If you’ve read my first post (here) you will know that I hung up my proverbial shingle in order to reset, chill out in PJs all day, and basically undertake a range of fairly cliche’d activities like make raw organic kale and protein juices (which I still love), attend hot yoga sessions and develop a serious (and possibly unhealthy) obsession with surfing, all in an attempt to “find myself” (how one misplaces themselves in the first place, I do not know, but I managed it).
Tracking back through my post history, you will see that there has been a period of silence from me, and that is because I have – *sharp inhale*– started working again.
It is not all that bad though! And that is because I am in what is essentially my dream job. I mean my absolute dream job would actually pay me to surf (if I were to go for broke, I’d say surf and travel and eat delicious healthy foods), but short of someone paying me ridiculous amounts of money to surf badly, I’m doing alright. Yes, there are still days where parts of the job have me tearing my hair out; clients are demanding, barristers are needy, and sometimes the hours are long (hello 3am finishes). However, for the most part, I look forward to work every day because the cases I run are complex, fascinating (at least in my warped view of the world), headline-catching, and my boss and colleagues are some of the finest humans and sharpest minds I have ever met. Plus, my life is a lot more balanced now, and I have room to breathe. In fact, towards the end of a recent holiday, I started to look forward to coming back to work, something I never thought I would do. That is when I realised, “I’m in my dream job”.
So how did this come to pass?
No, the interview was not based on a sudden-death surfing competition (I would have lost…)
Many months into my blissful state of unemployment, my loyal and dogged recruiter called me, informed me of the “perfect” job, and would not let me off the phone until she had extracted my promise that I would go to the interview.
So I did – straight from a surf session, still with salt on my skin and sand in my hair.
Before my surf break, I probably would have attended the interview and rattled off lines I thought any interviewer would have wanted to hear (“I really enjoy spending time in the office” [translation: I can work 15 hour days with no complaint], “law is my single-overriding life passion” [translation: I will prioritise work above all else, including any firstborn child I may have in future], “I am very client focused” [I will answer client emails at 4am on weekends]). However, the new (bolder, improved) me gave my (now) boss a completely frank assessment of what I wanted out of this job, my career and, indeed, my life. “Leave me or take me as I am.” In fact, I talked to him about my values, how I wanted to be treated at work, how I wanted to treat clients (no gouging, no overservicing), and why typical corporate hamster wheel life was not for me.
And I was only able to do so because I was more self-aware about what are the things that truly make me happy, give me fulfilment and have meaning in my life. I have a much better understanding of what are my non-negotiables. I made a promise to myself that I would no longer unthinkingly chasing someone else’s dream (which I did in going straight from law school to large-law-firm life and then spending all my time chasing the big cheese).
Thankfully, time out in the water – either peacefully waiting for a wave, staring down my fears, or trying not to drown – gave me the space for self-reflection and valuable time in my own head that I had never really known before, or cared to give myself.
Those countless hours spent waiting for waves, inhaling the sea air, feeling my board underneath me pick up and bob gently down with each passing waves, watching the seagulls wheel around the setting sun; that was all productive mental time.
And I wasn’t laughed out of the interview!
In fact, my boss and I really clicked. I think he found my honesty refreshing and, perhaps surprisingly, he valued much of same things that I did. It was the only time where I have walked away with a great “gut feel” about a place. Now I know not everyone believes in intuition, but I am a big believer of it, and I think time surfing hones that ability. After all, isn’t surfing all about trying to read the waves and intuit what a very powerful force of nature will do, how it will peel and crest and ultimately spend itself?
I said “yes” to job the very next day and have never been happier.
Whatever your obsession is, and whatever it that you do that gives you that little bubble of you-time, keep doing it.
And remember to breathe.