I don’t know how much ambition I should have. I used to feel like a cool kid, walking into my super cool workplace and working with cool brands and getting paid well and still having a good work/life balance . . . I used to read stuff like Lean In and mentally punch the air, “Yeah! I’m not gonna step back in ambition if I have babies! I’m not gonna start pulling away from work when I haven’t even started maternity leave! I will remember to still push for a promotion before I leave, and go on a high note, so that I can jump back in – after a baby – more advanced!”
Then I realised I didn’t like the work I was doing. And I quit and started freelancing, and as a freelancer, there wasn’t a way to “lean in,” and there weren’t any promotions available. And I got pregnant and had the baby and experienced an astounding lifestyle shock and I thought, “Wow, I’m glad I didn’t have this baby straight after that fast-paced full-time work. I’m glad I gradually slowed down. My lifestyle shock could have been so much worse.”
And then I spent my days looking after the baby, and with my family – mum, dad, brother, sister – and with my partner/best friend in the mornings/evenings/weekends – doing the simplest of things: sitting in the back garden, in the sun, having long talks; sharing meals together; playing games together; walking to the library and the park and spending time outside together – and I thought, “Some people get to retirement and finally slow down enough to do all this, and they say: ‘It’s so dumb that we do this when we’re old.’ I feel so lucky being able to experience this slow-down, this miniature retirement, in the middle of my life.”
And then I wonder, so how ambitious do I feel now? I see desperate requests at the community centre and the toy library (both are fantastic organisations) for leaders, committee members, and volunteers, and I think, “I could do a really good job with that,” but also, “Oh no you don’t! I don’t want to fall into that trap – it’s a role that the community needs, but it’s the type of role that women get sucked into after becoming mums, and they get paid nothing (which isn’t on), and loads of other people could be doing a good job with that and feel passionate about it, whereas I feel like I could potentially put myself to use doing something those people wouldn’t/couldn’t do.”
So then I’m working on a small business idea and I wonder, “Am I thinking too small with this? Am I just scared and too intimidated to think big?” And I listen to a Creative Mornings podcast with the guest Sarah Hernholm, who talks about doing “whatever it takes” – to make a difference, to make something happen, to make a big dream come true – and I think again about my small business idea: “Gosh, I am so not doing ‘whatever it takes’! I’m not putting my all into this. I’m treating it casually, like a side project. Why? – Because I’m afraid of failing? Because I don’t want to lose money on it? Because I don’t even know how much I believe in the idea? Because I’m scared of negativity and meanness? Because I’m lazy? Why?”
. . . I don’t know. So far I have only spent about $100 (and a lot of my time, and my business partner’s time) to get the MVP out the door. I do feel like I’m holding myself back.
Another comment in the podcast was: Who do you spend your time with? Are they people who encourage you or dissuade you? (Paraphrased.)
It’s a prompt I’ve read a bunch of times before – that, and the concept of needing to find your “tribe” or find your peers – the people who have the same values and similar goals as you, who will support, encourage and inspire you.
And I wonder . . . I wonder if I could find more people who are striving for something more. If I was surrounded by them, would I be more “all in”? Could I get to a point where I feel like I’m putting something on the line for this? All of my side projects have been low risk. Is it just my personality to make them low risk? Is it just smart and practical to make them low risk? (At least at the beginning!) Where do I find people who want something more, to try out my theory? Question mark? Are you my real mother? Who framed Roger Rabbit? Ssshhh.