An open letter to my family and friends 3


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.

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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.

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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

Becky

xx


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3 thoughts on “An open letter to my family and friends

  • Lorelei

    Oh Becky – I could have written this letter! And ask myself similar questions to the ones you are asking. But there are a few things I feel I’ve learned over the years. For a start, we are who we are and cannot completely change the way we are. I share some of the traits you describe – including a liking for independence, dislike of asking for help and needing time to myself. I’ve had to learn to modify my behaviour and find different ways to address these needs as I’ve travelled through my life, but my personality hasn’t changed. We do our friends and family no service if we try to be someone or something we are not – and it’s not sustainable anyway.

    But I think we do have a duty to ourselves and everyone around us to consider how we can grow – personally, spiritually etc. This doesn’t happen without time spent in self-reflection – exactly what you are doing here. Time invested in thinking about how you live your life and why you act as you do will make you a better friend, daughter, sister cousin, colleague etc. This is not an easy process and choosing to challenge oneself to become a better person is a brave thing to do. We don’t always like what we find when we look inside ourselves. You should never apologise for time spent in this way. But this investment pays dividends.

    I doubt that your friends and family would really want you to be any different to how you are – your experiences will enrich their lives in so many ways – but continuing to question how and why is a good thing to do – even if the answers can be slow in coming……

    PS I am not sure that a notional ‘9-5’ job necessarily leaves more time for others – it never has in my experience!

    • Becky Post author

      Lorelei

      Hi, how are you, it has been too long.

      I really appreciate you taking the time to respond to this. Interestingly I think that the way I choose to live my life now has been partly triggered by the time spent working with you and starting to understand the importance of being myself and identifying my priorities.

      Also thanks for reminding me that the 9-5 does not mean that, which is why I stopped doing it in the first place. I was spending all my time working on other people’s agendas and had nothing left at the end of the day or the end of the week for myself or for those around me.

      Catch up soon

      Becky
      x

  • Marcin Bogdanski

    Hi Becky

    4am is a mysterious time. So quiet, susceptible and alien, and so magical. Mind fully awake – refusing to sleep or do anything purposeful (why?). Anyway,

    Thank you for your post. I can’t consider myself even a remote friend and I am not sure if I am eligible to reply yet I would like to present a bit different perspective. I fully appreciate that people do things differently and I fully support your way.

    I am manoeuvring through a change in relationship with my closest friends over last year or so and I’m not sure they are realising it. I don’t normally turn on my political thinking with friends around but with us drifting a little apart recently I decided that this is a best way to go about it. At least until I figure out how to proceed. Perhaps I should write open letter myself :).

    And it is caused by my priorities as well. Previously when I was in my 9-5 job (or should I say 8-10 job) I was spending most of my free time with them. Now I run my own business, not that I have any less work, but I have much more control over when work happens and through that what I can do with my free time.

    To make matters worse I am dedicated to actively meet new people. I believe that meeting and getting to know a lot of different kind of people is important. And I will take reasonable amounts of time out of my schedule for this purpose. I even have hard-scheduled social dancing time every week to make sure I don’t “forget” about that. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, my friends didn’t choose to participate yet. On top of that I meet a lot of people through work and often I throw in extra social time to grow those relationships. My friends are very valuable to me and it will stay that way, but now they are a part in a much larger landscape.

    As for working hard and long hours. Yes I agree it is important but I think this is only part of the trick. Firstly, working really long hours doesn’t seem to be effective – and if project requires it for survival then something is wrong somewhere else. Much better figure out what is wrong and fix it. Secondly I was lucky to meet couple of successful (and quite wealthy) people on occasion. At lest the ones I meet seem to be spending disturbing amounts of time on holiday or non-work activities. In all cases they have brilliant interpersonal and strategic skills. Funny enough it is mostly young, smart and driven people running their ventures. Makes you stop and think a bit :).

    Ok, it took on and off four hours to get my comment into shape! Also I figured out why I can’t sleep. So I guess… thank you. Today will be indeed quite a bit more interesting than I thought!

    All the best with your new year resolutions as well!
    Marcin