I've got an identity crisis - a career crisis to be exact. I came home and cooked dinner a few weeks ago and thought, is this all there is? And I didn't mean what was on my plate. I mean, I know I have SO much good going on in my life, and I am grateful for everything. But this daily grind - is THIS all there is? 12 years in, and I'm here. Is this a 33 year old crisis?
I know where I want to be.With a great sense of resentment, I feel like this isn't what I've worked for. I don't want to do anything I don't enjoy, anything that I'm not good at, anything that's not instrumental in creating positive change. And I realise how entitled that sounds - a Gen-Y expecting everything to fall into her lap. But that's not it at all. It's not entitlement. It's something else. And I have slowly realised what it is. I remember when I got back from overseas in 2012. I'd done all these amazing things including speaking at a university conference. I feared that one day I'd fall hard out of the enjoyment zone and hit the ground with a thud, a reality that I was no longer travelling and had to fit in all the nice-to-dos around the core responsibility that funds them. That happened. I suffered holiday withdrawals for months. And it happened again recently. Last year was SO amazing, so action packed, so intrinsically rewarding that it's been a big comedown. But that was more than just holiday withdrawals. That year was about finding my purpose. I have realised there's a danger in getting praise and validation for the things I'm good at and passionate about - because the mundane becomes difficult to bear. There was one day recently when I felt so undervalued, yet my byline was on the front page of an online newspaper. People were actively discussing what I'd written because it mattered to them, yet a simple task I did for someone else went without a thank you.
It's not about an inflated ego, but realising my purpose and worth and the things that matter to me. It's also about experiencing hierarchy - which I've always struggled with. At times I am a big fish - an authority in some subject matter. But mostly I am a little fish - where my opinion doesn't matter. And then I want to shout out "I am capable of more, don't you see that?". (I almost want to say "don't you know who I am?!", but that would be about an inflated ego!) I am an influencer in blogging and social media, disability and appearance diversity activism and advocacy, but I can't influence a decision elsewhere.
I gave my first paid social media consultation to a client (friend) recently. It felt so good to have my skills and knowledge valued and utilised.
It's hard to moonlight. Switching between two modes of thinking and climbing different hierarchies is exhausting. The hardest thing is when my passion spills over and I am told that my passion is a detriment. I feel too mouthy, too rebellious - despite being one of the most sensible and conservative people I know. I had hoped being named one of Australia's 100 Women of Influence would open doors, not close them. It seems that being out and proud about disability is confronting for people. And their prejudices - perhaps about my disability, and perhaps about my activism and public profile - show. I am not going to stop being true to myself.
Someone told me I can't have it both ways - I can't expect success in both careers. That upset me a lot. Maybe this is my version of not being able to have it all.
I constantly feel like I need to prove myself in the corporate arena. Constantly. That I'm more than a red face, that I am educated, capable, skilled, accomplished, that the illness component of Ichthyosis is not a liability and the appearance component is not something for people to be uncomfortable with. But perhaps this is all I'm going to get. This is all I will amount to and be expected of. And I am not ok with that.
I've worked too bloody hard to settle.