Spring always brings with this funny, lovely sense of renewal, like we shed winter’s baggage and move on to new things. It sounds trite but it’s true, for me, at least.
Spring day will mark two years since I took the leap and became a freelance writer.
I’ve decided not to spend this post looking back over the past two years, because a lot has gone down. Some of it incredible, some of it scary and, well, most of it left me with a sense of gratitude. For that, and through that, I know I have learnt.
I have had to, out of necessity, withdraw into a little cocoon a lot, over the last two years, in an effort to *just get things done*. There were some people who made me feel bad about this but, they don’t matter to me or my life anymore. It’s been a two-year period of learning to focus, and sticking to that focus. The ability to focus on one thing at a time seemed like a mystery to me for so long. But, I have learnt focus, and I have become very aware that I should not apologise for it.
When I made this jump, it was done with the full support of the people who matter – one of them, in particular, made damn sure I followed through on it – I don’t think I can ever repay her for that. Another person, my absolute confidante and life partner (what a term…he deserves a better term…) consistently believes on the days I cannot.
But, I did not just make this jump for me, or because of something my parents said to me before they died (they both did, and thinking of it now, I should’ve listened sooner). I did it for someone else entirely, too.
About twelve hair colours ago (which would make it about six or seven years ago), I was conversing with a then-colleague, who remarked:
“You know, now that you’re beyond the survival mode of nappies and wiping butts, you have a girl to teach. And you can’t teach her by dictating to her. If you want her to grow up thinking she can follow her dreams, you have to show her”.
I came away from that conversation, petrified. You can read every parenting book, buy every expensive toy, have your child on a routine and provide them with sensory learning experiences until they are blue in the face…and you’ve still not even begun parenting.
That conversation shocked me and scared me for a long, long time. In fact, it probably made me even more scared of even, ever trying to “be a writer”. Suddenly I had been made aware that, no matter what I did from there onwards, I was not just doing it for me, but it would be the example my daughter would lean on for the rest of her life.
That sense of responsibility sat in my brain for a long time. Suddenly (and yes, I realise I was slow to this game…), I began to understand that all the things I did were not only being watched, but truly assimilated into someone else. This, therefore, gave me an influence I had not expected or thought about at 2am, when I was way more concerned with trying to figure out how to rebundle a sick kid into bed and avoid sleeping in vomit.
But, there it was.
About a year after that conversation, my life uncobbled. It untangled and laid bare a mess I had not wanted to confront. I was completely at a loss, because I’d kinda bet on something, and it didn’t work out. Even worse, was realising that to untangle myself from being driven into some weird and dark life place, I had to use my own mental strength to get out of it. I was scared.
And it was at that exact moment that I got my very first opportunity to write professionally. I read that now, and I want to cringe, because I know just how much life has happened SINCE then…yet, at the time, I thought life was entirely derailed.
But. That moment was the spark that led me towards believing I could do this. I’ve had such incredible opportunities come my way, since then. I have worked with (and still do!) some of the planet’s most fantastic citizens. It was that spark that started my path towards here.
I had no confidence when I began. Everything that came to me, at that time, seemed like it was a favour. I know now that it wasn’t. It was just someone else believing in me, before I could. I am so grateful for their belief in me.
Every single goal since then (bar one…that was minor, happened this year and really should not have affected me as I let it, silly Cath) that I have set up for myself, I have been given the opportunity to achieve. No, I haven’t achieved all of them but, that doesn’t matter to me, because every single time…I’ve learnt. None of them came easily to me, and I know that, throughout my days. It makes me prouder of them, and the mistakes I have made along the way. And, oh boy, have I made some clanger errors.
So, come Spring Day, I’ll be thinking of the new sunshine, marching my kid off to school in her Spring Hat and, well, I’ll be happy. I have new dreams, and new goals I’d like to achieve. I have new projects and fun things to investigate.
But, most importantly, it’s the look on my kid’s face when I can say to her :
“Remember when I said, I’d like to do this…”
and she goes
and I get to say:
“Cool, you can read it now”.
The smile that she gets on her face, as she realises I’ve done something I had told her I wanted to…the idea that is planted in her head that “my mom had a goal, and she achieved it”…That is why I do this.
I write for money, professionally, and I love it. It is the one thing that gives me a sense of purpose and enables me to feel that I can use my talent for good.
But, the thing that makes me breathe, and gets me up every day… is knowing that I’m showing a notsolittle girl that, no matter what life throws at you…you can achieve the things you want to, if you are prepared to work for them. Throw in a big bucket of good friends, a supportive family and ditch the fear of being rejected (you probably will be, quite a few times)
and…you can do just about anything you set your heart on
(and sometimes, if you’re really lucky and work really hard, you’ll get to do the things you didn’t ever expect to).