Step One: Freak out

Even administrative superheroes have bad days. Today is a bad day. It’s not a Murphy’s Law day; it’s an Epiphany Day. And while I’m sure six months or years from now, I’ll look back with a wry smile and think ‘gee – that’s where this all started’, right now I’m in the first stage of my epiphany. Right now, I am freaking out. It’s a controlled state of panic but it’s spreading like a brush fire from my stomach to the tips of my fingers. It’s making me shake, just perceptibly, if my hands pause above the keyboard. As a coping measure, I have taken my shoes off under my desk – which, unfortunately, anyone can see from about 30 metres through a double story plate glass window-door. I have made myself a cup of tea and eaten my lunch at 10.30am. I am taking deep breathes. With deep breathes and sips of tea, some form of clarity is reached. I wonder now if epiphany is the right word. If I’m honest, I’ve seen this coming; based on previous history, I’ve known this day would come. The signs over the past few months have all pointed to it but I’ve been blithely ignoring them. Like an ostrich.

It’s time for me to move on. Take a risk. Leap.

It’s time for me to stop hiding in the shadows of fear. It’s time to stop settling.

I’ve worked it out (but beware, maths was never my strongest subject):

During an average 5-day week (not an uber stressful, all hands on deck extra hours required week), I spend

35hrs sleeping (7 hrs a night)
52.5 hours at work (including 1.5hr commute each day and accounting for the fact that I don’t take a lunch break)
1 hour a week showering (about 12 minutes each day – this of course is ‘shower and get ready’ and slap a dash of makeup on – although sometimes I apply this in transit at stop lights)
5 hrs ‘waking up’ (actually waking up, making breakfast/washing dishes [we alternate the prep and cleanup], eating breakfast, ironing my husband’s daily shirt, feeding the dog and reading NYT online to feel mildly attached to global issues)
5 hrs cooking dinner and cleaning up the cooking mess
2.5 hrs walking the dog
3 hrs miscellaneous exercise (this should mean going to the gym; I account for it in my calculations despite my routine not settling since moving house 6 weeks ago – the best intentions…)

This leaves me with 16 hrs of awake time a week to account for all other domestic duties (including actually eating dinner). Here, I must be honest, I do not use my time wisely. Since moving, I’ve spent some time in the garden, destroying things (which is productive) but mostly I watch TV. I only watch it at night, usually while eating dinner, then while drinking an after dinner cup of tea before bed. Sometimes, if I have one, I will read a book instead but not usually. I’m not particularly enamoured with any particular television programme but more the act of switching off that watching TV allows. For a few hours each night, my brain doesn’t whizz through the ever accumulating lists of to-dos and to-thinkabouts and to-plans. I am to TV as an ostrich is to sand. And usually, I’m ‘too tired’ to pull my head out.

I had dreams, I had goals, I had plans – all of which seem to have been sucked into the vortex of a life in which I am extremely busy accomplishing nothing. As usual, I am being a bit dramatic – I have succeeded in several notable areas, including owning my own home and establishing strong relationships with my husband and our respective family and friends; two achievements not to be scoffed at and yet…

I have allowed myself to wallow in a job that I enjoy but uses only 5% of my brain power, on a generous day. Also, based on my (already questionable) maths, I work 20% more hours each week than I am contracted to work (which I’ve accounted for in an hourly rate I’d rather keep private, thank you), plus work a few unaccounted for hours on weekends answering emails from my iPhone (totally my own fault, yet anticipated now).

Theoretically, I am supposed to be completing two postgraduate programmes but in reality one is on indefinite hold while the other I am barely invested in enough to pass.

Am I over, under or uncommitted?

I’m playing it safe and loathe myself for it. Time to pull the handbrake on this downward spiral into mediocrity. I’m better than this; I have more brain power and I have a responsibility to use it – to myself and to others. (Sounds vaguely like a nerdy superhero tagline.)

I don’t know exactly what I want to do but I know it isn’t what I am doing; ambiguity is ok. Ambiguity means open doors and open windows; it means I can be a giraffe or a hippo or a llama instead of an ostrich. Ambiguity doesn’t mean directionless, it means opportunity.

And, if my calculations are correct, I can work half the hours and nett more money doing something I am inspired by…and have a few more awake hours to do all those other things I’ve dreamt of doing, like writing a children’s book, finishing my Master’s and learning how to not kill things in my garden.

Next step….contemplate*

*There are a few steps to my self-realisation process:
Freak out
Contemplate
Brainstorm
Plan
Act

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