I went to the dentist on Monday. Over the weekend I went clothes shopping for the boyfriend and filled a skip with junk. I drank gin and tonics on Saturday night and the other week I voted in the European Parliament elections.
You can’t get much more normal (or dull) than that.
Life in South London is a world away from walking the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand.
I’ve been asked so many times (that I’ve lost count) what it’s like to be back. My answer is the same – it’s all a little surreal.
The thing is it’s not “real life” that feels surreal, but rather the other life I had in New Zealand that feels surreal. That life feels a very long time ago.
I’ve been back in the UK now for three weeks and it’s been almost three months since the end of #WalkNZ (and quite a while since I last wrote a blog post). So, where am I at?
Well, the good news is I seem to have got over the worst of my post-adventure blues and inertia, and I really embraced coming back to London to start on the next phase of my life – the life coaching, motivational speaking, book writing phase – before heading back to New Zealand in December for Take 2 of #WalkNZ.
That said, it’s all been a little bit slow. I’ve put some feelers out about speaking opportunities and I’ve had a couple of bites for the future (yay!). I attended a Toastmasters meeting and completely freaked out when everyone there was so amazingly good at public speaking while I just shrunk in the corner wishing a giant black hole would open up. I’ve also had a couple of articles accepted based on my learnings from walking 2,000km. Small steps and no massive change in the scheme of things but I’ve done something so this has to be a positive.
The other good news is my eating is finally under much better control (for the most part) and is almost normal – I’ve still got a lot of Easter chocolate and leftover NZ treats to get through though. I’ve joined a gym and this week I had my first session with my new personal trainer who will get me match fit for my return to NZ. It’s all about stretching and body realignment – basically painful body contortions aimed at injury prevention. Type 2 fun for sure!
Which brings me to the not so positive stuff. My leg has still not recovered (I know!). It has vastly improved but every so often it flares up if I overdo it like speed walking to catch a train the other week. It’s incredibly frustrating, especially since the personal trainer has told me not to do any high impact activity. Jumping is a big no no.
The book is still locked in the recesses of my mind. I haven’t even finished the book outline yet – indeed I haven’t even looked at the book outline the whole time I’ve been back in the UK. I can see the truth in the saying that to write a book you have to make time to write a bit every day/week. Some self-discipline is sorely needed.
The worst part about being back, however, is work. I’m just not used to sitting in front of a computer for nine hours a day. It’s something of a problem when you’re self-employed like I am and you’re having to pitch for work because you don’t actually have any work lined up. I dislike pitching at the best of times – rejections and radio silence really get you down after a while – but trying to find my mojo every morning is becoming a new-found skill, although it’s one that isn’t coming that easily at the moment. Right now I’m writing a blog post instead of writing an article pitch. Enough said!
I got pretty down the other day when I just hit the wall and had enough of everything. And, of course, that triggered my self-doubt. I then spent a good portion of time beating myself up, telling myself that I was useless, that I was wasting time, that I was being pathetic, that I wasn’t good enough.
And then I had an idea. I’ve clearly been putting way too much pressure on myself since getting back to the UK. In my head (and on paper) I’ve got a list of things I need to do, story ideas I want to pitch, a bank account that needs tending to, as well as creating a whole host of expectations that I should be aiming for and achieving, some of which are not very realistic. Simple fact is if I don’t tick those things off my list, if I don’t meet those expectations then I start to beat myself up, I start to feel like a failure and self-doubt starts to rule the roost and then I start to worry about what other people might think. It becomes a downward spiral. Three weeks back and I fear my mindset is getting back into this old way of thinking.
After my epic navel gazing session on failure after having to pull out of #WalkNZ, I’m a little more comfortable with the concept of it but when I realised how many expectations I’m potentially “failing to meet” I thought something isn’t right here. I shouldn’t be basing my life or my worth on whether or not I meet a made-up expectation I’ve randomly decided to put on myself.
So, I’ve decided to normalise “failure”.
That way I’m hoping I won’t be scared of it and won’t continually beat myself up when I don’t measure up – and I might even learn a thing or two.
Every week, I’m going to review what I’ve “failed” and publicly put it out there on my social media for the world to see. And then I’m going to congratulate myself on failing, note that the world hasn’t ended, and see if there is a different way of looking at it.
It’s sort of like keeping a gratitude diary but in reverse. For me, it’s about shifting my thinking from fearing failure and beating myself up about it to being proud of it.
Follow along with the hashtag #normalisefailure.