I Really Hate Winter!

I sit down for my morning coffee; before me a stunning view of Sydney Harbour glistening in the sunshine. I start work in 32 minutes so I don’t have much time to piece this blog together. I’ve been meaning to write more (as always) however life has had other ideas…

I’ll start by happily declaring Winter to be officially over! Spring has definitely sprung and the cold depression that was the last three months has frozen to a halt. Will it be my last? I hope so. Year round adventures to maintain my place in a suitably warmer climate are my goal come June next year!

Winter 2017 began with some unfortunate news. It was my first time stepping up from part-time to full-time study and I was nervous as to how this would impact me. These nerves were then compounded when on the first day of the trimester I was called by my employer and advised that my employment was being terminated amid widespread cutbacks (that’s the short version of a very long story!).

I was angry and frustrated and very well aware of the financial strain this would place on me. I wallowed for an hour or two and then resolved to keep marching on. I reminded myself of the many situations similar to this that I had been in in the past that I had endured; situations that had in fact lead me on to far better things!

That afternoon I got a haircut, printed my CV and drove to a shopping center nearby to start my job search. Later that night I began searching Gumtree and Seek, applying for yet more jobs. A week later I had a job trial at a small marketing firm after breezing through the initial interview. It was an amazing opportunity and one that I had been dreaming about for a long time! And I still hadn’t even finished my diploma…

It was a scary day that job trial. I barely slept the night before. And the day seemed to go on forever! I dabbled in many areas of the business and sat down with the owner a number of times to assess my thoughts and feelings on things. We went back and forth, trying to reach an agreement though something within me just didn’t feel right. As great of an opportunity this was on paper it just wasn’t the right one for me.

Back to the drawing board.

I sat down in one of my favourite Coogee cafe’s the morning after to begin following up the other job applications I had sent around. There was one, at a men’s clothing store, from whom I still hadn’t heard back.¬† I phoned them and within a week I was offered a job. Win.

I never saw myself working in a retail clothing store. Not after five years travelling the world, climbing the ranks to management positions in the fitness world, racing cars and marketing other drivers. It seemed like I plummeted all the way back to ground zero. This has been hard to get my head around and yet it’s allowed me the freedom to focus on my studies.¬†High Distinctions overall in all three of my subjects confirm to me that I’m on the right track.

Let me add to this a note on sacrifice and commitment. Last year I commenced my studies though somewhat reluctantly. I had convinced myself that study wasn’t for me. I vowed never to go to uni. I wanted to be that successful entrepreneur who bypassed ‘the system’. I guess this originated when I dropped out of school six months early. And thus I dropped out of my first four college subjects too with no intention of ever starting again.

These past three months I have felt a level of commitment only felt when I was preparing to go back to the UK to race cars. I had completely resolved in my mind that whatever it took to excel, I was going to do. And I did. And I’m very proud of myself.

This came despite a painful winter, a painful relationship breakup, the painful search for a new job and the painful financial consequences that came alongside. Still there are many challenges that face me in the coming months face and though I do very much hope that I don’t have to fold T-shirts for very much longer, Summer is on it’s way and life is rewarding me in ways that I could never have imagined.

These lessons I am learning are so valuable and though it is hard sometimes, I am very very grateful.

PJ.

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Winter PJ vs. Summer PJ

Summer PJ feels at ease with himself and his surrounds. His hair is longer and his skin is darker. It’s rare that you’ll see him wearing anything other than his swimmers. And a long sleeve linen shirt. His feet will be as tanned as any other part of his body. ‘Enclosed footwear’ becomes a distant memory.

He feels happy and free. It’s easier for him to engage in conversation. And to put away his phone. He feels more confident in asking a girl on a date. And very rarely will a day pass in which he hasn’t submerged himself in a sea of waves at one beach or another. The sand between his toes and the lapping water against his skin are the only psychologist he needs in this season.

Each day he will wake with vigour and excitedly open his blinds to assess the day’s weather. Slipping on that linen shirt, those swimming shorts and that backward cap, he will throw a towel in his bag and a notebook in hand before bursting forth into the day’s warm rays. Breathing seems easier with each breath much deeper than the months before. His shoulders are relaxed and he confidently strolls toward the water, double espresso now likely in hand.

Eye contact with passers by is comfortably met with a smile, nod and polite g’day. He feels in touch with himself and who he is meant to be. He dreams of a life in which he can live this life year round. A life in which these strolls are not interrupted by the need to return to a workplace mandated only by a requirement to ‘pay the bills’ and stave away the debt collectors from knocking down his door.

He dreams instead of these strolls being broken up by meetings at beach side cafes in which ideas for innovative businesses and world changing charities are discussed over a coffee or beer. He loathes the idea of needing to distinguish ‘work clothes’ from that which he loves most to wear on days such as these. He does not understand the need to wear a suit and tie when the job brief is to create an innovate. Surely this serves only to suffocate such creative energies from flowing freely?

Though surely these days must come to an end as winter encroaches. He checks his Instagram feed for when he was last able to swim the year before. It’s always far too early. As the days get shorter and the temperature falls, throwbacks begin to fill his feed instead. Often, he cannot even wait until Thursday. Scandalous. Friend’s in opposing seasons will invite him to travel, to hike, to swim and adventure. This year it was Colorado, last year it was Croatia. Though budgetary constraints have held him back of late.

2017 will be the first year in the past five in which he has not enjoyed a Summer, either north or south. He resolves it has to be the last. He poses the idea with friends of creating the means to enable such seasonal adventures to continue. And not just for a month or two. But to enjoy the freedom in which the ability to remain in such a climate year round is possible. Of course they laugh. ‘It’s not practical’, they say. He disagrees. In the back of his mind he knows the means it will require. He knows what he must do. He knows what he must build.

This year has been an important year for him. As he finishes his first tertiary diploma, a possibility and ability he had denied for almost seven years, doors have opened and his confidence has grown. A distinction/high-distinction average has fueled the realisation that he can, in fact, do this. All of those doubts he had on the quality of his work have began to fade.

There are still those that suggest and encourage a route of comfort from here but for him, nothing would seem more uncomfortable. He is a nomad. An adventurer. Never one to shy away from attempting the impossible. Until now, he has often not had the confidence in which to successfully take such leaps. But this has changed.

Of course, these words are written by Winter PJ. It’s July. And there are still thirty-six days and nine hours left of winter this year. But who’s counting? Too many warming additions have been added to his wardrobe this year. This frustrates him. But not as much as the comments, ‘Wow, you look really pale!’. He brushes it off, ‘Haha this is Winter Paul! I’m not designed for this weather!’. He will smile and promptly change the subject. But inside it hurts.

He remembers the time in Year 6 when his classmate Michael called him Snow White. And the time he intentionally belly flopped at the school swimming carnival to give his skin at least a hint of colour. And of course the many days spent laying in the sun by the pool at home despite all of the parental protests and warnings of skin cancer.

Today he sits in his favourite cafe, the weather an encouraging reminder of the Summer that was and will once more soon be. He has found the motivation to write again and to publish at least a snippet of his inner thought catalog. Though a weight of anxiety is still felt pressing down on his chest.

He attempts to understand this weight. Some days he will fight it. Some days he will lie about its extent to family and friends. This is not intentional. It’s overwhelmingly confusing to understand for himself let alone to explain to others. He will try and accept it. And will wonder if it will ever go away. He knows that it will. But it’s hard to believe sometimes. He remembers what his Dad used to say on the days he didn’t want to get up and go to school, ‘Feet to the floor!’. Some days this will take longer than others. But he’s always glad that he does.

There is the feeling that anxiety will always remain a part of his life. And that he must learn not to fight it but leverage the positive role it plays. He rationalises the pain it causes with the benefit it will one day offer. However, this does not lessen the level of pain felt.

He is a fighter, however, and he will keep fighting, despite thoughts at times of an easier alternative. Perhaps these thoughts now are a derivative of this seasonal discomfort? And that just as the seasons change so too will this perspective on present feeling? He hopes this will prove to be the case.

Thirty-six days, eight hours and twenty-two minutes.

PJ.