In the world of social media we see so much of peoples' curated lives. Scrolling through our social media homepages we are exposed to endless numbers of perfectly filtered images of cosy Christmases, stunning vacations and tales of success. It can be quite overwhelming.
Recently, I've been thinking about the effects of these images and have realised how easily I've been sucked into an echo chamber; both as a consumer but also as a producer.
I've noticed that over the last few years I've felt it important to solely share the ‘best bits’ of my professional life. But I now realise how unhelpful that can be for others and even myself.
So, I want to start 2020 as I mean to go on, with an honest reflection. I left my last secure job as a school principal twelve years ago this month. It was a monumental decision for me and my family. It was a job I loved and was good at. It also brought security.
In many ways, I had achieved the very thing we are taught to seek out from early childhood; a high degree of certainty. However, thanks to the support of my friends and family I built up enough courage to take a leap into the unknown and become a freelancer, in what I have discovered to be a very precarious world.
Overall, I would describe myself as a positive person, someone who tries to contextualise their challenges and opportunities without being too cliched. I love life but I am also someone who obsesses about the future and what might lie ahead. I always have. I think it may be hereditary, my daughter and my grandfather are and were the same.
Thankfully, my fear isn’t manifested in the personal but does manifest in the professional. I live in a constant state of anxiety that work will dry up, that I will lose my credibility and that every year will be my last year on the job.
Usually I can control this shadow but every so often, it gets the better of me causing me mild flashes of panic. I drive my family crazy by adopting self-sabotaging habits. I spend too long scrolling through social media looking at how wonderfully well my contemporaries are doing, comparing my real-life self, to their online curated self.
I now realise that these habits are preventing me from truly appreciating the 'moment' and worse still, the privileged world I am lucky enough to inhabit. A world filled with health, love, stability (compared to many) and wonderful experiences.
The problem is, I spend far too long ‘on the train’ worrying about what the destination will be like, that I forget to look out the window and drink in the world around me.
I remember an interview with the footballer Rio Ferdinand, who had great success while playing for Manchester United. As he reflected upon his career, he talked about his one regret which was that he never really celebrated his successes when they happened because he was so obsessed with what came next. I know this is a behaviour that drives so many ‘successful’ people. My Grandfather worked so hard in his life; 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year in order to give his family a strong foundation (which he did) but when he died, we all realised that he had never really stopped to enjoy the fruits of his own labour.
In 2020 and moving forward, I am going to try really hard to think more about the now and trust that I can deal with the future when it arrives.
Enough for now, there is a beautiful sky outside and I’m going for a walk to enjoy it.