(N.B. – I am not always this zen. As anyone who knows me even moderately well will recognise, I am:
2) a chronic over-thinker
3) more than a little bit feisty, if we're being completely honest – and we are.
... so I don't always find it easy to bounce back when I go through challenging situations and phases in life...
... or to let it go...
... but I found this exercise to be helpful, and I hope you will too. I hope it inspires a couple of you to think about the versions of events that we tell ourselves, and others, about our own lives every day.
A note of thanks for the job that made me who I am today
Thank you for helping to bring long-repressed issues to the surface, so that I could properly start to deal with them
I often tell people that I developed anxiety when I was going through a stressful time at work (I even say as much on this very site). It would be more accurate to say that the anxiety had been there, lurking deep-down and popping up in surprising ways, for years. I had a full-time job, a fixed routine and a variety of coping mechanisms (some healthier than others): I was highly functioning. I am glad that these sneaky brain gremlins have finally been brought into the light so that I can start to take the proper measures to improve my mental wellbeing.
Thank you for teaching me not to be so reliant on the praise and approval of others
I am terrible at this. As someone who has struggled with insecurity and self-doubt for over half my life, I crave other people's praise like a glass of water in the desert. I bathe in it, luxuriate in it. "I didn't think I was very good, but so-and-so told me I was brilliant!"
One of the lesser-discussed downsides of basing your self-worth on the (apparent) opinions of others is that praise can be taken away just as quickly and easily as it is given. But I am still the same person – worthy of love, respect and care – regardless what other people tell me about myself.
Thank you for reminding me of my values, preferred ways of working and ways of being
In my career so far I've been fortunate to be able to work with a huge number of people. I think it's great to have a mix of very different personalities and working styles in a team, bringing diversity and a wide range of perspectives. Occasionally, I have had times where I feel like I don't fit in with whatever the established office culture is, and that can be hard. It's times like these when I can fully appreciate how important my values and preferred approaches are to me: authenticity, assertiveness, directness, passion, integrity and balance.
Thank you for inspiring me to try a different path
(I couldn't possibly end this blog without a bit of Britney.)
Since leaving my full-time, permanent job, I have taken more of a freelance approach to my career – embarking on fixed-term projects and ad-hoc work. Lord knows whether I'll be able to keep this up forever – or if I'll even want to – but for now, I'm really enjoying the flexibility, variety and independence that this style of working brings.
And of course, the biggie – going back to university and getting back into writing. If my career had continued as it was – comfortable and steady – I don't know when I would've taken that leap. Perhaps never.