I'm absolutely delighted to have Emily of The Bell Jar talking about her life's dream in today's interview. Although I did initially set out to have this series based on careers, I thought it was also important to talk about other issues that fall under the same 'dream' umbrella. With that, I'll hand you over to Emily.
What's your name and how old are you?
Emily Hughes. It’s so plain and so British; I wish my name was more exotic and memorable, except when I’ve done something wrong! I’m 25.
What dream are you trying to achieve?
Sustained contentment. I mean, I feel happy but for a long time it’s been a fleeting feeling and I’m in search of a lifestyle that gives me a more long-term joy, rather than a rollercoaster of short extreme highs and seemingly longer lows.
How long have you had this dream and how long ago did you decide to pursue it?
I think that in the past I’ve just accepted that other people would be happier than me and that I was perhaps just more susceptible to feeling sad. I’d tried medication and counselling and although they worked in the short term, a few months later I’d be back where I started. I read about CBT and decided back in April/May time I wanted to give this kind of therapy try. Although I’ve been seeking help on and off for five years, I guess this was when I’ve been most motivated to make a change and pursue my dream. It sounds a bit odd referring to being happy as a dream but at times it felt so far off and unlikely to happen.
What are you doing to try and make it happen?
As I’ve mentioned, therapy has been playing a big role in my pursuit of happiness and I’ve recently been discharged from it which feels amazing. Part of CBT is problem solving and a big problem was my job. I’d start dreading going back on Monday as soon as I woke up on Sunday. I felt sick, lost my appetite and was miserable for months. After trying various ideas to help relieve this, I finally decided to leave and got myself a new job. For now, I’ve got a low-pressure job, with no over time that’s a 6 minute drive from my house. What’s more is I’m good at it and there’s room for progression in a field I’m interested in, things are really looking up!
I underplayed how much of an effect having a job you don’t enjoy can have on how you feel: when you think about it, you are there 5 days a week. You spend more time with the people you work with than with anyone else so it’s not surprising that your unhappiness stemming from work can spill over into other aspects of life.
What's the best advice you've been given to help make the dream happen?
My friends, family and boyfriend have been so patient and supportive whilst I’ve been trying to figure out where I want to go next. The overall resounding message that I got was to do what makes me happy which surprised me as I was adamant that I was expected to live my life a certain way.
What advice would you give to someone with a similar dream?
This is all going to sound cliché and regurgitated, but I believe it to be true! Don’t feel like you have to prove anything to anybody. As illustrated in the previous question, sometimes the expectations we think others have of us aren’t true anyway. It’s OK not to be driven by money and it’s OK to be career driven too, you just have to live life the way you want to. If you’re unhappy in a certain situation or aspect of your life, do something about it! You can’t plod along and expect things will improve or hope someone will do it for you (they won’t).
What are the best parts of trying to achieve your dream?
I feel empowered that I’m being true to myself, am no longer feel phased by what anyone might think about me and also by the newfound productivity I have, now I’m feeling positive and optimistic. Also, it’s a really realistic dream which I feel well on my way to achieving and can start thinking about my next goal!
What are the hardest parts of trying to achieve your dream?
There are days when I doubt myself and wonder if I gave up on my last job because I was lazy, but I just don’t know it or where I get sad and think I’m an awful person for not being settled in a job role with a fancy title, but those are just bad days, we all have them. I know that I gave my old job my best and that although I keep finding roles with aspects I don’t enjoy or prosper in, being able to say I don’t want to do x,y and z is part of the journey to learning what you are good at and do enjoy participating in.
Employment aside, I’m stuck in my ways. I’ve been struggling on and off with this problem for 10 years so beating my negative mentality is a challenge, but definitely one I welcome and I know there’s been a drastic improvement so far.
If you could start from scratch, what would you do differently?
With hindsight it’s easy to go back and wish that I’d done things differently, but the reality is every choice I made led me to where I am currently, which is the closest to achieving my dream I’ve ever been, I’d even say I am achieving it. In an ideal world, I wish I’d been ready to get the help I needed when I was at university. The way I dealt with, (or didn’t deal with, more like) things back then, meant I didn’t make the most of the experience of university itself which is a regret of mine.
Anything else you'd like to share with us?
I’ve talked about this topic in more detail in a post on my blog. I was really nervous about posting it, but I’ve received so many supportive comments from young people who can relate to it which is amazing!
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Emily, it really is inspiring to read about the steps you've taken and the huge decisions you've made to be who you really are. If you have a dream that you'd like to share with my readers please contact me via my page above.
You can find Emily and her fantastic cruelty-free blog via the links below: