How did I get here?

I was asked recently (corporate context) to tell my story – so my colleagues  would learn more about me outside of work. About how I got to where I am, about my beliefs and values. About me. I was third in line to tell my story and I had it set in my head what my story would be. Then the two people in front of me told their story – they did the chronological thing. My panic started to rise, my anxiety started to rear its ugly head, and I checked my story with a colleague while we had a break. ‘Go for it,’ she said. So, I did. This is my story.

First a little bit about me, through my own eyes.

I’m a raging introvert. For those playing at home, I’m an INFJ which is apparently very rare, but I know of three other INFJs who I am close to… they could be my kindred spirits. At the very least, I know we have connection, an understanding, a sense of pride that we are the diamonds in the rough.

I’m a big sister, an aunt, a daughter, a niece, a cousin, a friend, a colleague. And I love being all of these.

I’m a single mum. And she is my joy. She is the happiness in my day. Despite all the complaints I put out there about how much of a turd she is, she is spectacular.

I have the mouth of a sailor, and I love 90s, grunge music.

Actually, I love all music – I can’t wait to brag to Kalee about the acts I have seen live. It’s the one thing I’ll spend a gazillion dollars on.

I lie. I love to spend money on a lot of things.

I like to write. I fiddle around on my blog, but I have countless journals dotted around my house and in my space, because I always want to grab some paper and just write. I don’t know if I’m any good at it, but I like it.

I was always average. Never excellent, but never shit. Always good. At school, at what I look like, at the sports I played. Maybe if I tried harder, I’d be better, but I feel like I did the best that I could. I was always average. And that’s OK.

I love sport. I love watching it, I love playing it. Team sports, not solo. For a raging introvert, I need to be around people a lot of the time (hello INFJ). Playing team sports also meant I couldn’t get out of things as easy as I could if it was just me who I was letting down.

I’m am ambassador for the OCRF, which means I attend people’s functions and speak (worst nightmare) and I also raise money. I’ve raised about $40,000 thanks to my amazing support network.

So, how did I end up here, where I am today? A lot of people have had an influence on me being here, being me.

My Year 8 English teacher – the person you can all blame for my insistence that the English language be treated with love and attention, and for this blog, because he was the first person who believed in me and my writing. He was also the first person to make it OK for me to go forth and correct all grammar. You’re welcome.

My first corporate affairs boss – I had no right being the Editor of a 32-page glossy six months after joining an organisation. He believed in me and took a chance on me. He taught me so much and allowed me to grow. He also was the first person to introduce me to corporate affairs and communications. I owe my entire career to him.

The Bear – the person who came into my life just when I most needed to look at myself. It was around the time my sister died and I was in danger of retreating way too far, due to not being happy in my job or, if I’m honest, my relationship. She was the first person to make me complete a ‘Myers Briggs’ and the first person who unapologetically called me out on me. Recently she sent me an email with the subject title: ‘The main problem with you’. The content? YOU EXPRESS YOUR NEGATIVE EMOTIONS AND KEEP YOUR POSITIVE EMOTIONS HIDDEN … IS IT A CRIME TO BE HAPPY AND SHOW IT? Yes, it was in caps – she had a point to make and she was going to make it. Not only did the message hit home, but she knew I’d be pissed at the punctuation and caps lock. Double whammy. Well played. She continuously makes me look at myself, whether I like it, or not. She is an ongoing influence on me as a friend, as a colleague, as a stand in granny to my baby. And I wouldn’t have her any other way.

My girlfriends – from the principal, to the operations shift worker, to the senior manager in government, to the mining engineer, to the chef, to the woman who I wish I could swap lives with, to the superstar who just beat breast cancer (and has the most delightful rack now). And the many others I am grateful to have in my life. They keep me grounded, they help me raise my child. They show me what it is to have your own community around you and they tell me what I need to hear, when I need to hear it. Good and bad. But, for a lot of my twenties I had my head firmly jammed up my arse. It wasn’t until my 30s that I actually realised what I meant to them. And when things turned bad at the end of that decade, there were no other people I wanted enveloping me than those women. They are amazing. They are my tribe and I love them hard.

My brother and sisters – the ones who keep me even. Although one of them is no longer with us, there was, and is, no stronger bond between four people. They reminisce with me when I need to be in that frame of mind, and look forward with me when I need that even more. The cluster that has been our lives the past few years have brought us closer. There are no two other people whose silence means as much as their words. They are the only two people who know what it is like to walk in my shoes and I would do anything for them, as I know they would do for me. And my daughter loves them just as much as I do.

Lastly (yes Kalee has influenced me, and so did my Dad, but sorry guys, you don’t make the cut!), there’s my Mum – the quiet achiever, who taught me resilience.

When Dad died, so did she. It was a short eight months. She was done.When she died I held her hand and wished her well, I was strangely happy for her. One of the last things she said to me was that my Dad was waiting for her; she needed to go to him.

Her resilience until this point was nothing short of amazing. She kept going through things that would make me buckle at the knees; time and time again, and never, ever did an ‘oh my life sucks’ attitude overcome her. She was poised, balanced and wonderfully strong through so, so much…

Of course, I wondered how the fuck I would be able to make it without her – but deep down I knew. I knew I had her resilience and I knew I had her lessons in my head and I knew would be OK. Because she made me that way.

Mum’s resilience is the biggest influence on my life. I hope that one day the way I show up will be an inspiration to Kalee. That she will understand she can do anything. That she will know that she comes from a long line of strong, determined, capable women. I am determined she will know all about her Granny and the grace, dignity and strength that has been passed down to her.

I somehow think she might already know.

“I hold that a strongly marked personality can influence descendants for generations.”
― Beatrix Potter

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