Dear Family and Friends
Before I start, I should say that this isn’t some deep confession of an innermost secret or some scandalous gossip about my life but something that has been niggling away at me for a while. This is addressed to family and friends, I mean that in the broadest sense, and if you are reading this then it is probably directed at you. By family and friends I mean: those of you who I have known since birth, family, extended family, those who I have grown up with, who I have shared stories with, but also those of you who I have picked up at some point on my journey and walked alongside for a day, a week, a month and those of you that I would like to know better.
Today is Nancy’s 3rd birthday she is my cousins daughter (I sort of think of her as my niece, apparently she thinks of me as her sister – possibly because I learnt all the words to Let it Go) and she is having a birthday party. I’m not going. The reason that I am not going is because I have a rehearsal, it makes me sad that I can’t be there with my extended family and it also makes me think about my priorities.
I read an instagram post this morning which said:
Nobody is too busy, it’s just a matter of priorities
I both agree and disagree with that, I don’t think that it is as simple as that and I don’t think that if you can’t spend time with someone it means that they aren’t one of your priorities, but I do think that in life we need to stop and think about how we make the things that are important to us our priorities.
This letter is not about justifying what I chose to do, but I wanted to take the chance to think about how, when everyone is busy, we can spend more time together. In the case of Nancy’s birthday party I think that my family understands that if I need to go to a rehearsal then that is what I need to do, it doesn’t mean that I care any less, but I do want to bring up some things that I feel guilty about and say that I am sorry for the times that we don’t share.
So here is a little bit about what my priorities are:
I think that it is important to nurture myself, I have been in situations in the past where I have ignored the things that my mind and body need and it has made me physically and mentally unwell. These needs include spending time alone, eating healthily, exercising, and sleeping well. Slightly lower on the priority list is being organised and keeping my house tidy (which is why I want a smaller house). I don’t feel like I can even start being a good friend, sister, daughter, cousin, niece etc to you unless I am healthy. The other things that I need to nurture me are creative outlets, or the feeling like I have a voice. Doing this blog challenge has confirmed this for me, a daily ritual of expressing something about me, my thoughts, my feelings, has already proved to be very cleansing and I am far more confident in everything else that I am doing in life.
Work is something that takes up a lot of my time, and that is largely because I have a portfolio career, which means that my hours are irregular and sometimes I have multiple projects on the go at the same time so I tend to be working morning, noon and night, and the weekend doesn’t exist in my world. I also like to ensure that my work includes things that I am passionate about which give me the aforementioned creative outlets, which means I have to put more time in than if I was just there to get the job done. Money is important to me out of necessity, however I am not driven by money, I am ambitious though, and achievement/personal growth is something that I strive for (whatever that might mean).
Working, sleeping well and going to the gym are all things that hold me back from spending more time with you, but so is my need to have time on my own. I am a very independent person, I’m used to doing things for myself and by myself. I love and cherish alone time when I can write, meditate, read or watch TV. If I am totally honest I don’t often have a strong pull to spend time with people, I spend a lot of time with people when I’m working on different projects, and in small teams or acting jobs relationships are built very quickly, I don’t often feel a longing to be with people outside of that, and I often need to have a lot of recovery time when I have intense time with people (this sounds rather over-dramatic and makes me feel crazy), but it is true. I have a love for a number of people and I really value my friendships and family but I am very uncomfortable asking for help (on most things), and other people don’t often ask me for help on things, although, generally, I love it when they do.
I am very busy and so my to-do list is never empty (I know – nobody has an empty to-do list). But I find it very hard to reconcile this with purely social situations, if I know there are things to be done and I am just hanging out drinking tea then I get very anxious, and to be honest this is not something that I want to change because my anxiety comes from my drive to want to be doing things with my life – fulfilling my personal goals or changing the way the world works! For this reason the friendships that I have developed through work, theatre, film, gymnastics are far more nurtured than those with people who don’t share these things with me. I would love to share more of the activities that I enjoy with you, I have had the best times when I’ve taken non-gymnast friends to gymnastics with me (and I know they have too).
But these are the things that I question about what I prioritise:
- Am I selfish for having a portfolio career, when I could have a nine-to-five and then have lots of free time for seeing you?
- Am I selfish for going to the gym, instead of spending time with you?
- I have time to sit down and write a blog why don’t I have time to see the people I care about?
- Do you understand why I prioritise what I do? do you even care?
- Do you think I let you down or don’t prioritise you? Or is that feeling just my inner voice?
- Are you thinking: How can she be “busy” when I see pictures of her on Facebook doing Yoga in LA! That doesn’t look like work to me
I would love to feel like a better friend but how do I do that without compromising myself, how many of my “priorities” would I loosen to be a better friend? HELP! Social media is one way that I keep relationships going and I will write a bit more about the social benefits of social media in a future blog.
I have loved becoming an auntie this year and I love having a relationship with my friend’s little girls. I love watching Nancy grow up and I have enjoyed spending a lot more time with my cousins over recent months. A lot of my friends live at least 2 hours away and others live thousands of miles away, how do we keep these friendships going?
I end this letter by saying, please, if you think of me never hesitate to pick up the phone or send me a text. I am reaching out to you to say that I would love to share more of my life with you, and I feel bad when I can’t. Thank you for taking the time to understand why my priorities are important to me and I hope you feel like I respect the things that are important to you. It would be great if you can come and join me in my passions and let me know more about yours.
Lots of Love