I didn’t know what I wanted to write about today. I just thought I’d start and see what came out. Sitting in a cafe in Oaxaca (I’m testing out nomad work life), rain pouring down and debating how long I’m going to be stuck here or if I just accept my fate of getting soaked on the way home. As I started writing, I realised it’s been almost a year since I wrote ‘that’ article. I felt as if I owed you all an update.
It dawned on me earlier, when accosted by a fellow soul searcher, just how far I’ve come in the last few years. The lady who accosted me, ok that’s probably an unfair adjective, she complimented me on my dress and then we started talking, seemed to have a very similar life story to me. God, how British of me, someone pays me a compliment and I go around saying they accosted me. Brutal. Anyway, she was a high achieving investment banker with a deep desire for something else, a desire to experience the fullness and the depth of life that she knew was out there but couldn’t quite reach.
It’s weird how the universe does things like this; there I was doing some work to better define my niche and bam… there it is, right in front of me, complimenting me on my dress.
Whilst we talked, I recognised how far removed I now am from the person I was a couple of years ago, even the person I was last year if I’m totally honest. I recognised some of the ways I used to feel and think in this lady, the same deep desire for something else but not really knowing what it was or where to go to find it. A despair at the linearity of life and the one size fits all approach to living which is prolific in big cities. A knowing that there was something else she should be doing, but not clear of the road map. The sense that by moving out of the ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ and into the ‘coulds’ and ‘wants’ that somehow she might lose herself, lose her identity, her sense of self, her well constructed persona and if she wasn’t doing the one size fits all, what was she doing?
I saw myself in her, I saw a lot of people I know in her, and I recognised just how awful that space can sometimes feel. How claustrophobic it can feel. How desperate it can feel. And the worst thing of all, how utterly privileged it can feel. Who are we to have these existential angsts? Who are we to want more when we already have so so much? Well, I hate to tell you but with priviledge comes responsibility, and to me, that responsibility comes in the form of being damn sure that you are living 100% aligned to purpose.
I write this as an ode to anyone who is in the space of not knowing right now. I see you. I know how hard it is to feel that there is something else you’re meant to be doing. That there is some other way you’re meant to be living. That there is something that you were put on this planet to do and you can’t quite grasp what it is or where you’re meant to go next.
I write this as an ode to anyone who is at a point where they feel like they might just give in and follow the herd, because that’s what everyone does — right? It must be the right path. Or at least it must be an ok path, right?
I write this having felt all those things. I write this having gone through the ups and downs of the shoulds and musts and what ifs. I write this knowing, deeply in my heart, and from experience, that there is another way to be. There is another way to experience life. There is another way to feel every day.
I used to wake up most days feeling pretty good but also kind of dead inside. Like I was sleeping through life. It was all ok, I was doing the things, but it felt all a little bit ‘taupe’. I had genuinely got to a point where I accepted that this was just what life was. I’d accepted the idea that childhood was the best part of life and that that was it. Head down. Get to work. Take a holiday here and there. Go to a nice bar on a Thursday. Laugh about your hangover the next day. That’s it right? Well, it’s not. I can tell you whole heartedly from the depth of my being that it is not.
It’s been a year since I wrote that article, the one that everyone so kindly liked and commented on and wrote to me about. A year that has been challenging for everyone, myself included. But through the widespread and personal challenges I’ve faced, I have almost all the way through been filled with a depth of life that I’ve never experienced before. A depth of emotional experience, of connection, of autonomy, of aliveness. A sense of being able to live, to actually choose how to live, to serve people, to contribute. And that’s what we all really want isn’t it, to feel like we are contributing somehow? It gets wrapped up in posh wrappers all over the place but what we really want is to feel that we are somehow helping. That there is a point to us being here. I finally feel as if I’m actually living the life I was meant to live. I’m actually being the person I was meant to be, not squashed into the shape of what a 32 year old woman in London should be. I’ve finally found a freedom of being and recognised that life is for us to live, fully.
So I write this for anyone who is feeling like there must be more. There is more, and it’s yours for the taking. But, there’s a but. There’s a but because you have to be willing to do the work. I don’t mean the work in the conventional sense, studying more or going to an office to save more money type work. I mean the work on yourself. You have to be willing to fully unpick the knots in that necklace of your life. You have to be willing to spend time unpicking them, one by one, however agonising it is, however many nails you break and however frustrating it may be. You have to unpick those knots. You have to be willing to face all the stuff that you’ve been avoiding that has been keeping you stuck. You have to. It takes time, but I promise, from the bottom of my heart, that it is doable. I’ve done it. I know hundreds of people who are doing it. and you can do it too. What if it doesn’t work? What if it does..? What if you don’t have a purpose? What if you do..? What if this is the best I can feel? What if it isn’t…?
I mean, what do you have to lose?
Do the work, you, your life, and those you’re going to contribute to, depend on it.
Everything felt infused with irritation. I was doing all the things for everyone else that I thought I should be doing. I was doing all the acts of service. I was, technically, loving those people. And yet. It felt like every act I did, rather than being infused with love, was infused with a shards of glass shooting out of every plate I stacked.
It was a Thursday back in February 2018. The rain hadn’t stopped for months and London was right in the depths of what felt like the longest winter we’d ever had. The dark, damp days had started to getting to me so I’d taken refuge in a hot yoga class to warm up. The scent of palo santo blended with the sweat of 50 people pervaded the room. It was bonus day at work. They’d told us it had been a bad year and not to expect much. I peaked into the envelope, hopeful, as soon as they slid it across the table: £130k. But there I lay, in savasana, with hot, salty tears streaming down my face: I’d never felt emptier.
I always thought it was down to my mildly intense anxious attachment stuff playing out... that and just low key hating dating apps. But then as I started to date a little bit more than I usually do... I was faced with some of the real reasons I'd been avoiding it for so long... and here they are..
It’s been 2.5 years since I hop, skipped and jumped out of the trading floor and into self employed life. In all honesty, I never thought I’d have the courage to do it - I used to wake up in the middle of the night at times in a cold sweat, equally panicked about the prospect of leaving as I was about the prospect of never fully claiming my life.