When three became one

Don’t worry, I haven’t got the title of that Spice Girls song incorrect, I’m referring to how I used to have three bridesmaids, and now I only have one!

I never thought I would have a problem with three of my closest friends, who I’ve grown up with since high school. We’ve seen each other move into different careers and had highs and lows in our personal lives, but we’ve grown into women who have made a success of their lives. So when I asked all three of them to be my bridesmaids, I thought the plans for the wedding would be a breeze with their help on my side. How wrong I was!

It’s turned out to be one of the most difficult aspects of the whole day and I’ve become increasingly more anxious and concerned about it. It all started when two of them had a falling out. Now this happened before I asked them to commit to being a bridesmaid but they both agreed they would be amicable for the sake of one day. Alas, this was not to be. It’s turned into childlike behaviour with little digs and comments about each other to me. They haven’t dealt with it themselves and instead are playing me as the middle man.

Where it went wrong

It all came to a head when one of them arranged a second hen do and purposefully left out the other, so she felt excluded. The excluded one then came to me and expressed her anxiety at the situation and bowed out of bridesmaid duties. I understood her concerns but still felt something different could have been done. She’s not tried to work it out with the other bridesmaid and hasn’t put much effort into making sure I feel less stressed about the whole situation.

Due to this derailment I didn’t feel right having the other one as a bridesmaid, who had ultimately caused this drama by her own actions. So I told her how I felt and that I would be removing her from duties. This didn’t go down too well, but ultimately she understood.

Shouldn’t we be grown-ups?

Now why, at the age we are (mid-thirties), has this happened? I’ve spoken in previous blogs about how this is the one day when a bride should be able to have things her way, but I’m now left in a situation that isn’t what I wanted. I have one very committed bridesmaid, who completely understands how I feel, but I’m left disappointed with two people who I thought could pull themselves together for just one day. I never thought organising a wedding would cause so many dramas but now I’ve had time to process the mess I’m left with five months before the big day, I feel a sense of relief. I now don’t have to worry about the two of them staying in the same room the night before the wedding, I don’t have to worry about any awkward meetings with them leading up to the big day and thankfully I don’t have to worry about them ‘working’ together on the day itself.

Moving forwards

It may have taken a major falling out and some harsh words, but there are bigger and better things to be worrying about than a petty falling out between two people who can’t get on for the sake of one of their best friends. I’ve got enough on my plate, talking of plates, I still need to put the order in for my chocolate wedding cake – I’ll definitely need it!

Enjoy what you have, not what you think you should have!

My memories of primary school and high school have been repressed, not because I didn’t make great friends (eventually I did), but because I hated the whole routine of going from class to class, having to spend time reading countless books that bore no interest to what I actually wanted to do in life. I realise now I was suffering from anxiety at the prospect of change and trying out new things – something which isn’t taught in school. I never knew what I wanted to be in life and would draw a blank when asked in lessons. There was a huge amount of emphasis put on what career you were going to do, however because I didn’t know, I felt I had no aim or direction and was just studying for the sake of it.

As soon as I was able to study something I was interested in, I did so, via my degree at an agricultural college. I got my degree but didn’t sail through it like I thought I would. Again this was down to the set routine of how information is taught. It’s like drill work, sit in a classroom, listen, contribute, go home and study more, come back and sit your exams. It wasn’t how I liked to do things and as soon as I got out of that routine I started to develop my own career ambitions.

Seeking a new direction

An opportunity arose and I decided to relocate and forge my way onto a new path by joining the media industry. I was working for a magazine that related to my degree and developed new skills in writing through this avenue. I then progressed to write more serious content, which was in the interest of the public, before moving to the charity sector. I’m currently waiting to start a new role, again in the public sector, which is something that pushed my skills to the limit, but was highly rewarding. I feel I’ve bounced from job to job, with gaps of freelance work in the middle and was starting to get down about not finding one job that I was committed to for the rest of my life.

Losing my way

Throughout all the moves I’ve always felt under intense pressure to succeed and push myself to new heights. By thinking like this I have never said no at work, always taken on more tasks than I should and put too much thought into trying to progress on to the next ring of the ladder. However, what I’ve failed to notice is how happy I’ve been in the roles I have had. I don’t always have to seek out a promotion; sometimes the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence. I’m now working with a new mind set and realising that it doesn’t matter if someone gains a promotion before me, what matters is whether I’m happy with my work, life balance.

The word promotion isn’t just about exceeding in work, it also relates to your personal life. We base so much on our careers, probably down to what we’re taught in school, but ultimately we’ve got to enjoy our life outside of work just as much, if not more. That’s the whole reason why we work. Isn’t it supposed to be we work to live, not we live to work?

Doing nothing isn’t always a bad thing

I’m now starting to enjoy the freedom I have, without thinking it’s wasted time, while I wait to start my new role. It doesn’t matter if someone is gaining more experience than me right now, I’m happy where I am and will start to re-engage my brain when I head in for my first day. Right now I’m enjoying the time I have to explore and relax.

Be more dog

We can learn so much from dogs, I can’t think of one thing a dog does that isn’t filled with love or care towards anyone it meets. What about aggressive dogs I hear you cry, or those who don’t listen and do what they want? But think about it; were they like this when they were born? No, any behaviour you see, good or bad, is directly influenced by their owner and some breeds have an unfair reputation because of this.

I have a Rottweiler cross Staffordshire bull terrier, which if you believed what you read in the papers, would make him sound like one of the most aggressive dog combinations in the world. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth, he’s the biggest wimp and doesn’t even hurt flies – he likes following them round the room but doesn’t know what to do when one lands in front of him on the floor. Staffies were originally bred as nanny dogs to look after children, which explains why my one is so good around children and adapts his behaviour so well. Nothing like the image that’s portrayed online or in the news – brought about from a particular type of person who has previously acquired and adorned them with spiked collars to make them look menacing.

Why do we judge anything based on what we read in an article? Dogs don’t read so why do we base so much of our lives on what other people are doing? Be more dog – live your own life!

Dogs are awesome

Altruism is a word I would never put in the same sentence with the word human – I just don’t think it’s possible for a person to be truly altruistic. There will always be a reason why they are helping someone else, whether it’s to make the local paper for a bit of fame, or to make themselves feel good. However, dogs are the definition of altruism. They would do anything for anyone and can sense so much that us mere humans can’t, from fear to cancer – they are amazing. Be more dog, think of others!

When anyone arrives at the house my dog greets them with open arms, regardless of their age, looks, nationality, previous history – he doesn’t judge and accepts anyone. There’s just one simple rule to this statement and that is the person has to show just a bit of kindness to him. Something that us humans so easily forget about, but is one of the best things in the world to do. Be more dog – be kind.

Let it go

People are very good at holding on to grudges and resenting those around them who have caused them to make them feel like that. Think about what a dog does if someone shouts at them or pushes them to the side. They go straight back to how they were and don’t take offence in any way. They let it swoop over their heads as they don’t understand how to hold a grudge. My dog had a bad start to life, but we were lucky enough to rehome home him after he was rescued by a local charity. He should mistrust and hate humans but he doesn’t. Plus life’s way too short! Be more dog – forgive often.

Appreciating the small things in life

Right now the world seems to be more frantic than ever, and life can pass you by so quickly you’ll wonder what happened. Reading online stories and watching the headlines every morning is something of a ritual for many people, however what would happen if you didn’t do this every day and instead concentrated on your own life and surroundings?

I was getting wrapped up in all the political negativity and uncertainty surrounding Britain and failed to notice what was directly in front of me. The other day I was paying for a parking ticket but was getting annoyed when I realised I didn’t have enough change. A woman was stood waiting behind me and not only offered me what I said I was short by, but checked to make sure I didn’t need anything else. That simple act of kindness started the ball rolling on expanding my faith in humanity.

The next day someone commented on how well I’d trained my dog and said that if I ever needed a new home for him she would take him in a heartbeat. She didn’t need to say anything nice to me or even talk to me in the first place, but she took the time out of her day to interact and again my spirits were lifted.

Faith in humanity

Next time you see an ambulance, police car or fire engine drive down the road with its sirens blaring, watch how many drivers automatically make room for it to pass and continue on its way to saving someone’s life. Yes, you could argue that it’s the law to move and we’re all taught that in our driving lessons, but still not everyone abides by the law and yet I have never seen anyone intentionally hold up an emergency services vehicle. How great is that? In comparison, I recently travelled to India and the police had to wait in line until others had driven down the road, there was no making way for them, so it really made me appreciate how we are in this country.

One reason why I think we forget to appreciate the little things is because of our ever increasing standards. We expect more and more and forget no one really has to do anything for us. When you walk in to a shop the staff don’t have to greet you, but many do, so we expect that everywhere. When you’re carrying heavy bags and someone helps you, remember they don’t have to do that. Those bags are your responsibility not theirs so be grateful someone has given you some of their own time.

Give someone your own time

Ask yourself, when was the last time you offered to help, or just started talking to someone because you’re genuinely interested in how they are? During the 40 days of lent why not set yourself a challenge – try and do one nice thing a day that you wouldn’t normally do. Ask someone how they are, buy someone a coffee just because you thought of them or send someone a hand written letter. Lent isn’t just about giving something up, it’s also about thinking of others, and right now our society needs that more than ever.

Nobody’s perfect

People pleasing is in my nature and however good it makes me feel when I can meet someone’s demands, it’s also extremely draining on my emotions. I’ve noticed this more recently and having to say no to someone is something I dread. However is it really that bad to think of yourself?

I put so much pressure on myself to be the best I can be and portray a squeaky clean image, that it’s now starting to make me anxious and worry about running out of time to do what I want to do.

The other day I saw a great reminder of how to protect your own energy. It said:

It’s okay to cancel a commitment.
It’s ok to not answer a call.
It’s okay to change your mind.
It’s okay to want to be alone.
It’s okay to take a day off.
It’s okay to do nothing.
It’s okay to speak up.
It’s okay to let go.

This was a real wake-up call for me and made me realise I’m not the only one thinking guilty about letting others down. Take for example this blog. I’ve been posting twice a week since I started, once on a Wednesday and once on a Sunday, however yesterday I didn’t have time (due to commitments to others). I woke up this morning kicking myself wondering why I didn’t spend just half an hour writing a blog and posting it.

This was swiftly rationalised by remembering I simply didn’t have the chance to do it. Plus forcing myself to write something isn’t why I started doing this. I wanted to portray my own thoughts and feelings to highlight what I was actually going through.

That’s why reminding yourself of the above phrases helps to promote a healthier mind set and takes the pressure off. Don’t feel guilty for thinking of your own needs and understand that you have to take care of your mental state before others.

I can’t wait to pencil a day in my diary to do absolutely nothing and concentrate on exactly what I want to do.

Release your inner child

Wake up, work, eat, sleep, wake up, work, eat, sleep, wake up, work….

Ever feel like you’re doing the same monotonous thing day in day out? If so, why not sign yourself up to something outrageous and fun. It’s what I recently did and I loved every minute.

Adult tobogganing at Tamworth Snow Dome

My activity of choice was tobogganing at the Snow Dome in Tamworth. It was only a half hour slot but that was just enough time to get to grips with it and not getting too tired. In that half an hour I fitted in four runs down the slope and they were so much fun.

Setting off at the top surrounded by kids and adults you get an adrenaline buzz of not knowing what to expect. As you push off on to the slope and round the first corner at speed all thoughts of the outside world disappear and your concentration is solely on steering and getting to the bottom. The metal pads that steer underneath the toboggan were awful, but that just added to the fun. Not knowing the exact path you were taking made you think on your feet without having to second guess what was coming next.

I had a ball and would definitely do it again in the future. The experience didn’t take up much of my time, it was cheap and most importantly, switched off my mind from any outside stresses.

I’ve got my eye on the adrenaline tubing for my next outing!

What are you waiting for? Go and find yourself a childish activity and let loose.

Dealing with rejection

Last week I applied for a job that matched the experience I possessed and was in an industry I felt passionately about working in. I prepared for the interview more so than I would have for other jobs and even gained the help of my previous colleagues who were still working within that industry. The day of the interview arrived and I was on time, spoke clearly and efficiently and answered the questions well. Or so I thought…

Waiting for the call

Four days later I had my phone charged and the volume cranked up to loud so as not to miss a call while it was glued to my hand all morning. I opened my email account to find a new message stating that unfortunately I had not been the highest scoring candidate at interview. However what made it worse was directly below this the next sentence down stated that ‘I clearly have the necessary knowledge and skills’ and because of this my application is officially on hold. This means that if the exact same position becomes available in the next six months I will be the first in line to get it.

Once the disappointment had passed at not being offered the role, my feelings soon turned to annoyance and frustration. A number of questions kept popping into my head – If I was that good a candidate why had I not been offered the job? Why should I wait around until they decide to offer me a role when it suits them? What did I do wrong in the interview to warrant not getting the job? Was I really that bad a candidate?

Think positively

I realised I was just confused, as my initial thoughts after leaving the interview had been positive, so to have these flipped on their head was difficult. However, I soon rationalised those thoughts and came to more positive conclusions:

  • Everything happens for a reason
  • The job role obviously wasn’t right for me
  • When one door closes another one opens
  • Don’t take it personally as this isn’t an attack on your own ability to do something it’s just the way interviews are scored

This rejection has also given me the opportunity to step back and evaluate what I really want in life. I love writing and conducting research into making a good story and I enjoy the variety each day brings while doing this.

Do what makes you feel good

After looking online at more roles I’ve found a recently published one that sounds right up my street. So don’t wallow in self-pity for too long as the next positive step could be waiting right around the corner.