Over the time we have been in lockdown, I realised something pretty big about myself and it actually made me feel incredibly sad.
Isn’t it funny how this unprecedented (meh… sick of that word) period in our lives gave space for thoughts and reflection and therefore big feelings? Yikes, to be honest with you at times mine were heavy and yuck. But all were worthy and required to move on with the next phase of my life. You see I have been in autopilot for 5 years. I can say that now. I couldn’t a couple of months ago. Thanks CovidMan… you sure know how to give an individual a boot up the ass.
From the moment I decided to leave my safe government job to pursue a career in my passion for working online all those years ago, I consistently forgot to make time for myself and gave priority to ‘working for others’ over creating for the love of creating. Essentially I gave my best work to clients. Most thanked me for it. Some never appreciated it. Others become lifetime friends and my personal mentors in my business so not all has been lost.
Being so absorbed in my work seemingly made me happy. Going to work everyday doing something I loved was easy. Giving my everything always was even easier. I just loved it all. I over delivered, under charged and rode out the stress of that behind positivity and a smile.
Fast forward to Monday March 23 2020. The writing was on the wall with Covid19. We were heading to lockdown. The evening prior I had assisted a client to write a well crafted social media post announcing she was closing her business for the safety of her staff and clients prior to government restrictions. This would be the first of many announcements I would write that week. Some with tears in my eyes as job losses were imminent and very obviously our services would no longer be required. While I stayed positive for my team and clients I was seriously dying inside.
Very simply, my identity was tied to my livelihood. I had ridden out the stressful times, the successful times, the times when shit clients emailed demands that were nothing short of ridiculous, the times when invoices were months late and I struggled to pay my people but most of all I had survived and at the end of the day that as far as I am concerned, that is what defined me as an employer, partner, mother, daughter, sister and friend. It was entirely who I was.
When I was a single mum my work was the gateway to a better life for the kids and myself. I always believed one day the struggles of keeping startup hours would pay off for me and the kids. I would enjoy nice holidays with them. I would sleep better without worrying about where the next project would come from and I would just enjoy the kids instead of constantly being distracted with earning to keep a roof over our head. The definition of me simply meant workaholic who liked a glass of wine and packet of wagon wheels with a serving of netflix late at night… minutes before I closed my eyes.
For weeks after lockdown, I seemed to roll from one day to the next full of fear and sadness and an overwhelming feeling I didn’t’ actually know myself anymore. And more than anything I was a failure and it was frightening to imagine what would be next.
No longer alone and with the support of a loving partner and family, there was no better time to have an existential crisis. (insert eye-roll if you need, its fine.. I am extremly done with the self wallowing myself)
So the journey back to who I used to be started…look out world.
When I was employed in that non-creative government role I had mastered the art of switching off after hours mostly and happily dabbled in my love of creating. Mostly writing and design. When I was with my family, I was very much with my family. When I was at work I was there to do my job and serve. Easy. This is what I have been dreaming of having back. Maybe not the government job, but the ability to create again without feeling blocked by commercial projects.
A couple of weeks ago I was able to catch up with another creative friend for a coffee meeting. The meeting was also a cheeky way to get into the art gallery where she works and see an exhibition I had missed viewing due to restrictions. Sitting in the closed gallery with evidence of others own creative freedoms around us, we spoke about how Covid19 restrictions had forced us all to reassess what we are doing and how we are doing it.
I spoke of how the forced time without work had hit a nerve with me and I was feeling the pull to start creating for myself again. I even told her I was considering starting an online blog/magazine/shop and she smiled. My friend shared with me how she had spent 7 years not painting and how never again would she let a career get in the way of her creativity. If there was ever an in-balance in her life again, and the job started to leave no space for her creating then the job had to go. That is how important being creative is to her. Hearing her say this gave me some relief. They were life-changing words actually.
[Addit: This is also the friend you turn to when shit is going down…she basically has a list of what you need to do before you have finished crying in her hankie, so her words are always listened to intently]
A New Life Order
Right now I feel immensely sad that I have spent the last 5 years dedicated to a career that vanished almost entirely in one day due to Covid19. Mostly because in those 5 years my kids grew up fast. As a family, we had gone through some terrible times and maybe I threw myself into work instead of just nurturing them or myself. The guilt of that is going to hang about for a fair while I think. So now is the time to quit doing all the extra hours, all the extra tasks for others, and being the everything social media barks at me to be successful….Switch off at 5pm be present with my family and allow myself time to create again. Aka. Chase kids to bath and bed, share a wine with my partner in crime and then sit down and start typing some shiz for the internet or creating something pretty.
So welcome to Hey Girlfriend
Now let me introduce you to Hey Girlfriend… a bloggy magazine that is a tribute to not only my creative space but all the girlfriends I plan on meeting along the way.
Where did the name come from you might ask? Well it is a little joke between my friend who is also my nail lady. Whenever I visit to have my nails done, she says Hey Gurrrrrlfriend. And then we sit and laugh and chat and discuss in great depths our feelings on certain situations. Al while she creates my pretty nails.
Like other online spaces I have owned in the past, I am more than happy to have guest writers, people to interview, products to review or stories and events to share, so drop me a line. If you know me in real life, you will also know I am privy to shit humour and a little ranty at times so let that be a warning to anyone who might be thinking Hey Girlfriend is going to be all professional and polished.
So, hello my name is Gayel. I like to create stuff online. I also love designing things for no particular reason and I will never again give up doing that.