems so perfectly movie-esk. I figure it’s the same as imagining my future with a movie star or the cute guy I pass on my way to work in the morning… someone that I don’t know and can imagine whatever scenario I want to. It’s a dream, it’s a fantasy, but it would never be reality.

The reality of my life is the one I’m living. I’ve travelled across the world, I’ve seen and experienced more than most people will in their lifetimes, and I’m blessed in knowing that I’m happy with all the decisions that have brought me here, for good or bad, because without any of them, I wouldn’t ever have made it to this exact moment. And, although I’m having a particularly good day (which has been a bit rare in the last few months), I can see that my life suits me better than any alternate life I could ever have imagined for myself.

Me:1, anxiety:0 – in my 30’s

Ever feel like your drowning in responsibilities and there’s no way to find your way out? Well that was me on Monday. This morning I had an interview at 8am, and tonight I leave at 8pm to fly overseas for a few weeks. This weekend I injured myself at volleyball by ripping out 2 earrings that caught on the net and hurting my index finger as well. It was suggested to me that it may be broken, but I’m taping it up at the moment and hoping for the best. And my ear, well, there’s nothing I can do but wait for it to heal and for the swelling to reduce. And I was fighting off a head cold, so all in all, this weekend I did not feel great and I spent the days recovering and not preparing for my trip or my interview aside from doing basic things like printing reports and doing laundry. I’m also trying to sell some stuff on gumtree, and learning a song for my mom’s wedding (because yes, she wants me to sing: which is nerve-wracking because I don’t sing anywhere other than drunk karaoke or in the shower), and trying to clean up my flat for a stupid rental inspection… this is a lot for me to take on – especially when I suffer from anxiety.

Monday I leave work intending to have a hell-productive evening and thus, when I get home I cook up some dinner, sit down to eat it and hear my cat come through the window… with a live rat. Or mouse. I thought it was a mouse, but I’ve been told it’s a rat so that’s what I’ll call it, but whatever it was, it was a rodent that should not be in my house. She lets it go and it takes off under the coffee table and thus begins Monday’s rat race (see what I did there?). The cat and I finally managed to corner it and I got it outside eventually – after what can only be described as a Chevy Chase movie script in the making – and spent the rest of the night cleaning the floors of rat blood and other nasties it was trailing behind it. And that, in the midst of the rat race, is when I reached my stress limit.

It was dark and I saw a shadow with a tail run and my cat close to its heels and I first turn my flashlight on knowing full well that there’s something in the flat. I get to the lightswitches, turn them on and know where the creature is based on the cat’s behaviour. She’s got it trapped under the coffee table. So in a panic I empty the laundry basket full of clothes (that I had JUST finished folding) and tip it upside down – well, the handles are higher than the basket so it doesn’t sit flush with the floor. So I’m in a panicky state and I remember a big plastic punch bowl I have in my kitchen. So I’m standing guard on the coffee table holding a punch bowl when the thing runs out. I’d like to say I dealt with it calmly, but I can’t: I screamed like a child seeing a ghost. The cat fortunately had better senses and followed it into the kitchen where she’s continuing to play with it. It’s not big, and she’s having fun, but I don’t want a rat death in my home and find this torturous to the poor little rodent. She she corners it and in I come with my punch bowl… I managed to get the bowl over the rat against the cat’s wishes, and then I had no idea what the hell to do. I was so caught up with catching the rat. And that’s when panic started to set in again. I called a friend – no answer. I called another friend – no answer. I looked through my phone to see who else I could call and that’s when it hit me:

I’m not this useless, I’m just overwhelmed. So I weighted the bowl down with the closest thing I could find (happened to be one of those big bottles of bleach) and I sat down. Right on the floor, right in front of the bowl o’ rat. I sat and watched my cat run around the bowl trying to get in and the rat, running around inside the bowl, trying to get out. With one trying to get in and the other trying to get out, it reminded me of the scene in the Lion King and the exchange between Timon and Zazou: “Let me out! Let me out!” “Let me in! Let me in!” and then I just couldn’t help myself: I started laughing uncontrollably at the ridiculousness of the situation, and I self-talked myself down off of my metaphoric ledge. I was nearly paralysed with panic; not only because of this rat, but the rat was the last straw in a fairly stressful few days for me, but at the end of the day, none of it was too much to overcome.

Continuing with the Chevy Chase themed hilarity, I got the rat out by sliding an old pizza box (thank you lazy dinner the previous night) under the bowl, holding the bowl still and firm with my chin (so yes, my face was next to the rat with only some plastic between us), and opening the door with my free hand. I walked it down the driveway and into the parking lot while I wore my fuzzy slippers and set it free in a bush on the edge of the property. Proud of myself, I took the bowl and I headed back down the walkway near my flat… where my cat jumped out of a bush and scared the crap out of me! Bowl goes flying over my head and I start running up the stairs taking 2 at a time when I see her pass me, even more terrified than I was because of my reaction. I’m laughing as I type this out – in hindsight it was hilarious. At the time, I screamed bloody murder, almost started to cry, and knocked my shin on 1 or more cement stairs. Once I realised it was just the cat, I stopped, went back down to get the bowl (ever so thankful it was plastic), went into the house, poured a stiff whiskey and took a big drink, and then I started cleaning the floors.

This may not seem like a big deal to most people, but I am so proud of how I was able to reassess the situation midway through and realise that it was not worth all the panic I was feeling. I’m now through my interview, at work on a break, and I haven’t even started packing for my trip – on which I will leave in 6 hours… but instead of freaking out, I’m just so damned proud of myself for handling that problem on Monday night. Last night (Tuesday), I got home with such a level head I couldn’t believe the calm and peace I felt the night before an interview. And this morning? Same thing. I woke up tired (I’m not a morning person) and instead of succumbing to the stresses of leaving tonight and the interview this morning, I casually got ready, caught an early bus, ate breakfast, had a coffee and showed up to the interview: on my terms. I wasn’t nervous, I did the best I could and I really feel like I crushed it! 🙂

So, for this round at least: me: 1, anxiety:0

Social pressures of being in my 30’s

While scrolling through facebook last night, I saw a little video clip of a man making a speech. I have no idea what the rest of his speech was about but the part this video showed was him saying:

‘… if a woman is 32, never been married, and never had any kids, then something is wrong with her… in my experience this has been true…’ He was implying that this ’32 year old woman’ should be avoided at all costs!

A woman stood up and countered this argument saying (I’m paraphrasing because it was a long rant):

if a woman is 32, unmarried with no dependents, it’s because she’s educated, career-oriented, and ‘a boss’ (I took this liberally, I doubt she actually meant ‘his boss’, but I’d like to believe that this is the case) who anyone would be lucky to have.

Why is this even a conversation that’s being had? Don’t people realise that we put enough pressure on ourselves based on personal, societal and familial expectations? I’m turning 32 this year and I have no prospect of a husband before that time. It doesn’t mean that this year, on my birthday, I’m going to wake up damaged (or anymore damaged than I already am haha) to the point that something is significantly wrong with me and I’ve now passed into the threshold of unmarriable. I’m not where I thought I would be by this age… but I’ve also experienced, endured and conquered so much more than I ever thought I would. In my 31 years on this earth, 21 were spent at home in Canada, educating myself and enjoying my life: getting first level degrees in Law and Justice and Political Science, learning French, playing sport, making friends and developing general social skills. In the other 10 years I travelled to 47 different countries (I recently found out that it wasn’t 50, which I thought it was: that was a tough day, but not in the way you’d think, and that’s enough for a whole other post). In these experiences I’ve:

  • lived in 6 countries (found work, apartment, friends, made a life, etc),
  • travelled in 6 continents,
  • backpacked,
  • met locals from these countries and discussed culture, religion, etc.,
  • met randoms and made friends I’ve still maintained to this date,
  • pushed my limits in everyway and recognised my strengths,
  • fought off several assaults (both sexual and non) and one kidnapping,
  • experienced natural wonders,
  • observed natural phenomena most people would only see in books or on tv,
  • completed a Master of Human Rights,
  • found a career I love (even if contractual at the moment),
  • breached six figures as my salary at 30 years old,
  • adopted a cat,
  • donated blood and money to charity, volunteered, etc…
  • started to learn Italian,
  • begun personal-interest courses and learning in Psychology,
  • found my favourite hobby/sport (beach volleyball),
  • found out I’m artistic(ish): crocheted a blanket, cross-stitched, painted, etc…
  • this list could go on forever.

How is it that someone who has accomplished this much can still be seen as unmarriable? By these ‘social’ standards, I’m a failure. I have such a hard time wrapping my head around how this can be so ingrained in Western culture still today. I’ve always achieved every goal I’ve set for myself other than the ones that society forces on women (and some men, I know) of a certain age. My original ‘life-long career goal’ was to be in a position to manipulate government policy. Well, that happened 2 years ago and I found myself in a strange position. At that point I was engaged, living in paradise, educated, had travelled, and had at that point realised that I had already accomplished the career goal I had assumed would take me a lifetime: all before I turned 30. And rather than relish in this success, I found myself lost.

Despite social pressures, I realised I was not living to my full potential. I decided to redevelop a career goal to work towards and acknowledge that it’s not a life-long one. When I accomplish this one, and I will soon (I’m currently awaiting publication in Parliament and then I will have completed it), I will develop a new goal and work towards that one. I also realised at that point that I was engaged to the wrong person, and I decided that society can go f*ck itself. I’m not choosing to marry the wrong person just so that I won’t ‘miss my chance’ as I get older. It was a very tough decision and it’s had lasting effects, but, 18 months on and I’m still strong. All of my experiences have had lasting effects and some of them have hardened me more than most would be comfortable with (you try fighting off being dragged into a van in the middle of Africa and have it not alter your perspectives)… but I have to state my opinion here: I’m far from unmarriable (yes, I’m biased).

My main focus at the moment is a personal goal. And it’s to see myself for who I truly am and to figure out which path suits me best – regardless of society and outward opinions. It’s also partially why I started this blog – to develop personally, but also in hopes that it reaches anyone else who is struggling at the moment. I may not be able to change society or social standards, but maybe I can shed some light on a different perspective. I struggle daily with what I have accomplished vs what I should have accomplished by now. I’m aware that my biological clock is ticking and I don’t need any misogenysts or antequated theories to remind me of this. But I’m also aware that I may not want children or a husband, and that until now, I’ve lived a life most others haven’t. So why then, am I still holding myself to the same standard that I’m arguing against? Because of those social standards telling me where I should be at this point. I have to say though, trying to fit myself into this little box with everyone else is truly taking away from all the things that make me who I am.

Weathering the storm in my 30’s

Today I’m struggling. Well, actually, for the last hour or two I’ve been struggling, before that I was fine. I had a good chat to my mom this morning, I indulged in some furniture shopping yesterday and am excited about my new stuff, and I was in a meeting with my boss this morning where I received praise for a job well done. I’ve been texting my hair dresser with photos of what I want done on Saturday, I got my ‘plasma donation’ reminder text (which always makes me feel good) and I’ve been looking at my week, so packed with social activities/dates/etc that I have no time for much of anything else. So why then, about an hour ago, did I just come crashing down emotionally and hit rock bottom?

I often have times like this. It’s not even days sometimes where it’s ‘good days and bad days’… sometimes it’s hours. My mom calls this a ‘storm’. This morning I woke in a great mood and was ready to seize the day. The day has continued to be a good one, and yet, right now, it’s everything I can do to not just get up and walk out. Where? No idea. But sometimes life just feels too hard. For the most part, I’m a very resilient person, but because of this, I book myself too much to do and then normal life becomes overwhelming. Take Saturday for example: Saturday I got up nice and early to find my cat had rolled in mud and climbed into my bedroom window overnight. So first thing I did was give her a bath and wash ANYTHING she had made contact with. She’s normally clean, so this is the first time I’ve ever had to bathe her (I adopted her in October after previously fostering her for nearly a year). Then I went to an hour’s karate class, followed by an hour’s kickboxing class from 9-11. My friend had asked if I could fill in for her softball team because they didn’t have enough players to even fill the field, so I got home and changed from one set of sportswear into the next with a quick sponge off of a shower and off I went to get there for 12-2 softball. I haven’t laughed like that in a long time, it was such a funny game! Anyways… it was a 30 minute drive away so I got home about 245 and had to tell my date that I would not make it for our 3:00 meet up, but that I would be there at 3:30. So into the shower for a proper scrub this time and back into the car to meet my date – a first date – with wet hair, an empty stomach and mismatched socks because (of course) I’d run out of laundry. We get take away coffees and go for a walk around the nearby lake – it was a lot of fun. 🙂 Then I realise it’s already 5:15 and I was meant to be at indoor volleyball at 5:30. Fortunately volleyball was a social event and I was able to rush back home, change into my fourth set of clothes that day and get there at 6pm. I’m stuffing Bhuja mix (it’s a yummy snack if you don’t know what it is) in my face while I drive there, but I’m glad I went when I did because I was put on a team with a guy I have a bit of a crush on and 2 other lovely people… and had a blast again. I left indoor volleyball at 10:30, was in bed by 12 and up again at 7am to get to the beach for an 8am beach volleyball session.

Saturday was SO much fun, but by the time Sunday afternoon came around, I had to cancel another first date I had organised because I was so physically exhausted I could barely move. But I still had to do some chores because I’d now gone through every bit of sportswear I own (including some old stuff I wouldn’t choose to wear), and had to cook up some food to eat, and I went shopping because a dining set I’d been waiting on for ages came on sale and it wouldn’t last until next weekend (the shop’s only open until 4 – of course – so I have to go at the weekend because I’m otherwise working). I felt ill by the evening. So now, I’m having a down few hours, and I’ve booked myself some time in the week (the social nightmare I mentioned earlier) to do some stuff of my own, and tonight is one of those nights. I have been trying to do karate and kickboxing at a local dojo and while I do really enjoy it, I just can’t find the time to go very often because, I get too busy or exhausted, and then that’s the first to go. My nights set aside for karate and kickboxing were Monday and Wednesday – so I’m just succumbing to the fact that I need some ‘me’ time more than I need any extra training of any kind, but here’s the catch: I already have a list of things to do that I neglected because I had such a busy weekend. Tonight’s ‘me time’ will involve stopping at a local spice shop for ingredients, dishes, cooking breakfasts and lunches for my work week, finishing/folding the laundry, selling my current table, picking up a few photo frames, cleaning the shelves in the kitchen (because something spilled over at the weekend), and, if at all possible, vaccuming – because my muddy cat left sand/dirt everywhere. Sounds relaxing!

Normally I love a busy life, and lead a busier life than most, but the issue I struggle with is moderating this life. I fill my time with so many activities that I end up struggling just to juggle daily chores – like tonight’s – and can’t be comfortable until they’re done. I guess I’m also a bit obsessive in that respect. Oh, and I’m also going overseas next week. So I have 8 days to get my affairs in order (packing, cleaning for a friend to come in and feed little miss muddy while I’m away, etc). Which is heaps of time, if I wouldn’t schedule a social life that takes up 98% of my time and energy. I know I sound ridiculous in complaining about this, but what’s troubling me is this: why do I feel the need to fill every moment? What is so fundamentally lacking from my life that I can’t stand to be idle? Whenever I have a moment to myself I start feeling down and I hate that I do because I can’t justify it; I have a great life! But I still feel lost/confused/alone and some emotions that I have no words for, and this is why I feel like I’m struggling with daily life right now. Not today, cause this morning I had it all figured out and was happy as a clam (where did this saying come from?), but right now, I’m struggling. My mom termed it well: she said to me this morning that I have ‘storms’ because they’re intense at the time, but they always pass. I know it’s residual from my anxiety/depression struggles over the last 18 months or so, but I can’t wait until the day comes when the storms are more of a drizzle or foggy mist.