Clearing out and re-purposing

Toto the Terrier ‘helping’ me revise

I spent an hour this evening clearing out a corner of a ‘cupboard of doom’ in my bedroom. It has taken me five years to finally address my storage box full of writing. Pages and post-its of my own hand-writing. I would love to say that this clear out was a cathartic exercise but in truth it put me in a downcast mood for a short while. There were pages and pages and boxes of writing, I am not exaggerating — I stopped myself from getting up from my cross legged position on the floor to find my phone for a photo, but what was the point of that? I thought to myself. To prove something to myself? To others? To you?

I have written a storage box full of words. Words in the English language (although that could be debatable), words of reflections, paraphrasing and shorthand notes of clever people’s better words, essay structures, exam reminders. Big words, small words, words I’m convinced I read for the first time clearing the box today. Words like the ones I’m typing now, meaningless to most but meaningful to me at the time of writing them.

And my downcast mood? What on earth, I started wondering to myself while sifting through the reams of paper, was all this work for? Other than for the recycling collectors to tip into the back of the paper section of the lorry, tomorrow morning? What I really needed those five years ago (I ruminated while separating the paper from the plastic wallets) was a master class in self-confidence not a full-time Masters in Occupational Psychology while also working full-time (yes, it was hardcore).

What have all those hand-written words and printed academic papers done for me? I internally lamented.

A delicious husband-cooked vegetable curry on the right side of spicy and small glass of wine later, I remembered why I had done all that work then and continue to study now.

First, the bad news:

I am not earning very much more than I did when I started my Masters degree, other than minimal inflationary pay increases. “Lean In”, Sheryl Sandberg told us. “Easily said than done”, I reply.

I am still in the intensely frustrating (albeit with the loveliest people) same job.

My self-esteem remains a constant battle.

I hold huge amounts of resentment of others and myself — in equal measures — for all of the above.

And now, the good news:

I discovered a passion for my (and I use the term lightly) ‘research’ area — biophilia and well-being at work.

There are books written by ridiculously clever people and lectures delivered by exceptional talents every day, which I am consistently and ever inspired by.

I have found and am always honing my public speaking voice — not perfect, but, at least in my mind, passion speaks louder than perfection.

I know exactly what I don’t want and I am a little clearer about what I do want, in life and work.

And, I am grateful for the gift of sharing and, although not often as I’d like, applying this knowledge.

I’m sorry for tomorrow morning’s recycling collectors, but I needed a purge and I needed this moment to reflect. And, when/if you have a moment of self-doubt about why you’re working so hard and sacrificing social events for deadlines, remember that words and study bring meaning and purpose — and they are what really matter.

Learning and studying are not for the certificate, or graduation, or self-validation, or indeed the earning power. Learning and studying are for the process of learning and growing your meaning and purpose.

Money doesn’t grow on trees, but paper does — and reading and writing are far more enriching and life-enhancing than what you can buy.

And anyway, you can read from and annotate on your screen these days! (Save the trees!).

From an eternal student. x




I’m an Organisational Psychologist and HR practitioner. Driven to enhance people’s working lives. Well-being, leadership; engagement. MSc, CIPD (Assoc), MBPsS

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Naomi Stone

Naomi Stone

I’m an Organisational Psychologist and HR practitioner. Driven to enhance people’s working lives. Well-being, leadership; engagement. MSc, CIPD (Assoc), MBPsS

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