I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting recently. I think the sudden introspection has, in part, been brought on by my new commute; spending 2-3 hours a day in your car leaves a lot of time for your brain to whirr around like a washing machine, churning thoughts around and generally mulling things over. I’d started to get frustrated with the ‘wasted time’ I spend getting to and from work – it makes me feel really powerless to be sitting in a tin box for so long every day, when every day my to-do list gets a bit longer. They need to hurry up and invent robot cars with wifi so I can do my blogging and e-mailing and all my other life admin on the journey to work!
In an effort to maximise my commute, I decided to start listening to podcasts on the way to work to provide a bit of inspiration, and learn something new. I love the TEDTalks podcasts in particular – they have so many speakers that really make you think and look at life differently. This week I also downloaded some of the Gabrielle Bernstein podcasts – her keynote speeches and lectures really are so inspiring. My only problem is that I get really excited and fired up listening to them – I think I need a little dictaphone to make audio notes of the bits I want to remember! (Plus I’d feel like Special Agent Dale Cooper in Twin Peaks then, which would be a huge bonus.)
img credit: bourbonandgoose
I’ve also been reading Gabrielle Bernstein’s book ‘Spirit Junkie‘ and a lot of what she says really resonates with me. She talks about living authentically, listening to your ‘inner guide’ and finding your true purpose. In the keynote speeches I’ve listened to she has some amazing advice for young women regarding leadership and entrepreneurship – I wonder, when listening to it, what I would have gone on to do if I’d been in those lecture halls upon graduating college or university and hearing her speak. It’d be difficult not to want to walk out and make things happen.
Through the TEDTalks podcasts I found Brené Brown. Brené Brown is a researcher and lecturer on the topic of vulnerability and shame, and the podcast I listened to (I then went on to listen to her TED talk – which has had 17 million views!) Brené teaches that to be creative and live wholeheartedly you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable – to take risks, be imperfect and let go of what people think. I love the way she talks – she talks about ‘getting in the arena’ and ‘getting your ass kicked’. The one thing she said that really resonated with me was that most people wait until they’ve had the right training, prepared themselves, got the right weaponry etc, to ‘go into the arena’ – and if you wait, then you never will. She encourages people to stop worrying about what others will think, or worrying about getting hurt or looking stupid, and to go out there and take risks. (I’ve just bought her book Daring Greatly and I’m so excited to read it, it’s definitely a philosophy I can get on board with!).
On Thursday I then moved on to listen to some Podcasts from the Good Life Project (could you get a cooler sounding podcast series?) I downloaded an interview with a lady called Erin Moon on ‘Walking the path back to life’ which was just so powerful and moving that I couldn’t possibly do it justice by describing it, but I would definitely encourage people to give it a listen.
After all of these inspiring and thought-provoking podcasts it really got me thinking about living authentically and not missing out on opportunities because of fear. Ten years ago I had big dreams of moving to London and working in Press and PR. I also wanted to travel – to experience living in another country and explore the world as much as possible. My final dissertation at University was a short novel and I had dreams of either getting it published or working on a full length novel. I wrote a lot of poetry, learned to play guitar (badly) and tried to invest as much time as possible in creative ventures.
Life is a journey and my journey has led, several years later, to me to working in HR and living in Dorset with my fiancé Tom and Bodhi dog. HR may not be the career I’ve always dreamed of, but I care about the organisation I work for, I have good friends at work and I’m able to work on things I’m interested in. Have I taken risks to get where I am? Probably not. Do I regularly ‘go into the arena’? Not if I can help it.
Which leads me to wonder what ‘living authentically’ would mean for me. What is my true path? One of the thoughts that comes back to me again and again when I think about where I’d like to take my life is, “What if it’s too late?” I read so many stories of people who achieve great things in their 20s and then sit back in their 30s knowing that they’ve ticked off some major life goals and are on the right path, As well as this, I’ve probably fallen foul of ‘leaning out’ as Sheryl Sandberg calls it – as a woman of 30 who gets married in a few months I’m definitely thinking about my domestic life path – we’re spending a month in Bali for our honeymoon (and I’m lucky enough to work somewhere that allows that) – and who knows whether we’ll be lucky enough to start a family in the years following getting married – so it doesn’t exactly feel like the right time to be making any major changes to my career. (Which is a trap that Sheryl Sandberg says many young women fall into – consciously or unconsciously withdrawing from the workplace because of the idea that you might need maternity leave at some point in the future). These are all big questions marks and not decisions made, but you do sometimes feel like your life starts to get a little ‘planned out’ when you reach your late-20s and 30s, don’t you?
I’m not sure where I’m really going with this post – I just don’t know right now what to do with all of the creativity and inspiration I feel; even if I were ready to ‘go into the arena’, what should I be fighting for? What if you don’t know what the ‘big dream’ is that you’re supposed to fight for? And, are you supposed to have things a bit more figured out by the time you’re 30?