How Making Hard Choices Becomes Our Identity

So, if you read my last post, you’ll remember that I’m going through some kind of self discovery mission. Or identity crises. Call it what you will, I’m trying to find out where this is all going. Deep, huh? I guess I’m quite contemplative and reached a point where I feel I’m more of a by-stander than actually in charge…

I came across this book by Paul Tiger, Barbara Barron and Kelly Tiger: Do What You Are. (I’ll add it to the shop section so you can easily find it.) It’s based on the concept of Personality Type – also known as the Myers-Briggs Personality Type. If you’re not familiar, it’s something that I also came across for the first time in grad/post-graduate school only five years ago. Essentially, it measures your preferences across four areas and determines how you might fit an organisation, for example. A lot of companies apparently use this, and in our university, it was an experiment for putting us into groups and observe the performance, the theory being that compatible personality types will work effectively and efficiently. My group did very well, but it certainly wasn’t without its struggles! In hindsight, although I wouldn’t necessarily class any of my group members as “friends”, there may have been something to this. So I got curious.

You’re assigned four letters which makes up a personality type (out of 16). This isn’t to say that you don’t have some tendencies from other personalities. Some preferences are stronger than others and you could fall anywhere on a spectrum of Introvert – Extravert, for instance. I couldn’t remember my letters from the comprehensive test at university, so I have had to go back and self-assess based on preferences I’m aware of, and by reading examples. So it tells me I’m this combination: ISTP – Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving. I don’t want to bore you with the details, so here’s a summary: A realist. I’m very analytical and see things as they are. Practical, fair and logical, base decisions on hard facts. Quiet and reserved, can give of impression of shyness, cool or aloof.

There it is. LOGICAL. It’s almost fair to say that I’m obsessed with it. Things need to make sense. That’s probably why I used to love mathematics in school so much. My husband often jokes that he should get a shirt made up for me that reads ‘Maths makes sense’. Reading the full personality type description, it fits me like a shoe. So what’s my career? What should I be doing with my life? Ah, it’d just be all so easy if the answers were written in a book like some kind of formula, wouldn’t it? And then randomly, last night, I couldn’t find anything I wanted to watch and stumbled across some TED talks on Netflix.

I watched a playlist, and some I’d seen already so I wasn’t paying all that much attention until Ruth Chang started. She talked about how to make hard choices. Ultimately, this is what has lead me down this path, isn’t it? Read my previous post and you’ll see that my head is just a jumble at the moment. I can’t seem to make much sense of the chaos within – should I or shouldn’t I return to work? If I do, what will I do? Is it worth it if there’s a chance that we might move again? What’s the most transferable career that I can do in case we do move again? These are big questions! To me, anyway. You may be a bit more pragmatic and find it easy to come up with a solution. I could just do any job, but as I find myself in a rather privileged position of having time to find myself, I’m being choosey. Too choosey, even. It’s like being a vegetarian in a vegetarian restaurant. I’m used to having two – if I’m lucky, three – choices on the menu. I’m overwhelmed in a vegetarian restaurant. Everything sounds SO GOOD. How do you choose? So Ruth Chang, in this TED talk, has this incredibly LOGICAL way of explaining (which utterly appealed to me, obviously) that hard choices are not founded necessarily on facts or one being better than the other. It’s just not clear-cut like that most of the time. She explains that it boils down to what is it that I want.  Where do I see myself going with this? Where do I want to be?  These hard choices we make, make up the person we want to be. Take a look.

A lightbulb went up in my head. So I’m back to square one. I won’t find the answer spelled out in a book. I won’t find the answer by looking around; I have to look within. While this personality type book explains in what setting I probably would be most satisfied – certain criteria that are more or less met – I need to figure out what life I long for. How I want to live my existence.

So start number 2: Do I start with what I enjoy doing? While I have a long list of things I class as hobbies, I never take the time to really immerse myself in any of them. Sewing, drawing, painting, pottery, photography, going for walks. Or perhaps meditation and taking a time-out each day is that way forward…?

Where would you start?

I’m Back

I’m sorry for the radio silence over the last few months. Life took over and whenever I did draft a post in the middle of the night when my mind was racing, it never felt right to publish it.

In any case, to update you briefly on recent life events… we moved to SCOTLAND! Yes, bonny wee Scotland. Thankfully the sun has come out for at least five minutes just now so I’m feeling inspired. Inspired to write, to share. It’s certainly been an adjustment living up here. For a start, my legs have given up walking anywhere, and it’s been replaced with driving. Consequently, I’ve put on 3 (yes, THREE!!!!) kilograms, which had further dampened my spirits to write any posts here. I have invested in a FitBit, though, and signed up to WeightWatchers. I’ve also joined the “local” gym – a ten minute drive away – but I’ve been going quite regularly in the last ten days since joining (mainly by making appointments with random people in the gym – health check, gym intro, etc.). It seems to be helping as I’ve lost 500g already so I’m feeling positive… and my muscles are positively aching! All good.

Dragon has started a new school and settled in very well. So much so that we’ve upped his attendance days from 2.5 to 4.5 days! Which leaves no excuse for me to not write more regularly on ZingMama…! And boy oh boy, I have so much that’s been going through my head. It’s mainly been a sort of identity crisis. With all this “free” time, I feel as though I ought to do something more productive than just cleaning the house, catching up on some reading, social media, fitness, and the like, you know?

Our move to Scotland has always been with a more permanent end-goal in mind. We want to settle somewhere where we’re not slaving away at a job to someone else’s benefit. We want to spend more time with our son and enjoy the moments we have. We want to grow the family. And be near family and friends. My family is in Germany and my husband’s are UK and New Zealand, so we’ll see where life will take us. It’s all up in the air… it always is with us. So we’re trying to be better about planning next steps and we’re more financially grounded now which should hopefully help in our decision-making.

So, in my quest for future planning / proofing, I’m considering returning to work. I’ve not worked in a “proper” work setting for over five years now. Just as long as I was in employment before I decided to return to university and get a Masters. I could’ve had ten years of experience on my CV by now had I decided back then that continuing to work my way up the career ladder was better suited to me. So there’s that. I have BA in Graphic Design Communications which I never truly applied in a work setting. Now I have an MSc in Strategic Marketing and still no sign of applying my education to earn a living. Coupled with five years of events management experience and my CV seems totally in chaos. You see my dilemma.

This led me to the National Careers Service website to try to figure out how best I can apply my interests and skills in a work setting. The idea is you take several assessments and at the end it spits out a report with suitable jobs to match my profile. Best matches for my skills were “Medicine and Nursing” and “Transport”. WOW, REALLY!? Then below, it listed two more job families I may be interested in: “Arts, Crafts and Design” and “Financial Services”. That’s more like it. So after taking a few more tests and analysing job profiles, I briefly toyed with the idea of doing Accountancy. My mum is an accountant, and more than just bookkeeping and reconciling statements, it turns out that accountants also give strategic advice based on finances. I had never given the profession much thought so this was news to me. I was excited by the notion of “Strategy”. After realising, however, that a minimum of three years’ exams and work experience are required, I went back to the drawing board. In the grand scheme of things, it’s certainly not a very long time. And I wish I had taken steps to figure this out three years ago so that at this point, I would already be mostly through the examinations… hindsight, ey?

Further contemplation has led me to the conclusion that if I were to return to work, my best bet is to build up my CV by applying my actual Masters education and putting it to some bloody good use. Why else did I spend £11,500 on a degree that I’m not using!? That’s just daft. I do have my reservations, however. Or maybe it’s just a confidence boost I need. it’s been four years since I graduated. Annoyingly, digital marketing was barely covered on the course and I was furious already back then. One day – 3.5 hours of class – out of a whole year. It was just f*&^ed. Excuse my French. It gets my blood boiling again just thinking about it. Needless to say, after graduating from the course, I wasn’t confident about my digital marketing skills, let alone four years later when things have been progressing at such a rapid rate that probably even the digital marketers actually in employment are struggling to keep up with the ever-changing digital landscape! I’m therefore considering doing a top-up course in digital marketing to give me a fighting chance when I put my CV out there into the big webbed world of job sites. The endless trawling through job specs. Ugh. I do not miss that ONE BIT. Is this really the best course of action…? I convince myself one way but I have an equally strong argument for the opposite and there’s this endless debate in my head. I really don’t know.

It’s funny, isn’t it? You work so hard on being a parent, full-time, and then suddenly, when they start school, you’re sort of lost. Nobody really warns you about what’s to come when you’re pregnant. You’re then suddenly thrown in the deep end of parenthood and somewhat re-emerge years later to find that you’ve lost yourself a little along the way. You’re so committed to someone else, doing the day-to-day tasks and coping as best as you know how. You lose yourself a little along the way. What’s your purpose? To make sure that this little person grows into a responsible, caring, kind, happy human being who is independent from my wallet? Ensure they become the best version of themselves? To find peace with yourself and do the best you can? Provide food and shelter? What’s the benchmark? What’s good enough? Where do you stop? There’s this endless pressure everywhere, and “competition” with others that I’ve forgotten to look after myself. Looking at peers from my MSc course climbing the career ladder, friends with kids returning to work and also climbing the career ladder or bringing in an additional income (and therefore being more financially independent), other stay-at-home mums who appear to have their perfect homes spotless, two-course dinner on the table every night without fail… Everywhere I look, I seem to feel inadequate. I really can’t answer those questions and maybe I should give myself time to do exactly that.

And then I bought this magazine “Psychologies”. Every sub-title on the cover seemed to somehow resonate with my emotional state. Re-invent yourself. Introvert or Extrovert? – Transform your family dynamic. FIND PEACE. I think that’s ultimately where it’s at, isn’t it. Self-acceptance, living wholeheartedly and stopping this endless game of comparing myself to others to feel self-worth, which inevitably and undeniably has the opposite effect. Self acceptance. Yes, I’m saying it again. Over and over in my head. Accept myself for who I am. But there’s the rub. I need to understand who I am first.

So that’s where this all begins. Where does my story start? What do I want my story to be? So I’ve find myself on this path of self discovery. Care to take it with me? I feel a little bit like Bridget Jones here. Writing what seems like a diary entry. I’m about to give body measurements as though that somehow defines who I am. But it’s a start.

Weight – 68.0 kg

BMI: 25.6 (marginally overweight)

Body fat: 37% – yeeesh!

Mental state: chaos.

 

 

 

Anna xo

 

If you have your story of self discovery to share, I’d love to hear from you!

 

Reflection: Food Attitude

I have said before how I was raised a vegetarian but I’d never really taken much interest in food as a child, or even as an adult. I never educated myself about it and my version of vegetarianism was meat substitutes, potatoes, bread and anything that went well with pasta, usually pesto. Occasionally I’d spend some time in the kitchen making a salad or cake but mostly, it was a quick in and out job.  Continue reading “Reflection: Food Attitude”