The first step

Week 3 Back in London

I’m into 3 weeks back in London and I cannot lie, not everyday has been on an up. Gosh it gets to me. Not having a purpose is hard. Not waking up with intention is demotivating. And so you get into a cycle of blah! I don’t know what I thought really. I guess optimistically I thought it would be better. Easier. Quicker. Who knows but I suppose I never thought it would be such a drag so often.

Don’t get me wrong, not all days are bad. There is something incredible about hearing the alarm go off, looking outside to the grey sky and climbing back in bed, cosy and wrapped up. Because ironically- it’s still raining in May here!!!

There is something even better than that though. When the sun comes out. When spring actually does what it’s meant to and you can walk the streets taking in everyone’s jubilation that they can be outside, free, doing their errands without bags and umbrellas, and trying to balance that with all their parcels while still protecting their shoes from getting soggy. (I meant to make that a long sentence with no full stops or commas, so you can feel the exhaustion ;))

I’m feeling the lull. And I don’t like this feeling. When I don’t know what I’m doing I go to the supermarket. Food and cooking is one of my favourite things. After work, if I was cooking for 1 or other people, I used to love he shopping before. The planning and ideas in my head as I walked through the colourful veggie lined aisles. Now, I just browse the aisles for ages looking at groceries. I put things in the basket. Take things out. Walk around. Choose flowers. Put them back. Then I look at my filled basket when it starts to get heavy and put the whole lot down and walk out.

When the aimless supermarket shop ritual starts I know I’m reaching a weak point. The first time I did it, I was in Johannesburg. It was when I was back to South Africa straight after landing from Buenos Aires. I did the exact same routine described above. It was the Tuesday after Easter Monday, so the previous week was like a holiday. I was in Cape Town for a few days with my family, I arrived in Joburg and I saw all my friends. Everyone was off work, I had people to see and call and meet. Then Tuesday hit. Quiet. Purposeless. It was the first day I felt alone and the reality of not working set in. No emails to urgently reply to. No calls to make or answer. First pointless supermarket ritual was born.

And it happened again this week. Uh uh. Red flag. Alarm bells in my head. Weak point alert. I know I need to kick into action but I feel frozen. I feel like I don’t know where to start. Like I don’t have the energy to even begin. And I know I have to. Want to. But I can’t right now. And then I feel guilty. Why don’t I want to get going with this. Am I lazy? Scared? Unconfident? But I know I’m none of those things so what is it?

It’s strange- when all the cliches you have said before come to life. The truth is, you really don’t know what someone else is going through until you walk in their shoes. I have spoken to friends over time who were out of work and looking for jobs. For whatever reason. And even though getting to that point is a different story for everyone, when you are at it, we are all in the same boat. I used to preach to them about being proactive. “Email all your contacts to see if there are opportunities. Send your CV to everyone. You’re in London- explore it and do everything you dream of doing when you’re stuck in an office!” But it feels very different when you are the one taking that advice. Not in a job. Without that safety net and protection… vulnerable and in the big world with no routine as your buffer.

Before I left for South America, I was so loving it. If anyone asked me what I wanted to do, or what work I was thinking of getting into, for the first few weeks I would say- “I am loving being a lady of leisure right now”. Then I cam back to London after South America, and this lady loving a life of leisure thing was not on my radar. Hmmmm… so in my mind I would pull on all the advice I so readily dished out, but it never stuck. And 3 weeks in, back in London I’m starting to have a few moments of wanting to throw in the towel. Go back to South America.

Unable to take that first step. The first step that opens the doors to all the opportunities around me. The first step I took when I decided to leave a job I loved, only because I knew I had reached a ceiling. The first step I took when I booked that ticked to Buenos Aires. I know the value of the first step… but I am putting off taking it. Miedo- It’s your fault! I blame you!

And anyone who has felt this about anything in your life can identify with that. Fear is the only thing that stumps up and holds us back. The ideas and stories in our mind that terrify us to a point of staying in the same place. Refusing to move. Rationalising why this thing or space that makes us more frustrated than elated is ok.

I got to know me while in South America. So now I know that when I can put the things I am feeling into words… it’s the next step looming. So it’s there, within my reach. And when the time is right I will take it. It’s closer… that I know for sure. Now it’s a case of going back to basics. Writing a list and ticking things off. Because even those small acts bring a sense of achievement for a fire to be lit.

Until then I am going to take my own advice and go on to explore London and tell you all about. Between interviews and emails, and multiple list ticking of course.There will be no should haves in this story either!

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