Apron strings

Is it it because I am an only child, I wonder, that I find myself worrying so much, at nearly forty years of age, about what my parents will think if I do what I really want to do? (My lord, that was a sentence of some complexity)

It is a source of endless anxiety. Their opinion of me. My perception of their disappointment. Not in all things, but in many. And the things they are not disappointed about are possibly the things of which I would like to divest myself.

But it is, after all, my life. How will I feel if by some miracle I make it to the ever receding pension age, having stayed at my current employer all my life, never truly enjoying it. Indeed, much of the time actively detesting and being damaged by it, in terms of my mental wellbeing. And then, what guarantee of any health or life left over to enjoy this glorious pension, which is not the golden apple so many seem to think even now – before a another thirty years of political erosion. If they are still here then, they will be 95.

Should one expect long life and luxury in retirement? Put off all enjoyment until then? It is a hell of a gamble, and one which I would not give myself good odds on. Not that one should not prepare for it. In case it happens. But how would you live your life if you assumed you wouldn’t live much past 60 or 70? That there would be no long stretch of health to reap the rewards of a life of toil.

I would like some different experiences. Working experiences, and leisure experiences. I want to keep learning. I want to do what I love. I want to create, to teach, to make a difference, to help, in a more direct way than I do now.

I am suffering from imposter syndrome. I still do, even in my long established role, in which I never get anything but good feedback.

It doesn’t seem to matter what plaudits or awards, commendations or approval I receive. It doesn’t sink in.

Perhaps because like any little Freudian I am always seeking the approval of my father and mother. And something always feels not quite right. It’s not that they don’t approve of my job. Clearly, the angst I am feeling regarding the prospect of doing something Different is based on their belief that it is “a good thing”. But I can’t really explain why it doesn’t feel right. They think It is a good thing because of the pay. The pension. The flexibility. The illusion of stability. And none of these things are bad. But somehow they don’t see the job itself. It is a good job. I remember commenting when one of my predecessor was being patronised by her husband- doesn’t he realise that’s a really good role in our profession? And Nationally, internationally even, not just within our organisation. So I have to acknowledge that myself. And it is not reall the professional aspects of the job I have trouble with. Except the ways in which I know it could be so much better in a different type of organisation.

It’s like those memes, “what people think I do, what my parents think I do, what I actually do” – I am not sure what they really think my day involves. But somehow here is surprise that I have staff, that I make the decisions about who to hire, that I travel to London a lot, that I’ve met some of he people they see on the news. I don’t know what job would be impressive to them. Or if they care at all about what I do, other than the pay it brings.

The things I want more of don’t cost money really. Well, some of them do. But not the really fudamental things. Maybe it’s just for a while. Time, space, air, fitness, community, creativity

I want to do something I’m good at, that makes a difference. that makes me happy . Several things. That I don’t have time to do properly now. But suddenly the thought of leaving the little pool scares me. I doubt my ability, think I’m a fraud, not real, somehow I don’t have the experience or training or something. I’m cosseted and delusional.

Maybe I am. Maybe I’m the person on the X factor whose mum really thinks they have a lovely voice.


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