Released On 25th May 2022
Ruban's blog: Time out: London
It’s been 5 weeks since I have been sat at a desk and logged onto my work laptop. I am impressed I can even remember the password and avoid the ignominy of explaining why I forgot it without blaming middle-aged memory loss.
It has now been 5 weeks and 15 minutes and I have deduced from perusing my emails, that the world has managed to function without me. I do not know whether to be happy or sad about that. About 7 hours later, I remembered (partially) why I had taken time off in the first place…..
It has been a tough old 2 years for everyone, regardless of whether you are young, old, parent or single. It has caused an immeasurable, and somewhat undetectable, change to our health and I am not sure whether we are only now seeing some of the impact as we hurtle into a mask-free, ‘pile onto the Tube’ kind of life again. A new world where Boris Johnson can once again scoff cheese and wine without fear of reprisal and….oh wait a minute.
For those of you that may have read my previous posts, you may be familiar with my story which involved raising 2 very young children whilst coming to terms with the loss of my mother-in-law and seeing my father-in-law suffer a stroke and covid shortly after. Many, if not all of you will have experienced challenges over the last two years navigating through life while having a pandemic thrown at you just to spice things up. I could imagine that you were expected to keep a stiff upper lip and ‘keep calm and carry on’. As friendly and understanding as your employer may be, you still had to deliver that piece of work. As angelic and cute as your children may be, you still had to put food on the table for them. Whether it was put on you, or whether you felt that you had to, we still had to deliver. To deliver during an important meeting whilst your child walks in with looking dishevelled and demanding a snack. To deliver an important sales pitch whilst looking at distracted-looking people in boxes on a screen that resembles a high-tech version of (warning: obscure cult reference) Celebrity Squares.
Managing children, life, and work admin (amongst many other things) leaves little room to manage yourself. I found myself struggling to maintain a sense of ‘me’ and what that really meant. Something had to give, and I came to the decision that I needed some time off to walk away from work and reset. This time off did not necessarily mean trying to escape life as I knew it, but to gain ‘headspace’ to be able to park some thoughts and revisit some neglected ones. Our minds are filled with so many things that demand our attention straightaway; critical things such as getting to the Bridgerton finale as soon as possible or updating our online profile with an artistic picture of the pretty pattern made in your morning coffee foam. Not to mention making sure you send in your child’s school application form, energy meter readings, and credit card bill payment on time. The time had come to slow down.
I spent a lot of my time off walking around London, getting reacquainted with places I had not seen in two years. While I’m probably paying for it with my health in a different way, given the air pollution, it was liberating to be able to walk and take heed of the minute details hidden away in central London. In between walking, I would often pause at a coffee shop and reflect on the things that had required me to take his break and about the people and experiences I cherished most and those that I did not. I contemplated what was important to me and how I would want life to look like once I returned to work. Not everyone has the fortune of being able to take extended periods of time off, but I do feel that we should at a minimum take some time for ourselves now and again to ‘check in’ with how we are doing and where we are going.
Although there was an unsaid pressure to have some sort of grand solution or conclusion to life after my time off, I resisted my head and went with my heart. I wanted to be able to experience my time off, free from any deliverables, and see where it took me. I found it took me to a place of understanding, hope, and creativity. An understanding that it is ok to struggle at times but hope in that I can balance everything a little better once I return to work, and a creativity that can see me achieve new and different heights with talents and skills I have long since buried, but never forgotten. Change is learning how to free ourselves from the cages that we create. Lessia
Ruban is a husband to one amazing wife, father to two wonderful young boys, and a willing slave to all three. When he is not dancing around with a child on his shoulders or ferrying them around on piggyback, he can be seen attempting to kick footballs, save worlds on his Playstation and occasionally audit some things for a lucky City insurance firm.