If you haven’t read my last few posts, be sure to do that. This post will make more sense if you have read those previous posts.
Growing up we all had a dream of how life would turn out. In my growing up years, it might have been to get a college degree, get married, and have a family. You know that dream, the one with the Victorian house with the wrap-around porch and the white picket fence.
Some of you may have had the dream of going to college, having a career, and then family. All of your journeys are a bit different. But what I have found is that there comes a point when most women wonder where their dreams went, what is their purpose and there is this nagging voice that says “What next?”
Just to give you an idea of how my life journey played out, please indulge me for a few sentences. Heck, maybe you can relate.
I grew up with the idea that I would go to college, get a degree, get married, and have kids. Along the way, I’d get the house, the car and retire after 40 years. Part of that did happen. I went to college, got married, and had a son. But no degree. I was earning a degree as a young mother and spouse and trying to make a marriage work, all the while drinking more than I should. As I tried to make that marriage work, I morphed into the person I thought could keep her husband happy.
You probably can see the next chapter coming. The big D. After 5 years, we divorced and I became a single mom, who went home to live with her parents. I had earned my degree in that period of time so my career could begin. But the identity I had developed as a wife was gone. Now what? I focused on being a mom, got a teaching job, became a teacher, and came to realize that I had a problem with alcohol. My identity now morphed into a mom, daughter (still living at home), and several days a week I got to stand up and say “I am an alcoholic.” (That definitely wasn’t the plot twist I dreamed of.)
A few years later, met husband #2 and my identity changed again. I morphed into what I thought he wanted me to be and forgot about who I was. I was a sober wife, mother, chief breadwinner, friend, and teacher. And then I continued to be all those things and became an administrator.
With a career advancement often comes a move. And that is exactly what happened. The woman I had become, moved her family to a new location. With marriage, comes bumps and we hit some big ones. I became an unhappy wife, mother, administrator (no friends to speak of in the new location) wondering what she could do to make her marriage work. I started drinking again, thinking that might help.
I’m sure you can guess the next few steps. Job change, move, get sober, divorce, single mom, son graduates, move again, youngest son graduates, job change, move again.
Here is where things changed for me. My house was empty, I wasn’t a wife, the role I played as a mom had changed, my job had changed and I was lost. I didn’t know who I was but I knew a few things:
I wasn’t happy
I didn’t know what my purpose was anymore
I felt empty
I didn’t know where I fit in the world anymore
I knew there was more to be had in life
My health was suffering
Maybe your life journey doesn’t look like this, but perhaps you can relate to those feelings?
Or maybe you see yourself in the middle phases of my journey.
Eckhart Tolle has a great quote that really resonated with me, “When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world.”
Here is where I realized if I was going to figure this out, I needed to understand how I had gotten here. As I researched and as I work with women I have found some universals.
Our lives revolve around our kids, our careers, or both
Here is the paradox: When we have a career, are a mom, or both, our days do revolve around these things. But there is a difference between our routine revolving around family and career and it becoming the entire purpose for our existence.
Make sure you are doing things that you love and that make you who you are. Go out with girlfriends, have hobbies, be involved in volunteer work. Make sure you feed your soul.
We don’t take time to slow down
Often we are so busy doing. Doing for your kids, for your spouse, and for others that we don’t slow down. Soon we forget how to just be.
Take time to meditate, pray, journal, read. There is not much that has to happen right this minute. Very little. Those around you will thank you. Your body will thank you.
We become reliant on others for our happiness
We begin to depend on others to “make” us happy. When our spouse doesn’t do what we want them to, we become unhappy. If our kids are experiencing some challenges, we worry about how to help them.
Always remember that the only person that can make you happy is yourself. Happiness is an inside job that depends on no one else. If we are unhappy, it is our job to figure out why and come up with solutions.
Our Self Worth is totally reliant on the roles we play
Mom, wife, friend, job title. We often wrap our self worth around the things we “do”. When we can’t define ourselves without having a role attached, we start to forget who we are. Is this true with you?
We don’t speak our truth
I don’t think I’m the only one who has been caught here. “I’m fine,” when I’m really not. “Sure, I’d like to do that,” when I really wouldn’t. Or the times someone has said something that we know we should say something about and we don’t? These are the times we start to lose ourselves.
I’ve spoken with so many women who don’t know who they are anymore because they have gotten caught in the routine of what we often do as women. My hope is that something resonates with you and begin to think about who you want to be when you grow up. Or even tomorrow. Who will you be?