Finding Purpose

posted in: anxiety, Popular Posts | 0
I shared not long ago with you the story of having anxiety and my progress.
Since then, I’ve been doing a lot of work to try and understand it, to observe it, to learn how to better live with it.

 

One of the things that I’ve observed is that it has gotten worse these last couple months.  Staying home with my kids was an amazing decision that I know I will never forget. Having said that, I know that it has also knocked my world off its axis.
When I left my job, I left a vast chunk of myself.
I left a job that was worthwhile.  It had purpose and meaning.  Each day I made a difference.
When I told people what I did they were impressed.  They knew I made a difference.
It’s selfish, really, but I think that’s pretty human.  Everyone wants to have purpose.  Everyone wants to feel like they matter.  But I did something terribly wrong.  I built my foundation on that belief, that feeling.  I measured my worth in what I did.
Now, I’m “just a mom”.  In other cultures there would be no doubt about my importance and my role would be revered.  Here, today, I think there is still a feeling amongst some that being “just a mom” is a way of giving up.  Of letting go of your potential. It’s taking the easy way out.
I know, I used to think it myself sometimes.
Honestly, though, it’s the hardest damn job of my life.  I worry every day that I’m doing something wrong.  Am I not supportive enough? Am I too supportive?  Should I hug her or give her space?  How do I create a sense of independence yet make sure she never feels alone?
Not to mention the pressure of answering all the tough questions: Where did God come from? Why are step-parents? Why do some kids have two moms (or dads)? How do babies get out of your belly? Or even worse- how do they get in there?
Then there is the stress, the sleepless nights (YEARS of sleepless nights), the tantrums, the sheer exhaustion, and the disrespect.  There’s the endless amounts of laundry and cleaning the kitchen 4 times in 1 day while trying to keep the kids from killing each other and desperately trying not to teach them new swear words. Did I mention you don’t get days off? Did I mention there is very little “thanks”?  And after all of this, it can be hard to feel appreciated.  At the end of the day it can be difficult to see what difference any of it made.  Sometimes it feels like maybe you made it worse.  Lots worse.
But it does make a difference.  That’s what I’m learning. This job has more impact on the world than I ever would have imagined. I see it everyday if I just stop and actually look.
I’m seeing it in the way they treat one another when they’re sad or hurt.  In the way they are gentle with themselves when they do something wrong.  I see it in their generosity towards friends, family and even strangers.

Most importantly, I’m learning not to pin my importance on what I do.

For so long that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.  Because I’m a good ____, I am worthwhile.
But it wasn’t being a nurse or helping families through crisis that made me valuable.  It is who I am.  Inside.  That’s what made me good at my job in the first place.  It’s all still there.  My overwhelming capacity for empathy, my patience, my ability to connect, and my determination are all things I carry with me and no matter what I do- be it nursing, mothering, or running my own business- I bring them to the table because that is who I am.
I am not what I do.
I am worthwhile because I am a good person.  The world needs those. Now more than ever.
And I’m teaching my children to be good people, too.  I’m affecting people I don’t even realize when I say this out loud or offer a hug, a compliment, extra patience, etc, etc.  I’m teaching my children what it’s like to pursue your dreams and do what brings you joy- that there are options outside of chaining yourself to a desk- that you don’t have to be bitter and hate what you do- that family is important and we make time for them.  Life is about the little things and that is what I am teaching them EVERY DAY.
  However, as much as I love, love, love what I am doing, it can be pretty easy to get down on myself and believe that I’m not contributing.  That I’m without purpose.  It can be a very slippery sloop when you give power to these ideas. Also, it’s hard to see all the wrong in the world and feel like I’m not doing enough.  That I’ve given up and I find myself full circle and plunged into darkness. That’s why I love this video & wanted to share it with you.  It’s about looking through the darkness.  It’s really so amazing- I hope you watch it ALL the way through.
Another thing I’ve learned: Don’t forget to surround yourself with cheerleaders.  They are important. They will help get you through.  No one can pull me out of a funk and help me to change my perspective like my friends and family.  Keep them close. Let them in.
Terrible photo but I just had too, it was so appropriate!