I'm not a Mermaid Flight Attendant and that's ok

August 17, 2018

Since Hello Holly (formerly Holly Likes to Cook) has been in hiatus I've been asked a lot "what have you been up to?". The answer isn't a short one really, but ultimately it boils down to:

I have been living.

Since having one of those big life moments last year, when I realized my mental health had taken a bit of a battering postnatally, I have just been living.

Not living it up, and not being entirely down, more like somewhere in the middle. And really, isn't that what many of us really, really want, the middle?

As a child I wanted to be some iteration of a mermaid flight attendant when I grew up; then when I grew up a little bit more and reaslied how hard it would be to be part fish and push the drink trolley my dream idea of being a grown up has something to do with working at a magazine and wearing high heels. There would be shiny offices and glamorous lunches; parties that would require full length sparkly dresses, and New Years Eve would ALWAYS be incredibly fancy.

And then I grew up some more and I was none of those things. I did work in an office, a few offices actually, and they were very nice but not the high gloss and glass confections of my teenage daydreams. I wore high heels but mostly wanted to take them off because my feet hurt; and New Years Eve was only ever once semi fancy... and still involved falling into a hedge.

The thing is, much like my childhood dream of being a mermaid, my teenage one of being a high flying magazine something-ing woman wasn't part of my reality- and thats ok, because as much as I don't actually want to be a mermaid now I'm a grown up, I don't want that other stuff either.

What I actually want is to mostly exist in flat shoes with the occasional pom pom on them; to work very hard every day looking after my family in our not-high-gloss house; and to fall asleep on New Years (and truly, every) Eve before 10 o'clock.

As I snuck past my twenties I had more and more moments of panicking I should do more, be more, hustle harder, lean further in. The irony of it all being that the more you try to be the less you enjoy and appreciate who you are.

For me the turning point was when I didn't just feel like I wasn't enough professionally, it was when I felt like I wasn't enough personally- when my body failed me over and over again at the thing I wanted it to do the most. Even when we finally got there and had our beautiful boys, my mind was so exhausted from feeling at fault for their premature arrival, and the losses of all those before them that the overwhelming intensity of the first year of motherhood with two babes in one go pushed me to the brink.

I'm fortunate to have had all the help I needed to be well and for my family to be well but it was a rough year. Recently we've re-entered that world of frustration and loss, and sad though I am I feel ready to see what happens next, because now I know who I am.

Whilst I can't speak for everyone I speak for myself and many females friends with whom I've had this conversation: I'm now totally ok with what I am now I've grown up; and it's not what I thought I would be.

Rather than not know what I have until it's gone I'm reveling in having a house that's never quite tidy because two small tornados live here; I know that my squashy mummy tummy makes snuggling up to me so much comfier; I don't have a monetary value to apply to the work I do but I'm working harder than I ever have before, and all of that is enough for now. The other stuff will come back in time, if I want it to.

Now I have the wisdom of a grown up I also know that I've still got a whole lot more growing up to do, and chances are that with that will come new things.

If I could choose, those things would be:

-The owning of a perfect capsule wardrobe
-A beautifully organised laundry cupboard
-Time to go to the gym and yoga classes regularly
-A home that has seasonal decor (and if we're getting really fancy) and seasonal fragranced candles

In reality those things will probably be:

-Clothes that are the right size. (the stuff that's the wrong size will be in a bag in the car waiting to be donated)
-a laundry cupboard of any kind
-I'll possibly pay for a gym membership
-A home where the autumnal doorstep pumpkins do not disintegrate and whose seeds do not sprout new pumpkins the following year...

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. I think i'm probably between miles eight and nine. I've got a stitch from running too hard- I didn't quite break an ankle but I twisted it up pretty bad. The next few miles I'm going to worry less about my time and take a slow stroll, I'll catch up a bit later when I've got my breath- right now i'm going to stick with the runners who are in it for the fun of it and know we're all a sweaty mess just trying our best.

Want to know more or talk about what I've written here? I'll be doing an Instagram story about this post and keeping it in my highlights- I'd love to hear your thoughts about our own self image and when the influences of who we are 'supposed to be' come from for you.

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