I lost something very valuable in the last 10 years and I’m desperately hoping find it again.
My mettle has gone missing and fear has taken its place.
I’m quite horrified at the mouse I’ve become.
Not in the workplace, I still trust my instincts there. I know what people want to read and I know I can write.
But I have absolutely no courage outside the office.
Once upon a time I was so resolute.
I’ve kinda lived my life in reverse. My grandmother would remark “still waters run deep” … I was an old soul in a young body. I hated being a kid, I wanted to be a grown-up as quickly as possible.
The minute I arrived in Sydney, I started saving up to buy my first house. I got it at 26. My ex wasn’t ready for the “responsibility” so I talked my sister into co-signing the mortgage so the bank would give me the money. My ex moved straight in and didn’t leave until 20 years later …
Until I had children, I managed all our finances, paid all the bills, sorted all the taxes, sourced and bought all the properties. I was a DYNAMO.
Now I’m like this meme …
I used to be the adultier adult. I remember wanting to buy a tiny company title apartment in East Sydney. The bank was all oooh aaahhhh eerrrr, we dunno …
They were just waffling and babbling nonsense at me.
I put up with it for a few minutes then I fixed them with a steely gaze and snapped: “Just tell me EXACTLY WHAT I have to do to make an offer on the place this morning.”
The two blokes behind the desk recoiled slightly at my directness and said: “Oh! Right! Well, you need to do this, this and this.”
OK. Thanks. Onto it.
So I bought the bloody place, and sold it again four years later for a handsome profit.
I repeated that pattern many times. I’d buy and sell every few years, usually for substantially more than I paid for it. My ex wasn’t interested in searching for the next potential find, he’d just do the bidding when it was time to seal the deal.
Meanwhile, I climbed the career ladder, scoring a nice pay rise and promotion most years.
And then I was asked to edit Woman’s Day. I approached the job with trepidation, I sensed it was a role too big to end well during a time when circulation was rapidly declining. But I love a challenge, so I took on the dying beast and rode its final wave of popularity during the era when the dreaded Bec Hewitt wedding/Princess Mary/Jennifer Aniston/Oprah combo raised sales to more than 500,000 copies a week again, and the magazine was raking in $40million a year in advertising.
The in-house beauty salon was doing a roaring trade in blow dries and beauty treatments back then, as staff glamorised for the constant whirl of social events and advertiser launches.
When it all began to crumble, I remember one of the finance blokes muttering: “Rome is burning and everyone’s off getting spray tans.”
But no one listened. The spray tanning continued. And the glorious city was gradually reduced to ashes.
No one believed it would ever happen. Nobody prepared for it. ACP even handed Microsoft the rights to all its websites. Like the rest of print media in Australia, it failed to see how comprehensively digital would steal its thunder.
So did I. I barely even looked at womansday.com.au when I was editing the print version.
What was I THINKING?
Sorry, I’ve gone off on a tangent.
It became clear to me just how much I’ve lost the plot when the panic set in about taking the kids to Italy on my own. I was petrified both before and during the trip. I felt palpable relief when I delivered the kids almost in one piece to their dad in Rome. I gasped to him about how terrifying I’d found the responsibility.
WHY did I do that? WHY did I feel that? WHY did I tell HIM that?
What’s happened to me?
The same panic gripped me when DD left me in Singapore. It was just four days in a city where I’d lived for two years, but I felt desolate at the thought of doing it alone.
Since I got back to Sydney I’ve been faced with various renovation decisions and I simply can’t make them. I spent an hour at IKEA and 90 minutes in a lighting shop yesterday and walked away empty handed both times because I was so riddled with uncertainty.
I hate that I’ve lost my “adulting” nerve.
I wonder how I can get it back?
While there are aspects of the closed, controlling, perfectionist old me I DON’T want back, some of that old “I can do ANYTHING” mojo would be sooooo nice.
Aren’t people supposed to become more confident with age, not less?
Song of the day: Neneh Cherry “Buffalo Stance”