This morning, after managing to avoid most of social media, I sat down with my laptop on my knee, half-heartedly tapping away while I watched the Great British Bake Off final.
I tend to be a bit emotional about these things anyway, so between Mary Berry choking up and Nadiya saying the following words, I was a mass of snot, tears, and shaking shoulders.
CREDIT: BBC One Facebook
I’m not the only one that this speech hit a chord with, my social media timelines are flooded with similar images and quotes from last night. Comments on my own post reiterate the feelings that the speech was heartfelt, emotional, inspirational and genuine.
Ironically I was speaking to my friend yesterday morning about self-confidence, and how I have spent so much of my time not believing in myself, or worrying about looking like a dick. It stemmed from a conversation about how I always try to lead (parent) by example, and how if I want the children to believe in themselves I kinda have to do the same.
So of course, I put that conversation to one side, as I wrote my acknowledgements for Mothers Ruined and sent it to my publisher saying “do I look like a div?” I put it to one side when I got up this morning and started writing. Except I wasn’t writing, I was re-reading what I’d written and thinking “this is all shit.” Which is how I suddenly ended up on the sofa watching Nadiya work her arse off, instead of working my arse off towards today’s word count deadline.
Her words have settled in my mind ever since, just as they appear to have settled with others of a similar nature.
Why do we allow ourselves to get in the way of achieving what we so desperately want. Why do we allow our fear of it not working out, to put us off? As a mother I certainly wouldn’t allow it to put the kids off, as I regularly chant about safe places to make mistakes, if at first you don’t succeed try again, we learn from our mistakes. Why do we not always follow our own advice? Who blooming knows, but perhaps it’s time to start taking somebody else’s proven advice.
So when I have to take the next step towards something that fills me with self doubt, will I put Nadiya’s speech to one side like I did the conversation with my friend? Or will I get my head down and realise that I have to get my arse in gear and say I can do this and I will do this.
I better bloody follow Nadiya’s lead, because I will also be printing these words out and stick them above my computer and in my laptop case.
‘I’m never going to put boundaries on myself ever again. I’m never going to say I can do it. I’m never going to say “maybe”. I’m never going to say “I don’t think I can”. I can and I will.’
I can’t believe it’s nearly New Year. I’m not sure how it’s happened; it doesn’t feel five minutes since I wrote this post with a full years worth of resolutions.
It’s been a whirlwind, it’s been fun, it’s been amazing, and it’s been tough. I have no idea where to start when it comes to reflecting. My fingers have been poised over my keyboard for weeks, wanting to tell you about first nativity plays, about the pressure of playing Santa for the first meaningful time (TWO WEEKS BEFORE CHRISTMAS HE WANTS SPIDERMAN BOOTS AND GLOVES?! Thank god for a friend living in America), about how I was going to be cooking for 11 people.
I was going to tell you about how I’m going to cut back on blogging, not for any other reason other then something’s got to give. I wanted to tell you about how my husband had laser eye surgery and how excited I am about it changing his life, about how next year I am so going to have a puppy and call her Coco, and how actually I’m pretty happy with my lot. However. None of it seems necessary now. The time has passed in a blur of festivities, presents, food and wine. Oh and Port. Everyone is starting to look forward to next year, and so am I. But first, I need to tie up a few loose ends by means of checking out my initial 2012 resolutions….
“I want to spend more time with my children” I foolishly said. And I have. Some days I genuinely wonder what I was thinking. There have been times when Matthew received a 2pm text message saying “Are you nearly home yet”. I was going to “Cut back on Marketing. And I have. Admittedly at the end of the day Marketing pays the bills, so I can’t give up on it totally, but I think finally, in about June/July I found a good balance.
I posted that my family was complete. That’s such a hard one to write. It is. I know this really, but with everyone shooting out (ha) scrummy babies, and some beautiful bump photos popping up on my instagram feed, I do have my wobbles. I don’t have any babies anymore. As I promised Fatty is now upstairs in his big boy room, he’s walking, talking and throwing the mother of all tantrums. He’s learnt to say “yes please” and “NOOOO” (that one is too often). And The Beast has started school. The relief of him settling in well was amazing, but it would have been more amazing if the school day were slightly longer. Just saying, how is one meant to get ANYTHING done?! We’ve still got the cat (anyone want a cat?) and we have a goldfish.
In March, after a midlife crisis haircut in February I turned 30. I came to terms with the majority of it quite quickly, although perhaps not the best year for a career change. Having two small children, no sleep and starting at the bottom of a totally new career ladder took its toll, the feeling of being “nothing” after being “something”. I may have cried at the first card with the big three-oh on it, but then, I got a gorg watch and a few nights in the sun away from the kids, so it’s not all bad eh?
I then set a few more traditional resolutions for myself and the family.
1. I will keep up with my running
Well I did. Until May. In April I ran the Lincoln 10kand it was amazing. But then I got out of the habit, and you know what I’m like, I hate having to start from scratch. Then I got bogged down with life and now I look at running whistfully, every now and then stroking my trainers and glancing at my running jacket wondering if it will even zip up anymore.
2. I will not lie awake worrying about anything and everything
3. I will not turn 30
4. I will not scratch my car
YESSSS!!! AUDREY HAS LASTED NEARLY AN ENTIRE YEAR WITH NO SCRATCHES!
5. I will not break my children.
With the exception of Fatty having to go to A&E, physically we’ve done ok…it’s emotionally we’ll have to wait and see.
1. My husband will learn to put his breakfast pots in the dishwasher
2. Will learn to remove the children’s vests from their tops so that they aren’t all dyed a skanky grey/blue
3. Will learn to have a perspective in time (e.g. not suggest to people we will see them in half an hour, when we are all in PJs, at the breakfast table and the destination is 20 minutes away).
4. Will not teach the children to comment on peoples boobs.
5. Will buy me a new car every time I scratch mine.
1. Will not insist on watching me on the toilet
Fail. In fact, now with his digital camera it’s even more intrusive.
4. Will get scouted by a big sports person and be signed for some sort of sport (he wants Football, I’d rather F1 please)
5. Will learn to say the letter “S” properly.
1. Will lose weight
Well. He’s heavier, but he’s definitely slimmed out a tad…
2. Will let Mummy sleep through the night
SHHH let’s not jinx this eh?
3. Will stop laughing and continuing on with whatever he’s just been told off for by Mummy
Yes. Now he just says “Nooooo”.
4. Will stop shooting pooh up his back/down his leg at least once a week
5. Will grow some more hair.
YES! With Curls!
Either I tried harder, or perhaps mine were more realistic.
I have to say though, the biggest thing I’ve achieved over the last year is to quite like myself and how to give myself a break. I think it came with ditching the frienemies and actually I’ve got some pretty darn good friends now. You know who you are. They’re honest with me, they compliment me, they take the piss out of me. They laugh at me when I stress about spending 20 minutes lining my kitchen counters up so my bread bins look PERFECT and most importantly, we’re there for each other. I now have a new found confidence as I begin to believe what they say. Leaving a career that made me question myself on an hourly basis was another huge change, I’m no longer worrying that people are setting me up for a fall, that they’re using me as a scape goat, and as I progress with my writing, especially my novel, I’m believing in myself for once.
I’m not pretending I don’t still look in the mirror and have a strop some times, that I beat myself up for not being perfect straight away. I’m not saying I don’t have tantrums when I spot a muffin top, or a saggy bit of skin hanging over my vest top (nice image), but I manage to shrug it off with a smile, and I often forget about it too!
Goodbye 2012, you’ve been “special” here’s to 2013 – the year I achieve my resolutions (which I’ll post NEXT YEAR).
Has 2012 been good to you? Did you achieve all you wanted? What are your plans for next year?
This statement should cause gasps from the audience (of my friends), and confusion from normal people. You see. By now I should be dressed, full face of make up and be rushing at 100 miles an hour.
It’s been around 3 months since I started on Operation Feel Good. How is it going? On the whole, OK actually. I’m not going to pretend I’ve been perfect, I’ve had some major tumbles off the wagon. The holiday was a prime example, we ate a lot of bread and crisps and drank a lot of Sangria (red wine, gin, rose, cava), plus when I get hormonal I have to write a whole week off to carbs and bad moods.
However, I have had the chance to sit back and reflect a lot more. I think a lot of my mood is down to what I put in my body, I feel the difference after certain meals, good and bad. I’m not talking about intolerance or allergies, more how certain ingredients are meant to impact how you feel and/or your immune system. YES I KNOW it does sound a bit boo-hawkey but since I discovered Gurpareet Bains, I’m beginning to see where he’s coming from. We don’t eat his food every night (er, PIZZA), but it is a big part of our weekly menu.
But, on reflection, I don’t actually think this is the main reason for my current state of mind being relaxed and happy. I think it’s taking a step back from things.
You see. I’m a perfectionist. Having interviewed quite a few people this comes up during most “Oh I’m a perfectionist” they say with pride. As if it’s a good thing. Maybe, if you’re a perfectionist reading this now, you think it is. However, I see it as the worst possible thing to be right now.
I’m my own worst critic. Nothing I do in my eyes is satisfactory. Whether it’s work (that document still needs tweaking TWENTY MILLION HOURS LATER), gardening (I swear I can still see a minuscule weed), parenting (oh my god, there’s a streak of snot on his cheek!), looks (do I look tired, is my mascara ok?, look at my fat arms, are my friends laughing at how old I look) I beat myself up about it. I always have – right from an early age, I still get a sick feeling in my stomach from when I was four and stood in the wrong practice fire drill at school. HORRIFIED.
I don’t think it really came into fruition until I came to be a marketeer. I’ve realised that when I started working my way up the ladder I became more and more highly strung, beat myself up more and more about stuff, amazed that decidedly below average people were doing ok, sometimes better then ok. HOW can that many mistakes be ok? HOW can they present that presentation with a box of content overlapping the logo, it used to cause palpitations. It’s why I’m shit at working part time – I can never let go.
Then I gave it up. And for a year I’ve not really been entirely convinced about myself. I’ve felt a bit on edge, still waking up frequently at night with that sick feeling in my stomach. A lot more relaxed then before, and confident I made the right decision, but there’s been something playing on my mind. The need to achieve is obviously built into me, but I was attempting to achieve at something I’ve only just started, attempting to be at the same level that it took nearly 12 years for me to build up to, within a matter of months.
Last week I had an epiphany. I was gardening. I’d taken a week off to potter about the house, enjoy The Beast’s birthday and generally relax a bit. I realised how much I missed weeding, and I realised that I’d been losing myself in trying to be something, foregoing health and happiness because I’m trying to achieve so many things. I counted I was trying to fit 6 different objectives into 3 days. These 6 objectives are probably actually considered to be either part (as in 50/50 split, or even full time). NO WONDER I was knackered. NO WONDER I struggled to climb the stairs at the end of the day, NO WONDER I was worrying.
So I’ve cut it all back. I have two main objectives. We wont discuss them, they’re not that important to you, just to me. But oh my god, do I feel better. I have a third underlying mantra which I need to work at. IT DOESN’T MATTER IF IT’S NOT PERFECT. I don’t have to become defeatist if something doesn’t fit my standards, I have to accept that actually it’s fine.
So here I am. Sitting here in MIS-MATCHED PJs, with my hair spiked up, and I’m posting this blog. I’m not even going to put a header image on it or check it for typos (although I’m even hyperventilating at typing that line). I can’t pretend it’s going to be an overnight change, or if it will be a full on change and I will become slovenly and wander around in grey oversized tracksuit bottoms stained with snot, milk and something brown that I don’t want to think about…but with the help of a few of my friends, I’m learning to laugh at my slightly over the top worries (are the spidermen I’ve printed off for T’s birthday party too pale being one of them).
I don’t want to be perfect any more, and that feels great to know that…let’s hope I can sustain it.