Dreaming at 29

I turn 30 next year and it has suddenly dawned on me why age has mattered so much to me. When I was in my teens I dreaded having a teenager myself, not because I was so unruly as a teen (I hope!) but because I thought I would be jealous of their youth and the life moments they had yet to experience.

But it has only just dawned on me that it has never been their age and experiences in and of themselves that I would be jealous of – I know and am happier with myself now than I ever have been and I don’t particular want to re-live ‘growing up’. It is the naive dreaming and the world lying in front of them and the NEW experiences that I realised I never wanted to lose. The joy in this realisation is that while you can’t stop time from passing, you CAN keep dreaming and having new experiences!

So I’m starting now. Before I even turn 30. Because it’s never too late to start dreaming again.

Defining ‘grown-up’

When I was younger, I thought that being a grown-up meant:

  1. Being old (i.e. over 18)
  2. Being married
  3. Having kids
  4. Liking olives

As soon as I turned 18, I realised I was not a grown-up. As soon as I got married, I realised I was not a grown-up. I frequently tell my mother that I want to be as wonderful and beautiful as she is when I’m grown up.

Perhaps one day if and when we have kids, I may then consider myself a grown-up. I doubt I’ll ever like olives so by that definition I will be forever young. But there are two things of late that are making me seriously wonder whether I may actually be transitioning into the state of being grown-up and they are two things I would never have considered as part of my definition:

  1. Considering a holiday in Great Britain
  2. My tastebuds, every once in a while, actually preferring savoury to sweet

I had a very privileged upbringing with parents who were determined that I should see the world. We travelled a lot and we had incredible holidays that weren’t what my friends considered the norm. When my friends spent two weeks on a beach in Spain, I was travelling across South Africa and America or exploring Dubai and Saudi Arabia. I love to learn, I adore travelling and in my snobbish mind, a holiday always required water to be crossed in some form.

Yet I’m beginning to appreciate that a holiday is about refreshment, not just sunshine and new experiences. A holiday is about making memories but that isn’t dependent on foreign shores. I’m starting to consider a long weekend in Stratford-upon-Avon and even possibly a week in Cornwall. That may be because we’ve already had two weeks in Hawaii this year and I’m off to Berlin with work next week, but the fact that the thought has even crossed my mind to take annual leave, spend time somewhere in Great Britain and actually classify it as a holiday, is to me a sign that I may potentially be almost a grown-up.

The change in my tastebuds is more worrying. Forever a chocoholic, there have been occasions in the past few months where I have actually turned down chocolate and have even favoured a savoury snack (or fruit!) instead of my beloved cocoa treat. I can think of no other explanation for this concerning development than the fact that I am now a grown-up. If anyone can offer me an alternative explanation, I would gratefully hear it.

Following in the footsteps

My childhood was peppered with events, communication and travel. It is my father’s profession and it has become mine – out of my own choice I hasten to add. From the first moment I was given a small responsibility at a conference in Africa, the adrenalin of production filled my being, the rush of effective communication flooded my soul and I knew that one day, when I was grown up, I would follow in my father’s footsteps.

Through events and communication, I have an inroad to making an impact. There are so many channels that this career path can be funnelled into and I love the variety and potential it holds. The opportunities it presents are numerous and the idealist in me hopes that one day, I can use it to make a real difference in the world.

So it was with great joy that I got a chance to work with my father again this past week. He was running an event and needed a couple of extra hands on the night with production and hosting. The event was effortless, relaxing, slick and perfectly executed – a testament to his decades of experience in the sector. But it also served as  a reminder to me of all that he has taught me over the years. From small nuggets of practical advice (always hold the wire down when you pull gaffa up) to more technical instruction about AV equipment, I was finally useful to him in my own right. All that he has passed onto me has become part of my knowledge and it was so wonderful to be able to work with him as a professional not just as his daughter.

I know that I am not my father and I don’t aspire to be. I don’t have his experience yet and we both have our own ways of working. But following in his footsteps doesn’t mean I have to be a mini-him. He didn’t want to recreate his own dreams in me, he just walked with me to discover my own way of doing things and gave me some great advice along the way.

I’m proud to share the same profession as my father. His footsteps are worth treading in.

Changing character

ISFJ head and stress

It’s been a while since I wrote in my little corner of this seemingly infinite web space. It has been a pretty intense rollercoaster of a six months and too many of my thoughts were simply too raw, too unprocessed, to publish. In a relatively short space of time, I have learned so much about people and about relationships. I have learned an incredible amount about what it means to love and be loved. I have experienced situations I never thought I would encounter personally and I have come through them – not completely just yet but I’m certainly on my way to a lighter place.

In the process, I have discovered that the change in me is more apparent than I had thought. Many pay little attention to personality tests, the likes of Myers Briggs, but I find them useful in understanding myself and in understanding others, in order to bring out the best of both.

When I was first prompted to take the Myers Briggs test around five years ago, I was an ESTJ. I sat firmly in the category of someone who was logical, factually thinking, often quite opinionated, mostly unemotional and usually direct. If you wanted something from me, you would need to persuade me with sound and logical argument that it made good sense, before I would acquiesce.

After getting married, I changed fairly quickly to become an ISTJ. As my character developed, I placed an increasingly high value on time with myself, to process my thoughts, to understand the ‘why’ not just the ‘how’ and simply to be still. My husband is a very strong introvert and no doubt that has had a marked impact on who I am. Both of us are fairly confident, especially when it comes to public speaking, but to recharge, we are happiest in small groups, with each other, or even on our own. I still was very logical in my thinking but I had learned to be a better listener and not always feel the need to offer my opinion.

I took the Myers Briggs test again this past week and lo and behold, I am now an ISFJ. Slowly but surely, my character is leaning towards the simpler, more empathetic priorities in life. I am very quick to hold my tongue now, I consider the impact of my words before they are spoken, I listen more than I speak and the character trait in me that was so quick to step forward and lead has taken a step back, enabling those around me to take more ownership of their own paths, instead of being directed solely by mine.

I am still endlessly logical, organised and detail-focused and I can’t honestly see myself changing in either the ‘S’ or ‘J’ categories. I should also clarify that the point of these designations is not to pronounce a better or worse character, but rather to emphasise difference in character. The beauty of understanding personality is that we can learn to complement one another instead of antagonise, so that the weaknesses of one are overcome by the strengths of another.

We all change over time, but the circumstances of the past six months have brought about a change that is far more visible in the way I interact with people. I’m intrigued to see how that has an impact beyond the confines of relationships, especially as the new year approaches.