Monthly Archives: June 2012

Being brave

This week, I found myself wondering about what being a grown up really means…

I had a bit of an episode, when I got really nervous about something and I think this is what triggered my thinking. You see, I get really nervous around motorways or whenever I’m driving and get lost somehow. I won’t dwell on it on this post (I’ll probably write about this another time), but I just wanted to say that the simple fact of a road diversion can get me all jittery.

This week wasn’t a very stressful one overall, but little things managed to get to me and throw me slightly off balance. When that happens, I usually think “what would the grown ups of my family do?”. These can be my mother, my grandmother, my dad, my stepmother or my stepfather. I have these 5 people on a bit of a pedestal, as they usually have all the answers for me.

I am 33 years old and I still see myself as a teenager most of the time. And then when I do something really grown up, like braving myself through a different route to work, I don’t even remember that no, I don’t really need praise for it. This is what I should be doing all the time at this stage in my life.

The bottom line is that I don’t consider myself a very brave person. You know, like those people that just don’t hesitate to take a risk and just go for things. I need to always have a bit of a plan in place, and when that plan is in place, I always organise a plan B too, just in case. I fear that my very specific approach on taking risks in life means that I’m probably not enjoying it as much as I could. After all, we only live once, don’t we?

When I feel really useless and like a little girl afraid of everything, I try to go through my life and remember some occasions where I did show some sort of bravery. Like, for example, when I moved to a country on the other side of the  ocean, miles and miles away from home, all on my own. I should take the credit for that, shouldn’t I? I know that millions and millions of people have done this before, but for a relatively scared person like me, this should count as a bit of a life achievement.

I was also brave when I decided to stay in this country and start a life here for myself. I have had jobs (and now have one I love after one more little act of bravery!), I have new friends, I have a new doctor, I even have a new mechanic for my car. And I found the way to get all of these all on my own. However, there are still areas where I go into panic mode. When I’m driving, for example. Or when I have to make a big decision.

I hate making a decision. I always analyze far to much and then end up confusing myself with all the pros and cons, ifs and maybes… it’s stressful, but I tend to make it even more stressful than it should be, really. My partner Lee, on the other hand, is a very straightforward person. He is quite quick to grasp if something is a good or a bad idea and things are usually quite clear and simple for him. On my side, I sleep on it, I dwell on it, I stress over it and I always end up making a decision that I’m never entirely sure is the best one. I lack on confidence.

To be a grown up, though, you need to be confident, don’t you? You need to be able to deal with so many things at the same time and also try and keep that peace of mind that is so important. For me, getting paranoid over things means that my energy gets drained and I feel powerless. I have to change that.

Although change is necessary, I’m still not quite sure about how to do this. Do I just start being braver in my decisions and going for it, not thinking too much? But then if I do that and things don’t go well, won’t I regret it all and then blame myself for not having taken a more cautious route? It’s hard to change yourself. You know what people say… start as you mean to go on? Well, I believe in that. I’m a great believer that we do things for the sake of it, because we have done it the same way for years and it has become a habit so intrinsict that it becomes almost impossible to change. But I also believe that we have to recognise when something needs changing. We need to recognise when the way we go about things is holding us back instead of taking us forward.

It is a big challenge to make a big change, especially when some of the things we do and the way we do them is connected so closely with our personality. I want to be braver. I want to have the courage to see an opportunity and believe that I can do something about it. I want my belief in myself to drive me forward and I want to stop wasting time making plans and trying to schedule life so much that opportunities just pass me by, waving at me whilst I sit there with my cofffee and my ‘to do’ list .

To make big changes, we have to start somewhere and I know that most people usually get overwhelmed by how big a task it is to change some of our habits. Perhaps if we take it slowly we can achieve more. We have to keep going, slowly but surely. Things won’t change overnight, but we have to start. I have always loved a sentence from that movie “Vanilla Sky” and I think that I’ll use that as my startying point for my change of being braver in life. If we think about change as putting one foot after the other, maybe the whole process will look less scary. The sentence from the movie is: “every passing minute is a another chance to turn it all around”. Let’s grab all those minutes and make them count just as we want them to.

Categories: Personality traits | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Daily dose of happiness

I used to be one of those people that worked for the weekend. Every Sunday night, I used to have that funny feeling in my stomach whilst lying in bed wondering what I was actually supposed to be doing with my life. I used to think of work as this daily 8-hour task that was completely in the way, when I felt I should be giving my attention to something else. Ok, I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be doing instead, so as bills do exist and have to be paid, I had no choice but carry on doing whatever I was doing. Needs must.

When I first came to England, fresh with a Marketing degree, I got a job in an advertising agency thinking that I’d start working in my area of choice, but then I got completely diverted when my employers wanted me to study accountancy and offered to sponsor the course for me. In a foreign country, I thought that some additional qualifications wouldn’t go amiss, so I decided to go for it. For 3 years, I studied numbers and more numbers and nearly died of boredom. Well, now reading this last sentence again, I guess I’m being a little unfair. I did enjoy some parts of it as the world of accountancy can be interesting sometimes. But the passion wasn’t there.

After deciding that Accounts wasn’t floating my boat and no matter how much I tried it never would, I went back to marketing. And in my job now I get to be creative, which is what I enjoy the most. Marketing is about finding clever solutions for problems, and working with the team on finding the best ways to communicate to an audience is something I feel it’s worth spending my time on. I’m in much more contact with words than numbers now as well, and this makes me happy.

There is some kind of security you get with working in accounts,though. If it balances, you know it’s right. There’s no chance that 1 + 1 isn’t 2 and that’s that. With marketing, it’s a completely different picture.It’s not a black and white science, even though many theories do guide the trade. It’s a matter of grasping quickly what needs to be said and then saying it in the best way. It took some time for me to decide to go back to marketing after 5 years in the financial world and this was because, somehow, finance seems a less volatile world and you tend to feel more secure working in an area like that. However, once the decision was made, there was no going back.

I always thought that very few people get to earn a living by doing something they enjoy, so I was surprised when one day I found myself in that category. Of all the agencies I have worked for, this is by far the best. At Happy Creative, we are a small team of 8 that has a lot of fun in the workplace. I like the wacky ideas we come up with in our brainstorms, I like the results we bring to our clients and I absolutely love the fact that there is no set routine.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that if you have a funny feeling about work and feel that you should be doing something else, maybe you should. Trust your gut feeling. Work out what makes you feel worthy and go for it. I did just that and, although I don’t earn as much as I did doing Accounts, that Sunday night feeling is no longer there and this has made such a massive difference in my life overall. It’s not all about money. Life is too short to waste the 260 days a year you spend at work being miserable.

Go for your dreams, believe in yourself and fight for what you want. It’s like they say… “love what you do and you’ll never have to work another day in your life”.


Categories: Uncategorized, Work | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Another time…

I always thought that I would be happier in a different era. I have this melancholic thing about me, like I’m always missing something or someone that has gone or even missing something that is right there next to me. It’s kind of weird. It’s a feeling of emptiness somehow, but no, don’t you worry, I’m not depressed. I even enjoy it. It makes me feel… well, it makes me feel me.

I love old movies and I love the way people behaved in the old times. People were so polite and respectful and I really admire that. Yes, there are many things that are much better now. Men and women are slowly becoming equals, people have choices and the chance to fight for their rights and being rich no longer necessarily means that you can rule the world. Or kind of (unfortunately).

So here we go… I invite you to travel back in time with me and decide which is the best era of all… is it the 50s, the 60s or the 70s?

The 50s…

The 50s began with rationing and austerity and ended with a big and loud music concert starring the likes of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Elvis Presley, to name a few. The glamour of the American lifestyle heavily influenced the 50s, with cars reflecting American tastes and actresses such as Marilyn Monroe taking over the world (and any man in sight!). The fifties was a decade of conservative attitudes and values. By the end of the decade, the world had largely recovered from World War II and there were already stirrings of the freedom that would sweep in…


The 60s…

With the hippie movement on the background towards the end of the decade, the 60s are seen as a “breaking free” period, where rigid culture and social constraints were challenged in view of individual freedom. People wanted to deviate from the norm and this could be seen everywhere, in the men’s beehive hairdos and in the women’s short styles popularized by Twiggy, as well as with the rise of feminism and gay rights movements.

The 60s were about making sure people had choices, which is proven by the introduction of the birth control pill and the widespread, socially accepted drug use, with LSD and marijuana being the favourites at the time. This fight for freedom created a “counterculture” that sparked a social revolution throughout much of the western world. The underground press, a huge and eclectic collection of newspapers, served as a unifying medium for the counterculture.

The soundtrack of this revolution was crafted by no less than personalities such as Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Simon and Garfunkel and, of course (my beloved) The Beatles, amongst many others that made the earth shake with good tunes and inspiration. The Woodstock Festival in upstate New York marked the era too, with its “3 days of peace and music”.

The 70s…

With major conflicts between capitalist and communist forces taking place in multiple countries, it’s no wonder that civil rights movements started to play a major role in the 70s. This era was also marked by a presence and rise of a significant number of women as heads of state and heads of government across the world, including the famous “Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher in the UK.
Writers such as Virginia Woolf and Agatha Christie made their marks in the literary world and Andy Warhol presented us with his pop art. The fashion on the streets had ladies in platform shoes and men with sideburns and, of course, a home wasn’t a home if it didn’t feature large patterns of  something very bold somewhere to be seen.
Elton John, James Taylor, Bee Gees, ABBA, Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin and others provided the soundtrack that could be listened to with the help of the many high tech gadgets that were being invented and sold to the masses.
The 70s were an era of Star Wars, technology, increasing political awareness and landing on the moon (arguably). Ready for the 80s and onwards…
There are a million things that I haven’t mentioned here about each decade, it’s just impossible to cram all the good and bad of each era in one blog post. Given the choice, though, I think I’d have liked to live in the sixties, with all its twist and shouts, individual freedom,  bellbottom pants and a bit of revolution for good measure. I can see myself with flowers in my hair and a few words to say to whoever cares to hear…

This is the problem. We always want more. Either out of ourselves or out of life. Unfortunately, though, the time we live in can’t be changed. We can’t just go on a time machine and transport ourselves to a different time, where we think we would fit in better. Where we land to live our lives has been carefully crafted by the man upstairs. Or maybe not. Maybe it’s all one big lottery and, if we feel out of place, it’s just because we have been extremely unlucky.

Categories: Different eras, Personality traits, Time | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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