The moment that changed everything
Although it was over two years ago, that moment is etched in my memory so clearly. My hubby and I were sitting in the front seats of my car, stationary on the driveway. We’d just returned from an appointment with a specialist about starting IVF treatment. After a year of unsuccessfully trying to conceive naturally, we were taking the logical next step. I had never questioned whether we should actually have children. That’s just what you do, right, the purpose of life? You’re born, go to school, go to university, get married, have children, retire and die.
But on that day, something was different. Right there and then, I started to ask WHY. Out of nowhere, I blurted out to my husband, ‘Do we actually want children anyway? Why do we want them? Is it just because that’s what people do after they get married – what everyone else is doing?”
Maybe I was just feeling overwhelmed, and the enormity of the challenge ahead of us had brought me to a state of panic. But whatever the catalyst was, the questioning I started that day sitting in the car set me off on a series of ‘Whys’ questioning my whole life. And it changed everything for the better….
But I already had the ‘perfect’ life!
At that time two years ago, I had a secure job with lovely colleagues, earning great money and lots of travel thrown in. I was able to buy my first house in Sydney by the age of 30… (okay, I admit the bank does own most of it!). I had – and thankfully still have – a wonderful, loving husband and family. I had always been a high-performer, finishing school and university with top marks. I remember when I finished university, I couldn’t wait to start a REAL job. To be a homeowner, to have money. And at 32, I’d made it. I was WINNING!
But in retrospect, I was also a little bit of a d*ck. I was entitled. My whole sense of ego was wrapped up in my material ‘success’ and how ‘well’ I was doing. I felt so important going on business travel and driving my new car… as if those things really matter?
I rarely took the time to connect with my family (most of whom live in the UK) and I had to keep a notes section in my phone for each one of my friends, because I actually couldn’t remember anything they told me about themselves! I was constantly ill – I’d catch any bug within a 50km radius and it would knock me for six. I had been on and off of anti-anxiety medication for a couple of years. I was soooo tired and all my muscles ached. Sitting at a desk all day was like torture. I just wanted to sleep. ‘So what’? I hear you say… that’s how most young people live. Work hard and play harder!
Down the rabbit hole…
But over the coming months, that initial question about whether we truly wanted to have children opened up an entire rabbit hole of further questions about WHY I was doing – or why I desired – certain things. Was I just chasing the dollar because that’s what society tells me I should do? What do I actually need this money for? Why am I putting myself through a 2-hour commute each day and a painful day sitting at a desk when I find it torturous?
As I carried on my ‘perfect’ life, I pondered on these questions and more for a good couple of months. Every time I asked a question, and then delved deeper, it was like someone waking me up from a dream with a floodlight.
I pride myself on being a rational person, but I realised that they way I was living my life was completely irrational! It was based on a whole set of beliefs that society had made up for me, rather than my own set of values and needs.
So of course, I did what any other self-respecting Gen Y would do…. I quit my job to ‘find myself’!!
I call this my ‘early mid-life crisis’ but in reality I couldn’t be happier that I had it happened so early. I spent 3 months reconnecting to my family, sitting in my sunny back garden reading professional development books, taking the dog for bush walks and luxuriating at the ability to do my clothes washing at any time of the day. Although I was searching for answers, in reality it brought up months of more questions like…
What makes me truly happy? What gives me energy? What are my values? Why do I feel the need to drive 10km/h over the speed limit everywhere I go? Do I really need the house refurbished / new car / new clothes? Why am I happy eating some animals and treat other animals (like my dog) like a human?
Asking these questions empowered and energised me like never before. I realised that I come ALIVE when I’m learning and discovering new things, and that I’m happiest when I’m being kind and helping others. I found out that I thrive in fresh air, enveloped in nature. I learned heaps about organising my time around my natural circadian rhythms and about eating for optimal energy rather than for weight loss.
It was almost like I was becoming a different person… a person I was proud to be.
The effect that this ‘awakening’ was having on me was so profound that when the opportunity to start up The Serenity Collective with the amazing Claire arose, I simply had to take it. Being my own boss means that I can organise ‘work’ around my own needs to thrive as an individual – constantly learning, working according to my energy levels rather than the clock and spending more time outdoors in nature.
Most importantly for me, what I love The Serenity Collective is that it gives me the platform to share in this powerful questioning with others. With The Serenity Collective, we have an inspiring group of people – a tribe who are beginning to live their lives more consciously so that they can be happy, healthy and perform at their best.
Every person I meet through Serenity has a new perspective or idea – something that fuels me on my own journey to living consciously and to be at my best.
Life. Sorted (?)
Fast-forward two years, and do I have my life all sorted out? Absolutely not!
I have days (sometimes entire weekends) when I can’t drag myself off the sofa, I still eat junk food and binge on Netflix. Leaving decades-old habits behind is not easy! It’s a constant battle to be positive, calm and kind in all situations. But I’m ok with that, I’m human after all.
What I do know, is that the changes I’ve already made are making a massively positive impact on my life. I have more energy than ever before. I’ve astounded myself by not succumbing to even one bout of cold or flu this year. I do yoga and go for a bush walk most days and I’ve discovered that I can still have fun if I don’t drink alcohol! I’ve reached my goal weight through eating more food and less meat. I feel ALIVE, AWAKE and more IN CONTROL.
Always check in with your WHY
Do I recommend that everyone quits their jobs immediately to ‘go find themselves’? Emphatically NO! Sometimes we throw the baby out with the bathwater – making massive changes to our lives, when all we need are little tweaks to put us at our best.
All it takes, is to ask ourselves ‘Why’ more often. In fact, ALL the time. It’s only through asking these questions, that we can start living our lives the way the way that works uniquely for each of us, as individuals.
So, I ask you today, WHY do YOU do the things you do?
You can start off with a small question, or a big question, but you never know, you may come up an answer that will set you on a positive path to changing your life forever…
Much love, Sophie