You’re not yourself. Are you ok?
I’ve been hearing this quite a bit recently and it’s got me thinking. I know I’m not myself, I feel different, my thoughts are different, I have goals and am often distracted thinking about things I want to do next so am not always present like I used to be, but the main question I have is who actually am I? Maybe a bit deep for a Sunday but it’s definitely something I’m struggling with as my children get older.
There was the ‘Before Me’, when I was a fun loving party animal, then Pregnant me, followed sharply by New Baby me, not long after I became Two Baby me, which led to PND me, then I got better, my children got older, and more self sufficient and I’m left with. Who?
I genuinely don’t know. When I’m in my usual environment, school run, parties etc, I’m absolutely fine, confident, bubbly, cracking jokes, (mostly!), comically moaning about a crap day, but recently I’ve started spreading my wings a little and attending blogging events and conferences and I’ve realised that I am hopeless in these situations.
It’s not that I’m not the real me online, it’s just much easier to be myself from behind the screen, when I’m actually face to face with people in the real world, I get tongue tied, have a crisis of confidence, will they recognize me, will they like me as much as they seem to in our twitter conversations? I stumble over words, I’ve even started blushing again, something I thought I’d firmly put in the Before Me box!
Is this because it’s built on an online world? Where you can sit and chat to people in your pyjamas without them ever knowing, (or type a blog post in this instance!), I am totally myself online but I wonder if that is the myself that I could be without all the usual hang ups that face to face interaction brings. When I’m in a real life scenario, all the things that used to haunt me come back with force. All the negative thoughts, am I good enough? What am I doing here? Do I have a right to be here? Coupled with the self doubt, they’re a really big blogger, why would they want to talk to me? What the hell am I wearing? My clothes looked fine when I left but seriously, in comparison to everyone else who seems more glamorous, more shiny, more put together somehow, I suddenly feel a bit frumpy. And overweight. (Although I’m apparently not, according to the very important colourful looking chart at the Doctors the other day, a first in a very long time!)
But is this more that this is just a passage back into the real world that every stay, or work from home parent experiences? For the last seven or so years, I have been on a journey, a mad, exhilarating, exciting, scary, happy, sad, heartbreakingly joyous journey and of course that has changed me, as it would change anyone. The things I once thought were so important, I now realise really really aren’t. I scan the bookshelves and lay my hand upon a title that has been so well read that the spine is almost destroyed, and I read the blurb and have no interest in reading it. Books were so important to me once, I even learnt how to read whilst brushing my teeth and would often get caught with a torch under the duvet trying to squeeze in ‘just one more chapter’!! Not anymore though.
My reading tastes have changed, firstly to the big book that showed me every stage of my baby’s journeys to being, then to baby help books, weaning books, super nanny toddler books and now, well now I don’t really have the time to devote to a book. I put my everything into this blog and the social media aspect that goes hand in hand with it. Every spare moment I am writing, or reading the words of the other wonderful people I have discovered on this new journey. And I think that is ok. For now. One day I would like to get back into reading but there is plenty of time for that, the books will still be there.
And the other things that I loved doing, long hikes, that went out the window a long time ago, however, I can see glimpses of it returning in the not too distant future, just with two small versions of me in tow. Who whinge more then me about hills! So now we try to find things that we like doing as a family. So the things I like doing now are actually shaped by other people. The blogging aspect is something I do just for me. I leave the family behind, I get the train, I stay in hotels with people I’ve never met in real life until that day and I walk into rooms filled with people that all seem to know each other and I mingle and I chat and try my hardest to be the inner me that comes through online.
So I suppose what I’m saying is that I’m choosing to leave my safe and comfortable dent I’ve made in my life, and to step out and start on some sort of a new journey to try and find out who Post Baby me is. It’s scary. And it would be much easier to stay nestled in my comfort zone with the remote and a packet of chocolate hobnobs but I’m determined to do one thing, (maybe not every day, but every month at least!), that scares me. I recently tackled my spider phobia, which was a huge deal for me. And I intend to keep pushing myself into new situations and attend blogging events and try new books and watch films and to keep blogging, and putting myself out there and I’ll see what happens.
Hopefully next year I’ll be able to sit here, confident in the knowledge that I am very much myself, and know what that actually means! So next time someone say, ‘You’re not yourself, are you ok?’ I think I’ll just say, ‘I’m so glad I have such perceptive friends! I’m not myself, but actually, I’m not entirely sure who that is.’ and hopefully they will all understand because surely we’re all in a similar boat.
How have you transitioned from parenthood back into ‘still a parent but back in the non-parent world too’? (And I write for a living! Any ideas for a better way of phrasing that?!)