Thursday, September 8, 2016

Brave New World {+ Why Women are the Best}

On My Way To Work For The First Time In Eight Years.

Hello There You Guys.

It's been a while, no?

It's been a bit tricky to give much (okay, any) time to this space for the last little (okay, long) while because I have gone back to work.

Yep, a few months ago I did my first day of paid work outside the home in eight years.  That's a bloody long time and let me tell you it's not something that I did without a degree of fear, anxiousness and insecurity.

But despite all that it was great.

I (eventually) made the decision to go back to the work I was doing before I had babies - TVC Production.

Amazingly this decision (finally) feels good, right and exciting.  Which is amazing because a couple of years ago when I said no to a potentially great job in that same industry I told myself that my career in that field was over.  The offer was so potentially perfect that I felt if I wasn't going back for that job then I wasn't going back for any job and I ruled a big black line through it and threw all my old work files in the bin and told myself I was done.

I said to my partner "I feel like I've just thrown my career away".  It wasn't a great moment, because at that time I had myself believing that because I wasn't going back to that line of work then the years I had spent working in it somehow didn't count.  Not true, of course, but that's how I felt and that's what I convinced myself of.

For a long time I didn't want to go back to what I was doing.  I thought having left the industry to have kids was a great opportunity to try something new.  Focus on my writing.  Try something around meditation.  I'm still really, really interested in these things and have lots of ideas around them and things I want to do and try.

And for sure the decision to go back to work was a financial one.  We are clear out of money.  Not in an extreme or desperate way, but eight years not working has taken it's toll and it's time to earn some cash.

It has surprised me how this decision, made out of financial necessity has felt so organic and so right.

Having ruled out returning to this kind of work I spent a great deal of time over the last eight years toying with various ideas from not-for-profit to freelance writing, meditation guidance to office management.  I even thought about retail (a bookshop!) or waitressing (like when I was 20!).  However, nothing really sat quite right, felt quite right or worked out.

But as soon as I put a few feelers out about returning to my old gig it's been on like Donkey Kong.  It's been fun and exciting and I've had such support and so much positivity around it - it's just flowed right from the start.  It feels right.  It feels good to be back.  It's like I'm moving in synch with the world around me, and that's a feeling I haven't had for a while.  It also feels liberating, independent and grown up.  I like that about it.  And these are all benefits over and above earning money for the first time in eight years, which is like WOW.  And also the reason I did it in the first place.  It's so interesting that such benefits can come from a decision made seemingly for purely practical reasons.  Not only does earning some money help take the pressure off financially, but not earning money has been hard for me in ways far beyond not being able to afford family holidays or a new couch.  No, not earning my own money had a really negative effect on me in many subtle and often intangible ways.

I've always been an independent person.  I've earned my own money since I was legally allowed to.  At 14 years and 9 months I had my first job in a Pharmacy.  I've always liked not relying on others for the things that I want, not needing to justify my desires or decisions nor needing to seek approval or permission for things.  That quality has been with me since I can remember.  So it came hard to me to not feel like I could access that independence for a while.  Feeling like I couldn't be autonomous in my spending choices.  Feeling like I always had to consider my partner, my children, be sensible, be frugal, be grown up.

I mean not all of this came simply because I was no longer working.  This is all part of being a partnered parent.  I no longer answer only to and for myself, I am responsible to and for other people.  This can be wonderful and can be simple and can be natural.  Sometimes.  But other times it can be stifling, annoying, inconvenient.  It can make me feel tethered, subservient.  It can curtail my sense of independence, of frivolity, spontaneity, of self determination.

I found myself in a position where all of a sudden, with a new baby and no income my sense of independence was cut to it's very core.  Because when you have a new baby your body and your time are no longer your own.  Add to that a feeling of financial dependence and that's one hell of a murky situation.

It's something that has taken me a long time to navigate, to understand, to accept.  To see where my decisions and behaviours led me and to consider what I might like to do differently now that my kids are older and we are all a bit more independent of each other.

Financial independence is only one albeit important aspect of that.  Social and intellectual sovereignty is the other significant piece of that puzzle.

A million working mothers might have told me all this years ago.  But I needed to tread my own path on this one I suspect.  To work out for myself what independence means to me, how I define it, what the core elements are to it, what I can afford to compromise on and what I cannot.

Anyway I'm back at work and it is good.

And the fact that my return to work has (so far - keeping in mind that I'm freelancing which means at any time I could do a days work that might turn out to be my last) been so smooth and abundant has me feeling very grateful.  And has also been almost entirely thanks to the support of some amazing women.

God I have some great friends.  Seriously.  When I decided to go back to work I put in a call to two good friends who I used to work with.  I just thought I'd sound them out, you know, like "What do you think?  What's going on out there?  Is there any room for me to come back in?"  I was SO tentative.  And there's been a real shrinking of the industry since I last worked so I honestly thought they were going to say to me, "Nah, do something else, there's just no work around."  When they didn't I was genuinely shocked and thrilled.  They said the opposite, they said I should do it, they said I'd be great, they said there's always room for good people.  Then they gave me advice on who to contact, looked over my CV, allowed me to shamelessly name drop them when emailing their contacts and even hooked up meetings for me and introduced me to the best and busiest in the industry.  Then they got me jobs.  Seriously.  They mentioned me to people, repeatedly and recommended and basically coerced and cajoled people into using me.  And it worked.  And I am so very grateful.

Also I have had tremendous support from other women, my friends who don't do what I do, who can't influence my trajectory but who have shown interest, support, care, who have boosted my confidence and who have cheered me on.

Fuck women are awesome.  Seriously.  We get a hard wrap in the judgment stakes, especially around motherhood.  But you know what?  I heard terrible stories about how horrid mothers groups can be, then I heard terrible stories about how dreadful the Mummy Mafia in the school playground can be.  And there's always this rumour that women in the workforce are competitive with each other and don't lift each other up.  And I'm sure that is a real and true experience for some women.

But I am here to tell you that is not how it looks to me, that's just not how it looks from here.  From Playgroup to the Playground and now in the arena of the workforce I have been surrounded by the most amazing and supportive women imaginable.  Women who care to look out for each other, who help and support one another, both practically and emotionally.  Women who care about the lives, families, dreams and desires of the women around them.  We perhaps need to tell more stories like that, like this.

I am so lucky and grateful that in my life I have women who I have met in childhood, in adulthood, in motherhood, in the workforce and online who are all so valuable to me.  Women who are all so uniquely and individually funny, charming and mischievous.  Women who are all similarly caring, supportive and reliable.  I feel so blessed to be surrounded by such quality and quietly humbled to count myself among you all.

Thanks Ladies.  Here's to ya.

Do you have amazing women friends?  Give them a shout out in the comments below.

Top Image via One Small Life


  1. So great to read about what's happening for you Kate. Yay!!!
    Ladies ROCK!! What a disservice we do our sex by buying into all the narky, competitive tropes that abound. Yes, there are dropkicks in both gender camps, but far more than that there are wonderful, supportive types around us.

    Here's to you, and your lady squad!

  2. Ah! So much of this resonates for me! So happy you are finding the work that let's you tap into that zone... the accomplishment zone is such fertile soil for confidence! You rock, Lady!

    1. You are RIGHT (as usual!). Such fertile and yet for me, for a long time, neglected soil. Love that this resonated with you Rachel. xx

  3. Brilliant Kate ! So glad to hear you are happy back at work and am sure that you'll be able to work out a balance with all those other things important to you like writing and meditating. Agree wholeheartedly about the importance of a lady tribe - could not do without mine. xxx

    1. Yes, Ing, I agree it may take some time but eventually I will find that balance between family, work and fostering the other things I love and need for myself. I know it's something we all struggle with, but it's worth the effort for sure. And YAY for ace women! xx

  4. Congrats on the foray back to your career! That's so wonderful. I too have found nothing but support amongst the sisterhood and I think the bad wrap is mostly media generated.

    1. Thanks Robyna! Yes, I wonder that too - is it just the constant need for conflict in stories? Because it could not be further from my experience. I feel so lucky! xx

  5. Lovely post. Going back to work is liberating I think. Freelancing is hard, but it also means you can dip in and out of your old life as Mum and pre-Mum, as you. And friends, good friends are the best. On Sunday I'm heading of to Sydney with a friend who I met though my daughter's school - like you, I was a bit scared of the 'school mums' but five years on and some of them are up there with with my school friends. We are going to Sydney to drink champagne, go to the Frida Kahlo exhibition and the Archibald exhibition. Escaping from work life, escaping from Mum life!

    1. Thanks for the comment Collette! Going back to work as definitely been liberating for me, and yes Freelancing is tricky, but the benefits can be great too. Great friends ARE the best and I'm like you - I've made some superb one through my kids via kinder and school. I hope you had a brilliant weekend with yours. I look forward to hearing about the Frida Kahlo exhibition - would LOVE to see that. xx

    2. Why don't you come and visit Frida's house and museum in Mexico Kate?!

    3. Aha! I would LOVE that!! I have actually been there a couple of times, many years ago and it was a wonderful, wonderful experience. x

  6. I loved reading this post Kate. Your positive energy is just bursting out of it. So great that you have chosen to return to the workforce when it suits you and that you have been welcomed with open arms.I've been reflecting on the independence/ finance issue lately so I enjoyed your thoughts on this too. All the best with the juggle. Emily x

    1. Wow - thanks Emily. I have certainly been very lucky and am feeling very grateful. For sure the independence/ finance issue is an interesting one to ponder - and I hope your reflections lead you to even more positive spaces. Thanks for the lovely comment. :)

  7. Kate so true! I get frustrated about hearing how competitive women/mothers are. In my experience the women in my life absolutely sustain me. They are relentless in their support, love and encouragement and I alway get excited and full-hearted when I think of all my amazing friends. It's like having a bunch of bloody warriors to go in to bat for me sometimes! Women absolutely rock. And so does going back to work. I am not there yet but it's encouraging to hear you did it after a long break too. x

    1. Amy! So wonderful to see you here - thank-you for commenting. I agree and you have written it so beautifully - the idea that our women friends sustain us, I love that. I look forward to hearing about your back to work adventures when they happen in the meantime it's great just following your Central American experience unfold! xx