Life Outside of What We Know - PetraHave you heard that cliché that asks “are you just paying bills till you die?”

In my 20’s I was committed to my job, I used to eat, live and breathe it. If I took a holiday, I would continually call into the office to see how things were going in my absence.  If I had learned there was an issue the phone would be glued to my ear barking orders to my team because I felt I would be the only one who could fix it. The buck stopped with me and even if I was on holiday, my superiors would hold me accountable. Interestingly it wasn’t just my superiors who held that view, so did I; I defined myself by the job I did and I believed it was a crucial job. I really did.

Now at this point, you are probably asking was I a brain surgeon? No..

Was I a community worker helping other humans? No..

I was moving stuff. They call it a Supply Chain Manager.

I had convinced myself that this was my purpose in life. I was good at it, they paid me well and to be worthy of the wage they paid me, I was on call 24/7. They would telephone me at all hours in the night if there was an issue and I had to fix it.

This was before the extensive use of the internet and there were many nights I pulled myself into the office at 3am and I would find myself chartering an aeroplane which would be met by a motorbike courier that would speed it through the streets of London / Birmingham / Frankfurt / Valencia, or anywhere else in the world you can think of. Sometimes this was for a small box of plastic parts that weighed less than 5kg.

Thousands and thousands of dollars would be spent and it was my job to make sure it was someone else’s mistake and not my teams.

When I was introduced to people for the first time I would say “I’m a Supply Chain Manager” I let it hang in there air – to allow people to fully absorb the gravitas of my occupation as if it was the most important job in the world. I wholeheartedly believed this was a crucial role delivering an immense service to the world. Move over Mother Theresa, there is a genuine rival for your peace prize. My friends, I have a worthy career. Yes, I do.

It wasn’t until a boyfriend said “Petra, you organise the supply for bits of car seats. What is this career you keep talking about? You have a job like I have a job”

Shattered. My illusion was shattered. I had validated myself by believing that I was this vitally important person who the company (and probably the world) could not do without? Ha!

The role was immense pressure and everything was high stakes; things must be here by X time or there was going to be a lot of money that would be spent, bosses would not be happy and then heads would roll. It was an environment where stress was frequently used as a motivational tool.

Thankfully that role is long behind me, yet it was only when I was out of it that I could see the impact of the role on my personality.

I had been consumed and powered by FEAR. I kept on doing what I thought I had to survive. It’s what I knew.

Once I changed direction I felt immense relief, even though I had to curb my spending and review my financial situation I breathed for the first time.

I didn’t need weekly massages anymore, because I wasn’t stressed!I didn’t need to have fantastic holidays (although I like them) to escape life, because I was enjoying life, day in and day out. What a revelation!

I want to savour and enjoy every moment of this thing we call life. 

My course correction took introspection, consolidation and belief in myself and I’m so happier for it. Let’s not just pay bills till we die. Let’s live it.

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