Tag Archives: happiness

Who are we all, anyway?

5 Jul

Alaska, two gray wolves at the forests edge.

Yesterday was our company conference.

This means that my day started super early at a hotel in central London, making small talk and eating stupidly small croissants. We then had a whole day of “exploratory” exercises that were meant to help us decipher who we are as individuals, and as a business. The day was run by an external company. I (and most other people) took an instant dislike to the man running it. Ugh. He made my skin crawl. He was a fat man on a massive ego trip, and also a man incapable of referencing any success story (business or otherwise) that featured a woman. He also misquoted Steve Jobs. Repeatedly.

It has to be said – the feedback from most people was that the highlight of the day was a five-minute presentation I gave in the afternoon which compared our important marketing work to the work of Dr Cristina Yang in Grey’s Anatomy, and then went on to assign “animal spirits” that illustrate our company culture. In case you’re wondering, we are penguins, wolves and cats.

I’m just showing off, but the point is, the rest of the day felt simulated, manipulated and very, very inauthentic.

What was authentic, was sitting in a pub sixteen hours later, drinking wine and talking about life and love and – essentially – who we are with two of my colleagues. One, a man, married, in his early 50s, once divorced already. The other a girl, around my age, very recently married. And then me. Single as a hungry mole.

We were discussing our own love lives. I was telling them more about the pizza of doom. The guy was discussing his first marriage. The girl was talking about how different she and her husband are, and how that helps them to fit. It was deep, dude. And we were all agreeing that life and love take all kinds of different shapes, but none is less relevant than the rest. Nobody is less important because of their circumstances. What is important is that you’re happy.

In the past few weeks, I feel happy again. My heart feels glad. I’m sure you’ve noticed a change in my posts. I’ve certainly noticed a change in my ability to keep mascara on my face.

Now, this brings me back to the wolf animal spirit. You might be wondering what that was all about. Perhaps it sounds ferocious or brave. But, no, the wolves are a symbol of support. We have a fiercely supportive culture in my company. Just like a pack of wolves, in which everyone has a role. In a pack of wolves, there are hunters, protectors, there are even wolves who play the clown to keep everyone’s spirits up. They all do their thing well, and I’ll bet that their wolfy self-esteem is all hooked up in that. They don’t need to aspire to be anyone else because the other wolves value them for being exactly who they are. And that’s got to feel good. Everyone wants to be loved for being themselves, right?

Likewise, in my company we all have our own roles to play. Our niches. Whether we’re creative, or best at strategy, or building client relationships, or project management, we find what we’re good at and we do that. To the very best of our abilities.

Which is kind of how it is in life, right? Clearly, I have missed the boat on being one of those girls with the perfect love story. But that doesn’t mean I’m not perfect (imperfections and all) just the way I am.

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The ledge of recovery

26 Jun

When you go through something that tears you apart, you need other people to help put you back together. When you fall, you need other people to help pick you up. When you’re drowning, you need other people to grab you by the paw and pull you upwards.

I think in the (nearly) eleven long months since the pizza of doom, I have probably driven my friends a little bit crazy at times. I’ve definitely leant on them. I’ve learned who the real ones are, and I appreciate them more than ever.

Of course it feels good when you don’t see the point to anything and you can’t see the goodness in your life or your heart, but someone reassures you that it’s still there. It’s comforting to know that people love you and want you in their lives, even if your ex doesn’t. You need those people to help build your confidence back up.

But once your confidence is built back up, you teeter on the edge of recovery. It’s a ledge. It’s narrow, and feels uneasy and a little bit scary all at once. When you reach that ledge you have to make a decision: you have to decide whether you want to be happy. And, if you do, that means you’ve got to move on. You’ve got to jump.

It’s no longer up to your friends and family to tell you how great you are, you need to feel it for yourself. You need to stand up for yourself and realise that you’re good enough and that – yes – someone treated you badly, but f*** them. F*** everyone who patronises you or tells you what to do – especially those who have never even been in a similar situation. Because your real friends still see you for the person you are deep down inside. They’ll still be there to support. Should you stumble, they’ll help you up. More than anything, they want you to take that leap too.

I’ve had an interesting couple of weeks. I think I’ve spent the past two weeks on that ledge. And, as luck would have it, a few events came into my life that helped me make my decision. Last Friday a friend who was much less sober than I was started to tell me how I should turn my life around. She told me I should quit my job, work less hours, go travelling, rent out my flat. She told me this with force. In front of people. On a drunken Friday night (when I happened to be sober).

At the time, it knocked a little air out of me. I know this friend cares about me a lot. Goodness, if she thinks my life is rubbish then it must be. But then wait – no. No. No. And no again. My life is not rubbish. I have an amazing job. I’ve worked incredibly hard to get to where I am and I’ve done it at a younger age than most people in my industry. I own my flat (which I love) in one of the greatest cities in the world. I feel so at home in my crazy little neighbourhood of hipsters, Turkish, Caribbean, and proper East End people. I am proud of this silly blog. And I’m out all the time with friends. I have a good life. Yes, I’d like someone to share it with. I think it’s a shame that I don’t get to share it with anyone, but the reason I think that way is because I know that I am one of the most caring, kind cats around. (Not to mention smart and funny with great hair and amazing taste in clothes.) So, no, I have no interest in quitting the job I’ve worked for ten years to get. And I don’t need to turn my life around. I don’t need to run away: I just need to get on with it and hope that someone sees how good my life is and wants to be part of it.

I stood up for myself and my happiness for the first time in a long time. I felt defiant, and I liked that feeling.

Which is when it hit me like a meteor or something equally powerful and beautiful.

I can jump off this ledge. I can grasp for the future. And nobody else can do it for me.

I know there are people who’ve got my back. Some of them even here on WordPress, you lovely blogger cats. Some who’ve known me for years and knew who I was before this all happened. Some who only know me since the pizza of doom, but who are able to see the person I am underneath, which makes me feel worthwhile and valued. You know who you are. You know what it means to me.

I have all the support I need. Which means I can do this. By myself. For myself.

What I have

15 Jun

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OK, I’ve thought about it and decided the best way to deal with not knowing who I am anymore is to start with the good stuff. So here we go: ten things that I still really like about myself.

1. I like that I make what is probably the best aubergine parmigiana in the world. No, wait. Definitely the best. But it’s not just the parm itself I like, I like the fact that I only make it for people I love. Because it takes hours to make and stinks out my flat, it’s reserved for very, very special friends and family. I like that I show my love through food. It keeps me authentically Italian. Or at least part Italian.

2. I like that I’m not arrogant. Yes, yes, of course I’d like to be just a little more confident at times. And not doubt myself so damn much. But there’s no fear of me ever alienating people by being an arrogant twat. So, you know, yay me for that.

3. I like how much I love animals. I like that I’ve been helping to keep pandas alive by sponsoring them for the past five years. Not to mention the monkeys, penguins, leopards and tigers who I’ve also donated to. I like that I stop to say hi to cats and dogs who I meet in the street. I like that I can sit in the park for hours imagining the conversations that dogs are having with their owners.

4. I like that I laugh a lot. OK, so maybe the therapist and Irish Two reckon I come across as miserable, but I know I spend a lot of my day laughing. I know it only takes one look at this clip to set me off in hysterics. I know that before all this happened I used to regularly have trouble falling asleep at night because I was laughing so hard at things that had happened during the day. Life is funny.

5. I like that I can make fun of myself. That I know I’m a geek. That when someone leaves a date with me after only 40 minutes, pretending to be ill, I find it humorous enough to post on Facebook.

6. I like that I’m one of the most empathetic people I know. It’s probably because I’m such a bl**dy sensitive cat, so at least I do have the ability to channel that into helping others. And I like that I feel good when I do help others. I’m no saint. There’s nothing selfless about it: it makes me feel nice. But I’d rather that made me feel nice than kicking kittens or tossing hedgehogs at a wall. Or breaking people’s hearts.

7. I like that through everything that happened last year I never missed a day of my new job. I never thought about it at the time, but physically forcing myself out of bed and into the shower when I was lying, sleep-deprived, food-deprived, tortured by sadness, with tears streaming, is one of the bravest things I’ve ever had to do. There were days I considered giving up. I very nearly asked to take a month off to get my sh** together. Who knows, maybe I should have. But I chose to keep going. And I did keep going.

8. I like that I have learned appreciation. Some of my friends met the love of their life before they even turned 21. Some shortly after. And they are nearly all now married and making new people. I’m alone. As far as I’m concerned, life has spoilt them. When it happens for me, OK, if it happens for me, I’ll appreciate it so much more. If I ever find someone who actually likes me enough to want to spend their life with me, I’ll never take them for granted. Never. Ever.

9. I like how excited I get about stuff. I like that I start packing for holidays weeks in advance. I like that I count sleeps and make lists and daydream. I like that last time I went to Disney World (unfortunately the time that I broke up with the ex-before-the-ex), I was so excited I ran out of the hotel room without my flipflops on. My ex sometimes told me I got, “too excited” about things. What a f***ing c***.

10. I like my friends. My real-life friends. My blogger buddies. All of you. I like that I can pick up the phone to people around the world, or type out an email, and know there’s someone at the other end who cares and who’ll respond. And I like knowing that if all these wonderful, smart, funny, caring people value me as a friend, then I must be wonderful, smart, funny and caring too.

Maybe I don’t exactly come across as a ray of f***ing sunshine right now. But as a buddy put it earlier in the week, my beating heart was ripped out of my f***ing chest. I’m allowed to be sad sometimes.

I’ll get back to the person I thought I was. With a little more baggage. But a lot more wisdom. Eventually.

What do I have?

14 Jun

confused-cat

I had a couple of weird conversations this week that, frankly, knocked me for six. “Oh, don’t bother listening to people who make you feel bad!” I hear you cry.

And usually I’d agree. Except in this instance it was my therapist and Irish Two. My therapist is a professional. And she’s never been wrong before about stuff. Irish Two, well, I knew he wasn’t being an asshole. He was delivering some home truths.

I’ve always considered myself a bubbly, friendly, happy joy to be around. Turns out I don’t come across that way at all. I come across as “low energy” and “unhappy”. Or, “nice but sad” as Irish Two put it.

So I’m left wondering: was I always this way? I thought I was starting to feel more like myself. Was I ever a bubbly, friendly, happy joy to be around?

Ugh. I do not want to be a big old drain on everyone else’s happiness.

I lost my mind for a couple of days, emailing everyone I know asking what kind of person they think I am. I also had some email chat with a blogger buddy (you know who you are) who made me feel approximately ten thousand times better.

But when I wake up every morning I’m still feeling confused as to who I am and who I’m supposed to be and who I was before the pizza of doom. Through the whole mess of the past ten and a half months I never doubted that I’m a good, kind, fun, friendly person. If I don’t even have that, then what do I have?

Yes, what do I have?

It’s not an entirely rhetorical question. I’ll answer tomorrow.

Trying to find happiness

20 Apr

fc,220x200,baby_blue

I’m just back from a weekend in Edinburgh with friends and family, and I had a great time. My friend Sarah took me to a posh hotel for a cocktail tasting menu. I met a friend’s new baby. I hung out with my nephews. I ate a lot of chocolate. Good times all round.

When I’m in Edinburgh it’s always quite in-my-face, though, just how alone I am.

All my uni friends and my family have moved on to create lives for themselves complete with other halves and, now, babies too. The life I’ve created for myself mostly revolves around MTV and frozen yogurt. Which isn’t really the same. At all.

I had coffee with my friend Jennie this morning and was saying, as I so often say these days, it’s just hitting home that I might not meet someone and I’m going to have to deal with that.

It’s something I thought about on the train heading back to London. Which led to one of my all-too-regular-breaking-down-in-tears-without-even-realising-it incidents. Awkward.

All I have ever wanted is to meet someone who loves me, who I love back, and to have kids. It was my priority as a teenager looking ahead to an exciting future. It’s my priority as a thirty something looking back wondering where I went off in a different direction from my friends.

Doesn’t everyone deserve to have someone to spend their life with? I know I do. I’m such a nice person!

But I need to face it: it might not happen for me.

I may well be one of those women (and we all know a few of them) who it just doesn’t happen for. I’m not saying that all women need a relationship and kids to be fulfilled. But I do. I really do.

It dawned on me on the train that I have two choices. Either, I stay in this frame of mind – genuinely scared that I’m never going to meet someone, and so, so full of hope that I will. Or, I can make my peace with the fact that I just might not. That I might be on my own forever. That I might not ever have that special person who loves me the most. That I might not have kids.

I am really, really trying to get my head around this and feel good about it. It’s not enough to think, “I’ll be OK if I don’t meet someone.” That’s just surviving. I don’t want to go through life just surviving. I want to enjoy it. I want to think, “My life’s going to be f***ing fabulous, either way.”

So far, though, I just can’t get my head there. In fact, since I gave myself this ultimatum I haven’t stopped crying. I cannot make peace with the fact I might go through life alone. I can’t feel good about it. I can’t stand the thought of not having kids. I hate feeling like there must be something wrong with me and a reason why it just isn’t happening. And that I got so close, but wasn’t good enough.

I’m desperately trying to find happiness.

But I can’t.

Reasons to smile

2 Oct

For nearly nine weeks now I have woken up every morning and been hit with the pain. And the memories. Him. Him. Him. I hit ‘snooze’, try to focus on me me me, and think of reasons to be happy. Some mornings the inspiration has been somewhat lacking. In fact, many times the only thing I have been able to tell myself is, “You have really nice hair.”

This morning there were a few more glimmers of emotional sunshine than usual.

In fact, check this out:

1. Tomorrow night I am having dinner with some of my favourite ex colleagues (who are also lovely friends).

2. Some of my blogger buddies told me I should write a book. Awww. I love to write. I would love to write a book. My little broken heart soars.

3. I go on holiday in just under six weeks.

4. Rightly or wrongly (or just plain messed-uply), I am really enjoying Wedding Boy’s messages.

5. I think that, if I can get my act together, my new job is going to turn out to be great. There are interesting accounts. The people are all super nice. I just need to get my confidence back.

Count them! One, two, three, four, five reasons to be happy. Not bad at all.

Oh, and I have really nice hair.