We all know what it’s like. We want to be the very best version of ourselves’. And we can’t help falling short.
I don’t know about you, but 2020 has been a strange year so far. I’m not referring to Coronavirus, floods, what’s happening in Iran or any other global events.
It’s been a bit stop-start. Perhaps Mercury is retrograde – again. I don’t know, I haven’t checked my horoscope.
But at times, I’ve wanted to crawl into the foetal position and suck a metaphorical thumb. At times, I’ve lost my way.
I like myself, I am often proud of myself. But oh my goodness, how I annoy myself at times. There’s been the procrastination; the time wasted scrolling on social media (yes, we’ve all been guilty of that at various moments). There’s been the times I’ve elected to work on something easy and convenient and not what gives me true fulfilment; what really needs to be done.
All the little things
So, here’s a confession. Another one. You’ve seen me making quite a few this past week, some a little less controversial than others.
I probably spend around two or three hours a day checking various social media accounts and loading and refreshing websites to see whether – at last – they’ve published the articles they’ve commissioned me to produce.
I seem to be in need of some attention, or put another way, some validation. I need to know that as I make a fundamental shift – to my career and across all parts of my life – I can point to concrete examples of things I’ve completed and done to compensate for giving up a well-paid and defined job. I suffer from a form of status anxiety which is highly problematic because I also want to be a coach and free others from such worries. But I know working as a coach is to work as much on oneself as it is to work in service of others.
There’s two damn books I need to edit and write and blow me down, but they’re not going to get written by themselves. This is mainly solitary work, except for – attention-deficit disorder alert – the moments I take an extract and enter it into a writing competition. And it’s this element of competition that seems to be spurring me on.
Early but the days are flying past
I’ve reflected elsewhere about how I enjoy getting older. How age is just a number. I still hold these sentiments, but I’ve never known a period where the days seem to fly quite as quickly; when I get to bed and think, ‘what on earth have I actually achieved?’
I am now the same age my Dad was when he had three kids. I look back, as always, and remember how twenty-five years’ ago it was my Barmitzvah, aged 13. When my Dad looked back, in 1983, reflecting on his childhood self in 1958, I wonder how far he felt he’d come. I think he’d travelled very far in that period. He’d bought a house, was now Dad to three growing kids, was investing in property and shares, and seen The Beatles.
I don’t compare myself unfavourably because I don’t feel I’ve been a failure or anything like that. But still, I wonder what I can really grasp in one hand and say, right, ‘that’s mine.’ And the closest I came to Paul McCartney was at the end of the Mall in 2012, when he was wheeled out as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
From conspiracy to making it count
There are the days I can’t even get a tap to turn. The days the internet connection doesn’t work. The days we’re all advised to stay indoors. The days Priti Patel and Boris Johnson remind me what a crap world we live in: when lies and injustice reign. There are the days Jose Mourinho moans a little more and Spurs lose (again). There are the days dubious agencies in Barcelona suddenly go quiet and don’t pay you your salary for teaching English.
There are the days you shower at the gym, and you drop the key to your locker down a drain. There are the days when you can’t take a shower at all, because the one at home only runs cold. There are the days you know you need to take steps to become resident in Spain because this damn transition period is only going to last so long. There are the days you feel a grinding sense you’re only walking at the pace of the tortoise. You can fall into egocentric traps and only see conspiracies, of how the world is designed to thwart your progress.
There are the days we suddenly lose loved ones. The really serious days, when we learn we’re unwell. There are the days companies tell us there’s going to be redundancies. Days your partners wants something else. There are the days when your parents lose their memory; the days your children no longer give you a hug.
Life can be hard. The key, of course, is to still make every day count.
To run, sing, read, laugh, smile, tell stories, sew buttons, learn the piano, speak new languages; cook an oven-ready pizza, buy our kids new shoelaces, pay the gas bill. They’re not wasted. Every single moment matters, however mundane they seem. You’re not losing your way, you’re just finding it.