Unfinished Business: Moving beyond the Australian National Apology (2008) towards Indigenous justice

The BSC Blog

Sharon Hartles photoSharon Hartles is a MA Postgraduate Crime and Justice student with the Open University.  She has an interest in crimes of the powerful, including state and state-corporate crime.  In an explicit attempt to move beyond criminology, she draws upon a zemiological approach to evidence the social, political and economic context in which crime is produced and interwoven into society via socio-economic inequalities.

On the 13th February 2008, the seventy-third day of his Prime Ministership and his first act of office, the then Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (on behalf of the government) moved a motion of Apology to the Indigenous Australians in which he stated: “For the pain, suffering and hurt of the stolen generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we are sorry”. Dominant mediated discourse formulated The National Apology in order to offer the spirit of healing, to enable a future in which a new page in…

View original post 921 more words

Busy for the ___?___ reasons

I don’t think I’ve had a complete burnout in life so far but I have had brushes with it through my various chapters, several times. I started being “busy” in my senior years of high school where I cried a lot from my over-commitment issues whilst trying to maintain a personal life I was happy with. Then moments during my university life there was more crying, therapy, fainting and panic attacks. Then during my first graduate job, I found out the fainting was the result of a heart condition that has now been cured through some minor heart surgery; also, more therapy. My first practising role was actually probably my saving grace, notwithstanding a necessary relationship breakup, where I slipped into maintenance therapy and felt a bit more “control”.

I have felt pressured to succeed because I have self-diagnosed imposter syndrome and I am my parent’s retirement plan. Now I find myself, almost 30, in a stimulating career I thoroughly enjoy but haven’t ticked off many “happiness experiences”. Framing a fast-paced satisfying but challenging career in that way, makes me understand why some highly successful people commit suicide. You’re too busy “achieving” that you have no time to “live”. Since high school, I became addicted to smashing goals that I just got used to enduring, with a splash of enjoyment; that I had to do things with wholehearted purpose, whether I enjoyed it or not. I essentially had several hats and tried to juggle them while still achieving 50 other goals at the same time. Of course that approach never works – something eventually gives. This self-inflicted pressure is a figment of success. And maybe I use it to thinly veil some tragic God-complex; doing the most to achieve my goals whilst being the best friend; daughter; sister; cousin; lawyer; indigenous person etc to show everyone I’m amazing – whilst not taking the time to actually personally feel happy and deeply satisfied with the life I’m living.

For an impending partial-burnout, my coping strategies vary depending on my mood and how bad the potential burnout is. I usually measure it in how many plans/appointments/engagements/goals are falling apart concurrently. To counter this said semi-burnout, I go into periods of solitude. My friends have probably witnessed these moments when I completely ignore the world around me, unfortunately including them, because I need to be alone and shut out any stimulus I can’t control and just have nothingness for a while.

I guess I write this in anticipation of some form of burnout this year. There will be a lot of firsts this year that will take up more emotional energy than I’ll allow myself – as always. I’ll need to find my voice a bit more. Be kinder to myself. And prepare for my mental health dips because regarding any goals I set myself – I am my toughest critic.

________________

Lana Lopesi’s piece on burnout pinched where it hurt. A dear friend has been screaming this at me for the last 5 years, although she is just as much a “slave to success” as I am.

We all die. Yet here we are glorifying a sense of busyness that does not serve us when we’re alive, let alone when we’re dead. It literally makes us sick.

I used to walk through life feeling responsible to a community, only later to realise that community was, in many ways, a figment of my imagination. ‘Serving people’ was the self-imposed burden I thought I was carrying by writing art criticism.

My sense of self-worth was tied up with productivity – to be worthy, I felt, required a constant state of production. If what was on my plate ever started to feel achievable, I’d quickly fix that by filling it up again. It’s normal, though, right? Being busy is ordinary! It’s necessary too! Right? With job precarity in the arts we shouldn’t be saying no.

She then went on to look at “Busy as F*ck” syndrome and how it described everyone she knew. I can definitely see how it describes most people in the legal ecosystem I work in. It’s a tough space trying to carve out your advocacy style, be yourself, be relatable to the average layman as well as highly persuasive to some of the smartest people in the country. Peachy task – also slightly schizophrenic or bipolar.

________________

It doesn’t help that I’ve set some outrageous goals this year.

  1. Financial/resources: Buy a house with my parents – who are at retirement age (insert several relevant gifs and memes about how ridiculous this is here)
  2. Physical: Run a half-marathon. I’m not the best at running. I’m semi-good at punching and lifting things.
  3. Career: Do 5 jury trials. Minimum. 10 is better. But I’m still a baby in this space.

There aren’t any happiness goals there. Not an overarching one at least – because they’re little ones in the form of stay-cations to keep me sane through the chaos.

So, as I wrap up this entry, I’m booking an airbnb and a wine-tour for myself in Napier for the Easter break. I have no idea who is coming with me at this stage, but I’m going, because going on road-trips make me happy. I plan on bringing some books I’ve been meaning to finish, my paddle-board (weather permitting) and my yoga mat. ❤

#TeamSelfSabotage

I can be a bit of a princess and self-sabotage a lot of good things in my life in an attempt to “protect” myself based on past experiences (cue childhood trauma and other trauma generally). I’d say a lot of people do this to be honest. One of my girlfriends pointed out a few ex-boyfriends that are now loving husbands, but I cut them off or didn’t invest because of the “what ifs” that put me off. Another girlfriend pointed out how I am addicted to doing the most (cue all the crazy milestones and goals I have to date) because I attach most of my value to my achievements and productivity – I can see why this is slightly toxic because I get annoyed at people around me who aren’t “doing the most” either. I think I get this from my mother who is a workaholic in her workplace and at home.

Anyway, I really want to liberate myself from some of these problematic thoughts or beliefs that I generally hold, so I don’t shoot myself in the foot when I’m trying to shoot my shot – in my relationships (romantic and platonic), career, health and in life.

Below is a list of some of the self-limiting thoughts I want to work on; all this from a few nights reflection on some of the behaviours I thought were toxic – that’s a more personal discussion that I won’t share.

I’ve read a little bit about cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and other therapies that can help with tackling thoughts/behaviours that just don’t serve a purpose anymore – but maybe once used to. I used to see a therapist for specific matters but am trying a bit of self-help CBT and I don’t want to dedicate time to seeing a therapist atm. TBH – the most value I got from her were the questions she asked me when I presented her with a situation or problem I was facing. And the real learning about myself came from the reflection I did on my own, in my own time, after that question, not the time we spent during the one hour session together. Regardless, she was a gem, but I’m attempting to question myself a lot more instead this year rather than booking in with my therapist – not as an attack on my integrity or confidence, but just a quicker way of self-improvement and tackling #selfsabotage

Romantic relationships:

  • I can’t find someone I trust to be emotionally invested and vulnerable with
    • If I’m emotionally invested and vulnerable with my friends, I can find a partner just the same
  • I’m scared of being hurt or deceived again
    • I’m smart enough to use my mind and heart to confront any red flags with integrity, before getting hurt or lied to
  • I can’t find someone who will be emotionally available for me
    • My friends are just as busy with their careers as I am, the right person who is interested enough in me will make time for me in their busy life
  • I don’t trust my decisions with love because of what has happened in the past
    • I trust myself enough to get to know someone long enough with my head and heart to make the right choice

For the romantic relationships that didn’t last, I noticed a trend in what I liked about those people. My first serious boyfriend, it was his confidence, something I didn’t think I had a lot of at the time. I’ve now developed enough confidence that I feel like I have that quality within myself. My second boyfriend, it was his charisma, charm and how he stood up to me. He was able to connect with a range of people and wasn’t shy with sharing his own opinion. I’m now at a point in my life where I think I have that more or less. And finally, the last serious relationship that didn’t work out, I admired his love and dedication for his family. I’m still sour over that one ending because I hoped it would be my last romantic relationship, but anyway, I’m working on building this quality within my own life, which I’m happy to say, is improving a lot.

I like the positive elements of being in a long-term committed relationship. Despite my previous relationships ending for several reasons (the unhealthy ones – because of cheating or deception; the good ones – because of my emotional baggage and just didn’t “connect”), I enjoy having someone to share lots of moments with and someone to count on – in a healthy relationship. I also like how a partner acts as a mirror. How I am with a partner reflects aspects of myself that I sometimes can’t see and amplify inner growth and learning. It’s the complete opposite in an unhealthy relationship – the worst parts of myself were reflected and amplified in a past toxic relationship. There was still learning, but with unnecessary flow-on emotional baggage.

Familial relationships:

  • Some family trauma is so deep for close family members that some familial relationships will never heal
    • People’s perspective and positions can change
  • I haven’t been the best sister I could have been growing up
    • I can start being a better sister now

There may be fewer goals than my romantic ones but, these ones are quite big.

With my sister, we have a 10 year age gap. This always made it interesting spending time together, but usually it would be at home baking/cooking, watching a movie or just hanging out at the beach/park. Sometimes we would go to the movies, the mall, an event or a theatre show (yes I took her to some – because I thought she would do good in the arts and had a curious enough mind to explore emotions), so I think I spent a decent amount of time with her.

I would put pressure on her a lot in high school to achieve as high as she could but she had “checked” out for several reasons (some of which I don’t blame her for at all). I’ve given in to the fact that I was projecting on her, because of some of the ridiculous standards I hold myself to. I think she’s problematic with a lot of things going on in her life at the moment, but regardless, I try and give her my well-intentioned opinion when she asks. She’s turning into an adult after all and her choices should be respected, even if I think it’s wrong. From my projections, telling-offs and high standards, I just hope that I haven’t added to the childhood trauma she may/may not have suffered. What I hope for her, is that she just becomes a person of good character and values in life; treats the people around her with the care and love that we have given her for the most part (I have the same outlook if I were to raise children one day and try to apply the same care-taking process with the relationships/friendships around me).

With the family trauma, this is around a complex set of relationships each reacting to the others around it. And I haven’t taken any time to reflect on what positions each of these people are probably coming from – which is probably the first task, and then trying to make sense of what people actually want and seeing what resolutions might be available (it doesn’t help that people don’t always know what they want either – myself included). I haven’t confronted or made any moves regarding this space in my life because the pain was still raw for most, but I think this year is a good time to begin having some open, constructive and challenging conversations in this area; I hope those conversations can mend relationships or open hearts a bit more. I know I’ve already had one that is positive.

Because I have a beautiful and strong friend network/sisterhood, that I’ll continue to invest in, I think it’s only fair that I give as much time to this family as I do to that – because my family deserve that attention and care, for the same that they’ve given to me. It’s going to be an uphill trail run is all.

Health, work-life balance and wellbeing:

  • My body isn’t designed for particular activities
    • My body will adapt to what activities I want it to do, with consistent attention
  • I don’t have time to get fit
    • I have time for what I prioritise and so I just need better time management & to cut off the fluff
  • I should be working instead of working out
    • Working out gives me a clearer mind for work and the extra blood flow definitely gives me a lot more focus – integral to making me a better advocate
  • I should be focusing on my career and financial goals and taking a break is selfish
    • I need an occasional break (with and without people sometimes) and need to enjoy not just endure life – just a little lol

I don’t even want to go into how much of a workaholic I am. My friend constantly says I fit 87 things into my day, even when others are involved and… she’s not wrong at all. All of my close friends can attest to how I’ve been over an hour late to some social engagement because I was finishing up something else just before seeing them. Or failing to attend at all because I came down with a headache or was too tired after doing everything else before seeing them. I say I want to aim for a lot more balance in the next year but the reality of my move to Whangarei is that is a big fat no. My work-life balance will be non-existent for the next 2 – 3 years (if I can stay up here for that amount of time) which I’m ok with, it’ll just mean that I have to take my breaks alongside the workload ebb and flow. As for the goals around being ‘fit for purpose’, I want to do a lot of different walks/hikes on my future travels so conditioning and being cardio-fit is the aim this year. It’ll be great for if I ever want to do another fight (probably not anytime soon with this mahi) and for future diving experiences (I plan on getting my diving certificate this year so I want to make sure my lungs are big, happy and healthy for that). So far, my routine has been good enough that I can get moving consistently – I haven’t struck the balance I want yet, but we’re getting there.

Career:

  • I’ll never be as competent as others around me, particularly the white male lawyers
    • See the last point – this one is definitely positioned in my identity as a Polynesian female
  • I do not have enough experience
    • I have enough smarts to be strategic for the job right now and learn the intricacies as I go along
  • I don’t belong in this profession because I’m a little too different
    • I shouldn’t minimise the value I offer – I belong because I offer a unique perspective

I’m grateful for these beliefs up until this point in my life, they’ve managed to keep me safe and get me to this not-so-bad point in life thus far. But it’s time to bid farewell.

It was a bit of a profound moment when I questioned why I was so fearful about how stupid I felt when comparing my opinions to other white male lawyers/professionals. I think I have a lot of work to do on this belief that might not be done within 12 months or any specific time frame – but I know I’m hyperaware of it now. I always felt it when trying to bring my ideas and opinions up, which were sometimes validated by that demographic but never specifically identified it as a pattern. It happened when I was at uni and my first few jobs. That’s all I’ll say on that for now but I’m looking forward to exploring why I feel/think that way as I think it’ll be a major personal development point.

Imposter syndrome or impatience?

Throughout primary and secondary education, I didn’t find school hard and thought I was pretty decent at the topics I took and got good grades. That’s not to be arrogant but to set the context. The schools I went to were pretty diverse so I had peers that looked like me and I didn’t feel out of place. I felt like I was doing ok in my tribe. Big fish, small pond.

Then I got to university. The tribe I was in grew exponentially and I was trying to figure out whether I belonged or whether I had to “fit in”. That question dictated my actions for several years following and has politicsed. Small fish, big ocean.

I was trying to find my belonging through the relationships I started, social events I attended and student groups I associated with.

I met people who I thought were way smarter than me. I didn’t get into my first degree choice of “architecture”. My portfolio was crap because I didn’t prepare it properly and prioritised other responsibilities in the lead up to the portfolio deadline. I ended up staring university doing an Arts degree, not even knowing what Arts and Humanities were all about. My imposter syndrome was born on the first day of semester one in 2009.

I got through the semester with decent marks, not having done any study like this before at High School. Come semester two, I decided I would either major in Social Science for Public Health and Anthropology and add on a law degree to dive deeper into the policy space. I don’t know where the heck I got that idea from.

Law school wasn’t my first choice. I don’t know why I thought doing law would help with health policy. Regulatory environment and risk maybe, but because we have ACC, there isn’t much by way of litigation/medical negligence. Regardless, I braved through the dark years of part-two law, got through some papers (miserably) and salvaged some decent grades by the end.

Now that I’m practicing, the law is this huge playground and I have no idea where I want to start but can’t help but feel I’m not getting where I want fast enough or strategically enough. I’ve already thought destructively about my legal career at least twice through all of the unhelpful thinking styles below. My personal fav – compare & despair (which I’m sure many colleagues have had as well).

CSVIoQDUkAAq4qQ

My compare and despair usually centres around:

  • Am I getting enough experience now – to pay off later
  • Am I working hard/ smart/ long enough
  • Am I advancing quick enough
  • Am I smart enough/ how do I improve my logic/quick reasoning faster

This is when I wonder whether I actually have imposter syndrome, or whether I am just being impatient and need to let experience do its thing – i.e. just give it time; and if I’m not setting up my opportunities in order to address the points of concern, then I should just do that.

What is working currently / happy points: 

  • I feel challenged
  • I am making a constant difference
  • I have a lot of autonomy
  • I like doing research and exploring the law and trial strategies
  • I’m pretty good at managing clients
  • I enjoy advocacy
  • Working with diverse client groups
  • I like working with Sam

I am struggling with:

  • Managing client expectations from time to time when we get a difficult one
  • I know I am a millennial but I want mastery and expertness to happen faster – I’ve calmed down and understand I should enjoy the process as well.
  • I am lacking confidence in my ability – I’ve made more lawyer friends who I’m open with (not many are!) to bounce ideas when I’m unsure
  • I need more support and I need to make it happen – I’ve had a coffee with a few more female lawyers (following up on male lawyers before we meet).
  • Reconciling my cultural obligations (silent) expected of me in the day to day life of the world I operate in.
  • How do I set myself up in the short-term for the medium or long-term gains. Including my living situation/environment
  • How do I present myself as a strong/bright and humble Pacific female lawyer without being invisible?
  • Differences are valuable – what is my point of difference?
  • Example of my imposter syndrome flaring i.e. in Court where I hadn’t practiced something orally.

Some possible positive solutions:

  • Find a range of support and mentoring interventions including sound-boards (people at my level willing to tell me un/realistic my aspirations are)
  • Use my boss to talk through day to day casework as per usual
  • Find a Polynesian women barrister for lots of reasons;  about law, being a PI female lawyer, cases, etc – have found 4 from diff area’s of law (2 poly; 2 not)
  • A male experienced criminal lawyer to discuss cases – still struggle with this.
  • Find an experienced and reputable clinical psychologist to help with occasional support and advice.   Good for making sense of difficult cases, boundary-setting strategies and also your own mental health and resilience – I’ve been seeing a counsellor every so often, which helps (not sure whether to remain or seek a clinical psych. Like you recommended).
  • Use an occasional expert “other” outside of the law to enable you to set goals and strategize about the future
  • Set up a group of like-minded people in law around your age whom  you like and trust to meet informally every 3 months or so to catch up/talk about common issues in law and have some laughs
  • Build a bigger network of people you like and trust outside of law to make sense of all the issues people in normal jobs and life deal with at this age – these are a group of close gfs. We don’t catch up too often as a group, but definitely three times a year.
  • Talk to a range of people inside and outside of law and find some interesting short term legal post-grad learning opportunities in the US.  Use TEC and the Law Society to find funding options, scholarships (e.g. PM Scholarship, etc) – am looking to enroll and finish my PGDip in Public health (6 more 15 point papers to complete); applying for a pacific island leadership fellowship 4-month programme funded by USA (Hawaii and Taiwan based).

There are a quite a few Pasifika/ indigenous lawyers doing amazing things now. And I am inspired by them & my peers. I would like to attempt becoming a “pracademic” of sorts focusing on systemic issues – namely, the health sector/justice sector interface, but before committing to any further level of study – I need to make sure these are the things that actually make me happy career-wise.

Staying in legal practice

Apparently for my personality, working in law is a good fit. I’ve done a few personality tests (MBTI = ENTJ; DISC and others) and my star-sign says law is a good fit or the type of work involved in this space. Of course, there is the cultural lense that comes with that as well. In any case, none of that matters anyway because the only important thing is whether I enjoy it.

I know I want to stay in practice for a while longer – maybe another 5 years or so. Maybe venture into in-house legal at some point if I decide that I want to enjoy family life a little more without the trial litigation space. I’m not sure my mind would be able to sit still – I would need to definitely be a pracademic if so.

 

Like me

I hated studying criminal law at university. It’s a compulsory paper so it was endured. Granted I was intrigued at the health system and criminal justice system overlap (or lack thereof) particularly in relation to insanity, dealing with offenders with physical/mental health issues and so forth.

The main reason I went to law school was to bolster my understanding of public law to apply that to health policy/health-anything. A lot of my family have died due to chronic disease so I took an interest in the systemic levers that influenced such things happening; from studying all the “isms”  from a health perspective (there are obviously several alongside the intersectionality of the isms etc.) to individual agency.

I almost hated it as much as studying criminal law. Because the stats you played with for your policy research papers showed that brown people were too fat, too depressed, too dumb and too naughty. In criminal law, brown people were too violent so I switched off immediately; although there is no denying the data. However that’s a later blog post – and numbers never disclose the full story anyway.

Advocating for change from within the health system takes decades. Of course, I should have known that. But I didn’t know that several years ago. My parents worked in factories all their lives. The most political discussions we had were about family affairs and how the church was taking out yet another loan to do something for God. So was it wrong of me to take at least a little bit of the university marketing to heart and believe I really could make a difference after getting a degree? That view naturally dissipated as I got closer to graduating.

My parent’s saw the same marketing so it had a compound effect.

Chuckles in polynesian cycnism.

On application when I finally started working on business cases, projects and operational issues within a DHB context, there were several issues I couldn’t stand. The system is so noisy with bureaucracy that if you’re not the loudest (i.e. with authority) then you’ll wait until you’re in your mid-fourties with a postgrad until someone listens and acts. That’s the average age of the health workforce by the way – real issues there. And… I don’t like being loud without evidence-base, even if I do think I have strong intuition. So forget being a loud young-person because I don’t feel like it’s my time to make noise music yet.

I left because I felt like my salary was better absorbed in meeting the baseline clinical needs – I.e. a grad nurse is probably more necessary than a grad wannabe manager right now. And I feel like everyone wants to be a manager but not actually do the work, so no thank you.

Almost 2 years ago after taking the leap into practicing criminal law, I’m trying to predict a possible long-term career in it. Or at least something for the next 5ish – 10ish years (then maybe move into some in-house DHB role? I don’t know, there are heaps of options). There are characters from every angle, complex propositions/arguments to deal with and personal/professional challenges galore. It’s exciting stuff. Albeit stressful – but from what I see of my seniors, it’s the standard junior/grad stress of trying to do the most. But when a win is a win – it feels worth it. What type of wins are a win is for a later post too.

I like this job enough to stay in it for a while but it will depend on my growth over the next two to three years with grappling with the trial basics re advocacy. And then figuring out my style.

Anyway, now that I get to experience an angle of “frontline” work in criminal law, I’ve managed to use my moderate grasp of Samoan language to explain legal processes to a client. I’ve also gotten to do some advocacy on a sentence appeal which considered a s 27 cultural report. And I’d like to think I’ve been able to build rapport even with the most difficult of clients (although I took some shit that I shouldn’t have – the MAFS clients are the worst because of the inherent disrespect for women so I can’t even do my job properly).

I’ve also seen an old neighbour appear for a bail hearing, family members at Court and an ex who now works in Corrections. Which has been a little too close to home.

I like to think that I don’t get attached to clients and their stories, my main reason being that I’ve got enough of my own problems to deal with. But from time to time, there are some stories that resonate with me, not because I have been in their shoes necessarily, but because they remind me of some of the people I grew up with. I grew up in a state house in Onehunga before the gentrification started and the income gap grew. As I grew up, I noticed some of my peers go down pathways that bought them to similar situations that have brought clients before me. My peers could have ended up like me, quite a few of them that had great potential. I know some of them ended up dealing with the criminal justice system (sometimes frequently) instead. I think of this one Tongan boy who went to all of the same schools as me; who I thought had a lot of potential and so did others who invested in him. He is now in prison serving time for manslaughter.

I’m aware that those predicaments are not just a factor of their agency; there are the structural and environmental factors which have A HUGE impact on where your life is headed.

In acknowledging that environmental/structural factor, I’ve met other young lawyers working in criminal law who see how broken the system is and want to make a change. I think I’ve found my fit and what I want to do for a while. It feels so cheesy to say that. SO CHEESY. However, I like to think I’ll be able to do some good work. Even if it’s just in a small way for now. For a little while.

Taha tinana – taha hinengaro

Last weekend I got to do the Oxfam 50km trail walk with friends down in Whakatane. It was a lot of fun. I got to spend time with close friends and enjoyed it for the most part. I was in one of my extroverted moods when I started coordinating this and kept our team on track with training, logistics, and fundraising for the 5 months following. I was only slightly emotional just prior to reaching the finish line (as lawyers shouldn’t be emotionless) because I decided on doing Oxfam about 5 months prior and managed to coordinate us up to this point; I was sad it was over but elated that I had gotten us to the end, together.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We finished in 13 hours and 14 minutes with about almost 2 hours worth of “break time”. A decent effort overall. The fastest team finished in 7 hours. The competitive streak in me wants to get closer to that time eventually – but that’s another post.

This weekend I had arranged to volunteer at a youth camp – but I called in a few days before to say I couldn’t participate. The previous few weekends had been full of life, new/nurturing connections and high energy activities. I attended a wedding the weekend before, had a load of life-admin the weekend prior, a 40km walk with our crew prior and was in Wellington for Te Matatini the weekend prior. This weekend, I needed quiet time to reflect. And I did get to do that. I slept most of the day (no hangover from the CBA dinner the day before thank goodness) and got to have some quality alone time.

I’ve realised that I’ve been doing this for 5 years, doing volunteer work for UN Youth NZ, Pacific Society of Reproductive Health and suite of other smaller groups that I jump on the bandwagon for here and there. I’ve helped organise conferences, events, administrative/project work etc. Which has been GREAT in terms of adding to my skillset but ABYSMAL at filling my soul cup directly (It fills my cup indirectly because they either go towards achieving wider career goals later in life or because I get to travel for free – plain honesty there).

On a tangent – the reason I over-extended myself in the first place in 2013 was because I was in a relationship that wasn’t constructive, so I decided to do what ENTJs do best – try to address it but when I couldn’t, work more. I remember the evening I made that decision quite clearly – when I decide I want something, I’ll do everything I can to get it. I’ve had some life-changing experiences because of that decision.

I’ve known for the last 6 months, that I need to step back and fill my time with activities that actually make my soul sing. I used to dance a lot, with Ura Tabu, and I’ve been nostalgiac to this for a while now. I used to paint, draw and play around with photography. And my soul has been craving this creativity since leaping into the world of criminal law and general litigation. I’ve enjoyed this career turn (I hated criminal law at university) but this means I have little emotional energy during my personal time because I’m instead giving it to service. I want to avoid any depressive apathy and that downward spiral when one start’s to lose the humanity in their actions.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Litigation is a high-pressure environment that requires positionality, which is fine in my opinion – if I had activities outside of work that I intrinsically enjoyed on a regular basis. Creating on my own and creating with others is a deeply satisfying experience. Conceptualising some work and then making it. There is a level of connection to self and environment that “creating” can give, which I miss. That may not make sense to some, but I’m confident the creatives would understand.

I’ve got a meeting later today with the two organisations I volunteer with; one as a “coordinator” and the other as a committee member. Both are going through busy periods but I’ll be leaving them both by mid-year and giving myself 12 months beyond that to practice saying “no”. Being a Pacific Islander, one is generally hyper-aware of others’ interests ahead of their own.

Here’s to committing to myself, the comedown after a 5 year joy-ride and the pre-30s reinvention.