Six years ago, I was intent on reinventing myself. Rather belatedly I’d decided I would like to be a mother, but was facing the realisation that this is not as easy as we all expect it to be. And I was disillusioned with my life as a career woman. Even though New Zealand’s Governor-General, Prime Minister, Chief Justice, and the CEO of one of our largest companies were all women, my own head was banging firmly and painfully on the glass ceiling in the company where I was working.
I had spent 16 years working in the international arena - government and business. But although I’d had had some amazing experiences and loved moments of what I was doing, I felt taken for granted and was questioning where my future lay. By now it was very definitely work. Of course, more and more you heard people talking about being passionate about their work. I thought passion was for the bedroom, and never thought of finding it in my office with my colleagues. Shudder!
So I began a quest to find out what I should be doing with my life, what I was good at, what I loved. I’m still on that quest, having learned a few things on the way, and dabbled in a range of activities.
Motherhood it turned out was not for me. I suspect I always knew that (but that’s another post for another letter of the alphabet). However I discovered an ability to nurture, advise and help others based on my own brutally honest assessments of my own experiences. I also discovered how tremendously rewarding that was.
I learned I love to paint, and more latterly to write.
Work came to me in unexpected ways, and I became a consultant based on my expertise in working internationally and marketing. I learned I liked to teach, and was good at it. I established a new career as a company director, which has been stressful and crazy and satisfying.
I also established a small business planning travel itineraries. When friends would visit a place I had been I would ask them if they did X, tasted Y or bought Z. They would often say “I wish I could plan my trips like you” or in the case of my sister-in-law “I wish my husband could plan trips like you!” I would plan itineraries for people visiting Bangkok or for friends coming to New Zealand. I think it is best described that if your travel agent is your architect, I am the interior designer. So why not make a business out of it I thought? Unfortunately my consulting work took all my time, and I ended up neglecting my business badly. If it had been a child, I would have been charged with failing to provide the necessities of life and locked up. I haven’t given up on it, but it needs some serious resuscitation.
So here I am, in my mid-40s, I still don’t know what I should be when I grow up. Whilst I enjoy the balance in my life right now – volunteering, consulting, company director and blogger – I know the quest is not yet over. But the quest itself is endlessly fascinating, and maybe that is the point.