When I was little, I wanted to be a midwife. I liked babies, and I loved the idea that I could help women bring them safely into the world. I imagined giving birth was the female equivalent of going to an epic battlefield, and I could picture myself the badass yet compassionate general leading them to battle. I wanted to help them trust their own strength as they pushed through the pain to bring a tiny human into the world. I remember thinking women have some sort of secret superpower, and there could not be a more important job on the planet than to help them be heroes. A little gross for a 6-year-old yes, but beautiful.
Fast forward twenty-something years. I did not. Become a midwife. For many reasons. Perhaps the most obvious one was that, right after finishing school, I wasn’t ready to commit to one calling. Let me rephrase that. Perhaps because at 18 years old, you’re freshly out of nappies and society expects you to make life-changing decisions when you can’t decide whether you like Supergrass more than the Beatles. And whether such a dilemma is indeed something worth losing sleep over.
So instead of choosing and following a predetermined path, I did what I now believe every 18-year-old who isn’t quite sure what they want from life should do: I tried things, I got lost, I corrected my course and learnt a thing or two along the way.
A snapshot of my long and winding road
To give you an idea just how messy my journey has been so far, here is a quick “previously, in Marie’s life” summary: after school, I started and dropped out of my first degree, spent a year playing music, got dumped, reassessed my entire life and let my passion for literature and languages take over, which led me to study English literature and translation. Before I could say “The rain in Spain” in a proper British accent, I was standing on a train platform ready to cross the Channel, dragging an oversized backpack, my cello and a laptop, eager to get lost in London for a bit. Life changes fast at twenty.
A year later, I moved from the U.K. to Germany with the guy who originally dumped me, found a full-time job in Luxembourg at an auditing firm while studying in Paris and still playing music on weekends. Looking back, I would not recommend juggling your first real job, a complicated relationship and an honours degree across three different countries. I did get through it in one piece but decided I would commit fully to my final year of studies. That’s when I decided to move to Dublin. It turned out to be a great call as I snatched both a Master’s degree and a boyfriend who would, later on, become my husband.
I’ll spare you too many details, but new boyfriend and I landed back in London for a couple of months working early morning shifts at GAP. We then spent a painful 8 months in Dubai where I worked in the oil services industry, before finally landing in South Africa. There, I briefly worked as a freelance translator, made my way up the corporate ladder, learnt marketing and design along the way before joining an advertising agency. I fell pregnant, quit my job, started a graphic design business and started this blog after our move to Zambia triggered a love affair with minimalism. I am now writing this from our new home in Cape Town. Still with me?
Getting lost to find yourself
When you put it all on paper, your life’s journey may appear awfully disjointed and messy. When you look a little closer, however, you may start noticing patterns in the way you get lost.
Hear me out. Not until recently, did I realise that studying translation was a cover for one of my biggest passions. What I’ve always wanted to do was write. It’s always been in me, I’ve always written stories, some sort of blog, and even deep and meaningful lyrics for my band like: “I’m half asleep and I don’t feel like waking” (ah, sweet twenties – so torturous, so intense). It never occurred to me I that could make writing part of my actual job. So translating was a way to do what I loved, using someone else’s voice. A much, much safer option. Graphic design and music are others ways I use to tell stories and create feelings without having to utter a single word. Again, a safer alternative to using my own voice. Except safety often comes with a side dish of frustration and a feeling of playing small.
It gradually became abundantly clear to me I’ve always wanted to tell stories. And underneath it all, I’ve had a burning desire to teach, help and support others. Help them free themselves from whatever is holding them back, help them let go of clutter and help them find their own voice. Help them birth their own creative stories. So you could say that in a way, I am now actually morphing into a midwife. A creative midwife.
My point is this: when you start looking at your life choices and what you are naturally drawn to, you may start noticing recurring themes that will guide you towards a wholehearted life. It isn’t always obvious and the path is paved with self-doubt and bills to pay. But a little excavation goes a long way. You may have already given yourself clues you are not yet aware of. Keep digging. Connect the dots. And follow your curiousity. It is your intuition nudging you in the right direction.
Follow your gut
Too often, we put so much pressure on ourselves to have everything figured out. The truth is, we may never quite figure it out completely. And that’s ok. It is more than healthy to take the scenic road and go off path to explore what feels right, and what doesn’t.
I often hear creatives ask; “What can I offer? What is my niche? My unique offering?” And while these are legitimate questions, they don’t need an answer right this second.
Rather ask yourself: “What am I curious about? What have I learnt lately that could help someone else? What makes me come alive at the moment?” Aim for clarity over certainty.
Your blog, art or career today needs to serve you right now. It doesn’t mean it is the work of your lifetime. It shouldn’t be a destination. It simply is part of your journey. A journey that doesn’t only go higher or further. A journey that requires going deeper. A journey that leads us home towards ourselves and our instincts.
The picture of your life today may look very different to what you may have imagined or hoped for. But if you look close, the clues to follow have been there all along. Trust that nobody knows you better than yourself. Get lost, and trust that you already know what your next move needs to be. Trust your intuition. It never lies.
Soundtrack: You’re Lost Little Girl | Agnes Obel
The Doors pretty much encapsulated the idea behind this blog post in their song “You’re lost Little Girl”. I was delighted to find Agnes Obel’s cover as I’ve been obsessed with her lately. Enjoy. And if you have a minute to spare, do comment, it would make me feel a little less lost about this whole blogging thing.
So how do you feel about getting lost?