“The opposite of play isn’t work. It’s depression.”
Having never attended school (a fairly unconventional upbringing), I won a scholarship at 16. This turned out to be a pivotal event. I went onto university, followed by the City (that was unexpected…)
This chapter took me across the world. My initial stomping ground was at EY in management consulting. I later moved into investment management, joining BlackRock. I loved working with mega blue-chip financial services organisations, and on a bit of a mission with a healthy disdain for sleep, by 30 I had qualified as a CFA charterholder and completed an MBA. With a toddler and newborn along for the ride!
I fully subscribed to the story we hear (and tell ourselves) that the route to happiness lies squarely in objective markers of success. But however many times I set my next challenge or goal – and reached it – I always found myself missing something. Something I couldn’t quite articulate.
Getting real, from a young age I suffered from bouts of low mental health. I didn’t know how to feel better during these periods other than finding new ways to stretch myself. Opposing work and play, as so many of us do, I embraced work to inform my sense of identity and self-esteem. I saw play as something for creatives, ‘playful people’ or children (i.e. not me).
But when P brought a powerful, more diverse idea of play to me, I felt something click! I started on my own journey to integrate its myriad of benefits into my life. Now, I’m still just as obsessed with results. But I can achieve them in a way that is enjoyable, energising and fulfilling – in a way that feels like play to me.