As I’m sitting here making notes about blogs and thinking about book ideas my mind suddenly wandered to thinking about all the jobs and passions I’ve had as I now embark on yet another very different route. It brought back a memory of me once sitting in a pub and a friend’s boyfriend telling me that I didn’t ‘know myself’. I can’t remember the ins and outs of the conversation, but I do remember looking at him puzzled. I thought, here’s somebody who hardly knows me, who hasn’t taken the time to find anything out about my past or my childhood dreams, yet he thought he was ‘qualified’ to make this statement. So I wondered, what is it he sees in me that made him think that. It turned out it was because he had heard that I had always wanted to work with animals but was now working in retail, so he felt I had gone off my chosen path and needed to ‘find myself’ again. But how can you ‘know yourself’ when yourself is constantly changing? What if you are just one of those people who like lots of different subjects, activities and have many passions? Does this not just mean you are very interesting or a good all-rounder? And does it allow for others to judge and comment?
I started in the world of working where my passion was ̶ in animal care, after I found that college was not for me. I had always wanted to be a Vet, but I was told I was not clever enough by a careers advisor (so eloquently put!) So I started at a kennels and chose to do an NVQ on the job. This led me to landing a role as a Trainee Vet Nurse. I enjoyed it, but found myself to be much better at the practical stuff than the academic bit, yet I worked hard at it. It was in this job that my life changed. At 21 years of age I lost my Mum to Cancer. After years of battling the illness it spread and she couldn’t fight it. I took time off work but it turned out that they really didn’t have that much sympathy and were demanding I returned after 3 weeks leave and to ‘stop taking the piss!’ I’m not sure if this was the moment I fell out of love with animal care, but I have never returned to this line of work.
My priorities had changed and I needed to make money, support my sister and keep a roof over our heads. I turned to retail as at the time it seemed like an easy option, I was so surprised at how I adapted to this type of job and the passion I developed for it. It kept me busy, I could progress up the ladder, I could learn, train people and never get bored. The other Managers were very much like me ̶ they had lots of other interests, some had come from other careers and none were judgemental. Was this the moment I ‘knew myself’? I don’t believe so. I think this was a career that was right at the time and was what I needed after a difficult time but for some reason I personally still needed more challenges. Maybe it was because I had grown more as a person and built confidence so became ready to move on.
After 8 years I left the shoe retailer and went into a visuals and selling job for a well-known toilet roll and tissue brand. I had to learn new skills, learn to work alone and be on the road. I soon found that being alone was not for me, so off I went to try something else.
I ended up back at school… as a teaching assistant, but unfortunately it was really like being ‘back at school’. The children were fab, I loved guiding them, helping them and inspiring them. I hated trying to ‘fit in’ with my colleagues. I was very different ̶ I had a different background, I had a different approach and I had too many ideas that didn’t want to be heard. They didn’t quite ‘get me’.
I left to have my son and have not returned to work. Somewhere in the time being off I decided to start writing. Again, another different career and idea but it’s something that has always been a passion. Does all this mean I don’t know myself? I don’t think so, I think it means I have so many areas in my life I enjoy and I feel a need to explore them all. I love music and I play instruments and sing ̶ yet I don’t stick to just one genre, to me there is a whole world of music to be enjoyed. I still love animals and have always had pets and I think I always will. I love exercise and am open to trying all sorts of different types ̶ I currently do Zumba and body combat, Salsa, run and am learning flexibility from my very talented sister (she teaches aerial hoop and I quite fancy giving that a go one day too!) I used to hate gardening as a kid, now I absolutely love it and even have books about it. Cooking is not for me, but since having a child I have learnt to bake cakes and am now trying to master a better decoration design each time. I am up for giving anything a go and enjoy exploring new ventures, this is just my personality and it makes life much more interesting.
Don’t get me wrong, I respect those who choose a career for life. My husband has studied and worked hard to get to where he is and I admire him so much. Maybe if I had become a Vet I may still be doing that, or what if my Mum hadn’t died? Maybe I would have gone off and travelled the world? Who knows. Then who would I be then?!
So to the person who told me at 22 that I didn’t ‘know myself’ I wonder what you now make of all I have done and achieved, and I also wonder how much you have done in your life? It may seem as though I have chopped and changed, but events have occurred and have caused my life to also chop and change. Plus, who says a job makes who you are, I hope I am so much more than that.
I say bring on the new changes. Maybe we all need to stop questioning who we are and be happy with the decisions we make and where they take us. I think we may know ourselves for a period of time but then we try something new and we learn to know ourselves all over again. One thing I always stick by is to be true to yourself and follow your instincts!
So, do I know myself? At this very moment… yes!