I went upstairs a couple of hours ago to see my mum watching a video on Facebook.
“This is yours,” she said.
Mine? I hadn’t made a video. Watching it, I saw a request from a family who seem perfectly lovely for a nanny/homeschool teacher to travel around the world with them for a year.
An incredible opportunity, right?
A friend of mine had tagged me in the link and my mum was actively encouraging me to apply. They very sweetly thought of me and quite innocently suggested I take a look.
A suggestion my brain chose to interpret as … an expectation.
I spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about being a good person, which when I’m alone and think about it properly, basically comes down to three personal rules:
- Be Kind
- Be Brave
- Work Hard
But when other people enter the equation, these three rules frequently crumble under the weight of mostly imagined EXPECTATION.
Before she showed me this video, I was cheerfully applying for various transcription and editing jobs online, and had just started reading an article on being a freelance writer. I was thoroughly content, looking forward to writing my poem for the day, feeling grateful for the acres of freedom in my days right now.
Then I saw the video, and my mum wanted me to apply, so I did. Most of the way. I mean, it did sound nice. Everyone likes traveling, right? And the job is watching three kids and helping them with school. Everyone likes kids, right?
But the further I got into the application process, the more I began to wonder why I was doing this. Their simple questions were not bringing out my best side.
Post an Instagram video introducing yourself. Ugh, I have to make an Instagram account?
What would make you a good homeschool teacher? I’ll be honest with you. A bug just landed on my notebook and I was more excited to spend time with it than with your preschooler.
Your dream travel destination? Not sure I have one. I don’t think about traveling much. Except Disneyworld. I could LIVE at Disney.
The clincher was when I saw how many hits the video had. About 6 million. Let me say that again: Six Million People. The family has received thousands and thousands of applications. I closed the page. There was no way in hell I’d be able to stand out among all those people.
It wasn’t self-deprecation or false modesty. I know I have talents and skills, and I believe I can do just about anything I set my mind to. But I knew I wasn’t right for this job. I’m a hard worker and when I’m invested in something, I am more than capable of putting my nose to the grindstone and getting it done. Here the idea of taking the three seconds to sign up for an Instagram account was giving me pause.
I’m supposed to want to travel though.
But I’m happy where I am. And I don’t really want to sit on crowded buses and planes, away from the comfort of my own bed and a deep bathtub.
I’m supposed to like working with kids.
In the past I’ve liked it but in a lot of respects I preferred working fast food. Kids are great and I love hanging out with them, as long as I’m not required to come up with lesson plans or take them home with me.
A large part of my journey seems to be releasing who I think I should be and embracing who I really am.
So who am I, really? What do I actually want?
- My favourite part of the day right now is getting up at 7am to do yoga.
- I enjoy doing the dishes. Seriously.
- I love helping out my parents.
- I’ve been at my happiest working minimum wage jobs that I can leave at the door to go write poetry.
- I would WAY rather hang out with animals than children.
- I’d rather live in a cottage alone in the woods for three months than backpack across Europe.
Whew. Feels good to get that off my chest.
All I want for the next few months is to make time to write, read, meditate, do yoga (or another form of exercise), spend time with my family, and get a low-paying online job to attempt to cover rent. That is so enough for me. In fact, it sounds like heaven.
So why am I struggling to say to people, “Actually I don’t think I’m the girl for that, but thank you for thinking of me”?
I just don’t want to let them down. But that’s becoming a lame excuse, when the alternative is letting me down. I have to learn to honour how I’m actually feeling, not what I think I should be feeling. I’ve seen so many times how forcing yourself to feel what you don’t can go wrong, often with heart-breaking consequences.
Next time I feel that fear-based shudder, that weight of expectation, I hope I remember myself enough to go for a walk, and ask: “If they supported me regardless, what would I do?”
Because in my experience, 99% of the time, they just want you to be happy.
The seductive sigh of solitude,
a morning curled into soft fleece
with a pencil nested in the groove
of my fingers –
P.S. I now have an Etsy store up and running, in an attempt to raise a bit of money for The Humane League, and express my creativity at the same time. Check it out if you’re interested. Thank you very much