Why hitting pause is terrifying
Learning the same lessons over and over again
I can’t be the only one who feels like they are learning the same lessons over and over again.
This week, I thought I’d write about the pressure of consistency, coupled with how I am now staring down the barrel of a maternity leave period just as my newsletter is starting to “take off”…then I remembered I’d already written about that back in November 2021.
It’s easy to forget when you’re writing at scale… and also your brain is turning to mush as you enter the final phase of pregnancy.
Hitting a milestone
This week, Conversations By The Sea hit 500 subscribers. Two years ago, I started this weekly newsletter under the guise of accountability in my own personal writing.
As a professional copywriter, I write all day, every day for clients. This can make it hard to dedicate time to my own writing - and yet, my love of writing is what got me into this career in the first place. So, the newsletter became a way to ensure I wrote something every single week, even if it wasn’t the best personal essay I’d ever created, it was an opportunity to flex my writing muscles.
It turns out people liked reading my stuff, even though I often struggle to categorise the themes of the newsletter into one simple sentence. While the description states: “this newsletter is about mental health, work-life balance and internet culture”, a truer statement would be “this newsletter is about whatever lesson I am learning this week.”
Self-development is cyclical
So, even though I have already written about the pressure of being consistent, I thought it was time to revisit under a new gaze.
To be honest, I am facing my upcoming period of absence with a little dread.
It’s not just absence from the newsletter, which is really not a massive deal, but absence from the business I’ve spent three years building. It’s worth mentioning here that I am very lucky to share my business with my husband Craig, so Content By The Sea will continue to serve clients even while I am on maternity leave.
Even then, I was nervous to tell clients I was pregnant out of fear they would go elsewhere. And while this hasn’t happened, I have still had to turn down potentially thousands of pounds worth of work over the last few weeks in particular, simply because Craig’s books are full.
Time after time
For women in the workplace, there really is no right time to have a baby. Taking even the shortest break away from work is terrifying. I can only speak from the point of view of being self-employed, but I know that many women face similar, if not more intense, struggles in the corporate world as they lose out on opportunities to other colleagues (male or otherwise).
I will say that the majority of our clients have been very understanding and are happy to take a short break or continue working with Craig until I am back in the autumn. However, there’s no risk that Craig will replace me with a younger, child-free copywriter in the meantime (note from Craig: though I am of course susceptible to bribes) - so I am grateful to not have that hanging over my head.
And, in terms of learning the same lessons over and over again, I am facing a similar battle with my own mental health. Feelings of inadequacy and anxiety are already creeping in, even before the baby is here.
However, I keep remembering something my therapist said to me back in 2019 after my mam passed away when I broke down in her office at the fear of “going back” to my worst period of mental health as some of my old habits and symptoms started to creep back in.
She said: “You will never go back to that place because you aren’t that person anymore. You have a toolbox of coping mechanisms now. You aren’t starting from the same position, so why expect the same outcome?”
Putting that into another context, I have found myself feeling sad about having to abandon my running practice at 24 weeks pregnant. I know this isn’t forever, but it felt like a defeat after a period of progress.
In September 2021, I ran the Great North Run and then in October, I then smashed my first ever sub-30 min 5K, a goal I’d been working towards for over two years. Obviously, pregnancy put a pause on that and eventually I had to stop running altogether in favour of swimming. It would be easy for me to dwell on this loss of progress however, having spoken to other avid runners, I know that this isn’t lost. It’s just a temporary pause.
I might not run 5K in 29 minutes again until winter, or even 2023 - but I will do it again. Likewise, I might not send this newsletter every week or bill five figures every month this summer… but I will again. And, in the meantime, I’ll be doing something even more important than all of those things rolled together: raising a tiny human.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on learning lessons over and over again, or even just about balancing parenting and work. You’ll find me on Twitter @ContentByTheSea or reply to this email for a chat!
📚 The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr - A fantastic novel about a forbidden union between two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation, the refuge they find in each other, and a betrayal that threatens their existence.
📚Autumn by Ali Smith - A beautifully written first dive into Ali Smith’s famous literary prose. This probably isn’t for everyone but I loved it and have already ordered the rest of the series from the library.
📚 Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton - A bible for the millennials like me who spent their teenage years on MSN messenger. I squeezed this audiobook into my dog walks ready for the TV adaptation coming out this week. I love Dolly’s podcasts and this didn’t disappoint at all.
See you next Wednesday (unless I’ve had a baby) with more musings on topics that are important to me, including but not limited to: mental health, work/life balance, internet culture, and much more.
Enjoyed this? You might like these past issues:
1st June: I’m angry
25th May: To err is to human, but when to -er?
18th May: Can you ever be too prepared?
11th May: Finding the path of least resistance
5th May: Should brands take a stance?
27th April: Social media has always been evil
21st April: Who are we really?
13th April: The ultimate grammar debate
6th April: Has social media killed nuanced debate?
30th March: Finding diamonds in the rough
23rd March: Do brands really care?
16th March: The future of this newsletter
9th March: Don’t shoot the messenger