Last Wednesday I celebrated International Women’s Day at an event put on by the fabulous crew at Champagne Cartel. They had a bunch of great speakers who all pretty much shared the same message…be yourself!
It got me thinking back to the past couple of years of my life that led to that very night on the terrace in Southbank. I had a moment looking out at the Brisbane skyline and thought, “This is who I am. It’s so good to be back”.
Three years prior to that moment, I became a mum. Very quickly my entire world and sense of self got thrown into a hurricane of emotions, lack of sleep, life changes, body changes, financial struggles and relationship strains.
Just when I thought I had a handle on things, baby number two came along. And there I was, a stay at home mum. I abhor that term. To me it implies sleep-ins and lazy days on the couch reading books and drinking wine. At least, that’s what I would do if I could stay at home. Instead, I left a career, travel, nice clothes, great friends, socialising and a reasonable amount of trash-baggery behind to care for two small people who are solely reliant on me to survive.
I love being a mum. I adore my children. But somewhere along the way I became someone else. Someone who wasn’t me. In my quest to regain my identify, I went where all modern philosophers go to seek wisdom – social media.
There the answer was simple. I had to be at peak levels of post baby fitness, running my own 6 figure business whilst doing daily yoga and having a morning coffee by the beach (or turmeric latte), then playing developmental games with my children, all before cooking an organic, sugar free paleo dinner for the whole family to enjoy. A spot of cleaning, complete my daily 10,000 words, read a chapter of my book then a night-time meditation followed by a warm bath and 9 hours sleep.
OK, so I didn’t see one person doing all of those things. But, I saw a bunch of people succeeding and achieving in one day, far more than I could in months. If they weren’t sharing their own success stories it was a motivational quote or an article to chase your dreams and things to that effect.
I felt depleted. I had tried to go sugar free so I could share the joy of all the disease ridden social media stars, who swear that cutting sugar has led to a utopian state of being. I tried to meditate daily and set a bunch of alarms to remind me to calm down, only they made me more anxious as I kept ignoring them. I even tried my hand at starting a co-venture to finally live the dream of writing my own pay check and giving the finger to the man. Turns out, I’m not driven by those things.
I thought I was a failure and berated myself constantly for not living up the fabricated dream forced upon me in my social media feeds.
Whilst searching for a recipe for a sugar free cake, I stumbled upon a wonderful article on healthy eating that brought everything back into perspective. You don’t have to count calories and ditch an entire food group to be healthy.
Then I stopped. I deleted all my social media accounts, shut down my blog, took some time out from my mates and searched inwards. I did a lot of reading, mostly fiction. I hung out with my family. Sat on the beach and breathed in the salt air. I got back to my roots and figured out what I want.
I’m a simple gal. I don’t ask for much. I don’t want to be a size 6-bikini model. I want to be healthy and strong and enjoy my food. I don’t want to build an empire from the ground up. I want to work somewhere that fosters creativity and ensures a consistent, monthly pay check. I don’t have to be a Zen master and meditate 4 hours a day. I can just take some time out every now and then and breathe and be aware of the present moment. Those are things that matter to me.
Which leads me back to that moment on the terrace. All those amazing ladies shared the same thing, BE YOURSELF.
As I stood there, I remembered who I was before kids. I worked out and did yoga and meditated as often as I could or when the mood struck me. As a mum, I care for and nurture my kids and love them with all I have, but I’m not going to win any awards. You know what? That’s OK. This is who I am. And being ok at all of those things suits me just fine. I don’t have to be exceptional in every single aspect of my life to be successful.
Success to me is being happy. And my happiness is found in good people, good food, laughter, cuddles and a good bottle of wine. Let’s be honest, any wine will do. That’s what brings me joy. That’s me being myself.