A little update

I know I probably say it every year, but how is it September already? When did this crazy year got so far? In March it seemed it will never end and here we are.

I never thought so much would happen this year. We sold our house, we bought a new one just as Covid-19 hit us, we moved to Germany and then back to the Netherlands to our new home. Everything while figuring out our lives as we both changed directions and started new career paths.

Craziness all around and still I love this year. I know it’s an unpopular opinion and I should be complaining how hard it all is, but I’ve learned so much. About myself and about the world.

I know exactly what I want from life and even though I’m not sure how I’ll get there, I know I will. I can work tirelessly on things I want and that’s what I’m planning to do. Work my ass off until I’ll get there.

I’ll be trying things, I’ll be failing and falling, but then I’ll be getting up to try again, and again. That’s the only way I know.

When the time is slowing down

Yesterday I wrote on my Instagram that we’ve entered the last week of staying in Germany, in our temporary home. I was hoping that I will blink and we’ll be on the other side of this. The time seems to slow down, the days feel like they’re made of syrup. Is it always like that when we can’t wait for something to happen?

Maybe that’s the whole secret of time passing by slower when we are kids. As children we always want something to happen. We wait impatiently for our holidays to start, we want to see our friends, and maybe the most important of all we want to be adult, to be free and do what we want.

Maybe the key to slow the time is to want something. To be waiting for the things we want. To be in this children like state of “I can’t wait to be adult finally.” Maybe that’s the magic spell.

I’m waiting impatiently for Wednesday to come. To be home again.

Thoughts on acceptance

In her last newsletter Helen Redfern shared this article about Instagram and as I’m struggling lately with the little app, it resulted in some thoughts. Because the mean people and feeling inadequate is one side of the story for me, but the other is something I was never good at – belonging to a group.

In the last few weeks, when the Black Lives Matter movement got stronger on Instagram you were easily judged if you didn’t take a public stand on it. It was like being in high school again indeed. You’re doing what we think you should be doing or you don’t belong with us.

But see, not everyone works through big things publicly. Some of us need time to think things through, others are doing amazing work somewhere unseen. And that doesn’t mean that we don’t support Black Lives Matter or any other cause or that we’re racists. We just do things differently from you.

I have to admit that I had a problem with big accounts announcing that they will now be quiet for a week and watch and learn. Because this is the privilege we are talking about for so long now. The possibility to sit and watch, the expectation that the people fighting the fight will show how it’s done and educate us on the matter. And then having an opinion about others not educating themselves publicly, on Instagram.

I wish we were all more inclusive. That we accepted that everyone is different and has different needs and ways of dealing with stuff. It’s not a contest, there is no one way to do this. Why can’t we accept that?

Anyway, what I was trying to say is that Instagram feels lately like you can only belong there if you do things a certain way. And if you don’t, you’re that weird kid that’s sitting alone on a lunch break.

A little morning adventure

We shut ourselves out of the house today or, I should say, I shut us out of the house today. The chickens came into our part of the garden and the guinea fowls went onto the road so we ran outside to get them back to the main garden. I pulled the door close behind me without thinking. And there we were, standing outside in a chilly, after the storm, air.

Our hosts were not home, of course, because you never do this kind of thing when someone can easily save you, right? We knocked on the neighbours door, but they didn’t have the mobile numbers of our hosts. And just when we were walking back a car stopped nearby and I thought that maybe we could ask the guy if he knew the owners.

He did! It turned out he came to walk their dog. I couldn’t believe our luck. He called the owners, got us the spare key and we could get on with our day.

We knew it would happen one day. I mean, when you have a door you can’t open without the key from the outside, you are bound to go into the garden one day and shut the door behind you. It’s just how it works.

I told the chickens and guinea fowls off for being reckless and I hoped they’ve learned their lesson. I know I did.

There is just one way

I was blocked and I disappeared from my blog. At first I thought that it was just a simple pandemic block, caused by the uncertainty of it all. Now I know it was just a coincidence. I was blocked because I kept looking for the right way to do things. The right way to write, the right way to be on Instagram, the right way to advertise my coaching services. The right way to be me. Why were I looking outside of myself is a mystery to me.

Today I realised that trying to apply someone else’s strategies and abandoning my own intuitive way of doing things, was what blocked me. It took all the pleasure out of working, being on social media, of being present in the world.

Everything I did felt laborious, forced, coming from a place I didn’t recognise. And slowly, but surely, it started to feel uncomfortable and I moved away from it completely.

I can’t adopt strategies of others and make them my own. It feels like being in a play, like pretending to be someone else, someone who’s definitely not me.

There is no right way to do things. Even though there are hundreds of people telling us otherwise. If you try to follow all their advices, you’ll end up doing things that exclude each other.

I knew that, but I still fell in that trap. I fell for the people who seemed to know it all, to know it better. And I kept looking for the right way.

Now it’s time to stop looking and get back in my own skin. Listen to my intuition. Do the things my way. Figure it all out by myself.

Yes, it may take me longer to get where I want to be than it would if I followed the herd. But at least I’ll be able to be myself every step of the way.

There is just one way. My way.

Frustration is a gift

Only looking back did I see what pushed me to make the biggest changes. When in 2010 I stopped flying and went to university, when I quit my job in aviation two years later, when in 2015 I started postgraduate in creative writing, when in 2018 I finally did my coaching training, when I went to therapy, all those moments were caused by frustration. Frustration and unhappiness with the current situation.

I don’t like complaining, sitting on my ass and whining about how bad it is. I don’t accept it by in myself or in others. If I don’t like it, I have to do something about it. Take responsibility for my life and look for ways to solve the problem. I always have two options. I can try to improve my situation by changing my attitude or talking to someone who also has an influence on it or change my situation by looking for new opportunities.

I usually go through both options. First, I try to fix it and when it can’t be done (and I admit that it never could till now), I change it. I start looking for new options, because I want to live a good life, align with myself and my values.

Frustration is a gift, it’s a sign that it’s time to look at ourselves and what is happening around us. Frustration leads to change if we listen to it. It allows us to avoid burnout, sends us signals, indicates painful places.

I always listen to it. It is my guide in creating a good life. It allows me not to lose sight of what is important to me. Thanks to it, I move away from situations that block me, that keep me in a place that is not good for me. It is thanks to frustration that I change my life, that I keep feeling better.

When imposter syndrome takes over

The imposter syndrome is as old as I am. Psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes gave it a name in 1978, my birth year. It’s a psychological pattern in which people doubt their achievements and have a fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. People with imposter syndrome are not able to to believe that their success is deserved or has been achieved as a result of their skills. They often attribute their success to luck or being able to fool others to believe that they more capable than they really are. They keep thinking that they’re not knowledgable, talented or skilled enough in their area of expertise. Even when they’re successful.

There are two types of imposter syndrome people: high achievers and procrastinators. High achievers will constantly look for new challenges and over prepare to prove that they are good in what they do. Procrastinators will keep putting off the work, because of fear if being discovered as fraud the moment they do it.

I’m the second type and it’s so frustrating that I’m done with it. It’s keeping me from realising my dreams, form putting myself out there, form doing the work I actually want to do.

I asked myself lately what I’m more afraid of: being found out as a fraud (which I know I’m not, that’s the silly part of imposter syndrome) or being forced to go back to work full-time? And you know what? Going back to work is much more scary. After my last job and the treatment I’ve got there I actually get an anxiety attack when I think about getting a job.

That’s why I need to face the beast and listen to the other voice in my head that tells me that I know what I’m doing. And if I don’t know something, I can learn that. I know that failure will not kill me, so what I’m afraid of? Some thoughts that are not even true?

Hilary Clinton said once that it’s better to try and fail than not try at all. Samuel Beckett wrote: “Ever tried, ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” I’m ready to fail, and then to try again, and again, and again. I’m ready for a lifetime of failures. They mean only one thing, that I’m trying.

On comparison

I used to compare a lot. To friends, co-workers, later to people on the internet. That’s not so strange in my case, because I was compared a lot as a child, to my older sister or other kids at school. I kind of never knew that you don’t have to compare to other to see if you’re good enough.

At some point I stopped, but I don’t know when it happened exactly. Sure I still compare sometimes, but it’s less general, less random. It’s more focused on one particular topic I feel I’m not achieving enough in.

The comparison comes up particularly in the times of uncertainty. Like when I moved to another country to be with the guy I’ve met six month before (He’s my husband now and we’re very happy by the way.), where I was allowed to settle, but wasn’t allowed to work. Or when starting my own business in the crowded coaching world and loosing my day job at the same time.

The difference between now and then is that I know not to get into the downward spiral of comparing to other successful people and how to talk (or write) myself out of it.

A couple of months ago I picked up a copy of Lucy Sheridan’s book The Comparison Cure, because I thought I needed it, but it actually made me realise that the comparison is not such a big problem for me any more. It was a great feeling to see that it changed for me. That I’m able to recognise those moments and work through them.

I’ve learned so much in the last couple of years. I’ve learned to trust my vision and when I compare to others to connect to it and recognise what’s important to me.

I’ve learned that we all are in our own time zone (Lucy, again) and use it when I get the inclination to compare to other people on the internet. We wouldn’t compare our dinner in Europe to someone’s breakfast in Australia. Wouldn’t we? I’ve learned to focus on my own goals and my own work that I need to do, instead of looking at others and where they are.

I’ve learned to identify what’s good for me. I understand that other people’s lives or ways of doing things are not necessarily good for me. I’ve learned to put my head down and do the work. To stay in my lane and stop looking for the magic formula. I’ve learned that there’s no one way to do things. That we all need to figure our own path.

It’s a work in progress and it never ends. But knowing that there’s place for us all and there’s a time zone for us all, makes it a little bit easier.

If you’re struggling with comparison I recommend Lucy Sheridan’s The Comparison Cure. Lucy is one of the reasons why I am where I am.