“What’s the one thing I should teach my child?
The one and only thing that is truly important is that he should be himself. Being in touch with one’s self and comfortable with who you are enables a person to radiate simple unaffected humanity. There is nothing more lovable or more charming or more evolutionary than not having to put on a social mask. That simple unaffected humanity or comfort with your own identity allows a person to behave spontaneously and effortlessly and meet the challenges of life with joyfulness, courage, and confidence no matter what comes their way…” – Deepak Chopra from Walking Wisdom
I spent a lot of my life not comfortable with who I am. I donned many a social mask. I was not enough. I needed a degree. A job. Another degreee. A promotion. A leadership position. More, more, more. About eight years ago if finally occurred to me that I was caught on a cruel, never-ending treadmill and that no matter how many accomplishments gathered, satisfaction was forever fleeting. I was measuring my worth by what others thought about me. And that meant I had to keep achieving to have something to talk about, brag about, in order to give you something to admire about me. I needed to impress you. And when my humaness inevitably resulted in my making a mistake or a mess of things, I was devastated. Not necessarily by the circumstances created by the mistake but by what you must think of me now. I effed it up. You must think I am a loser. You must be able to see through my facade of being fabulous. And now that you had proof that I was just like everyone else, you would no longer be impressed.
The fatigue of keeping up this accomplishment charade and the devastation of worrying about what you thought gave me lots of reasons to want to check out through wine. I was exhausted with the effort of trying to prove I was good enough. And no matter what I had done, it was never enough. When I quit drinking this way of measuring my self-worth became glaringly apparent. Just because I put the wine glass down did not mean this external locus of control died with it. As wonderful as that might have been, without my numbing liquid the “I am not enough” mantra became damn loud. Trying to switch from measuring my worth by what others might think, to what works for me, is way easier to talk than walk.
I find myself at a crossroads right now. I know that the right thing to do is to let my previous profession go. It does not add value to my life. It requires way too much time away from things that matter. I know that I am meant to take a leap of faith and to trust that the next thing will be amazing too. Yet this carefully crafted identity is a safety net that I am having a very hard time letting go. Echoes of “what will I say when people ask me what I do for a living…” are still very much alive and well. Only now that I am fully aware of them, I can greet them properly: “Oh hello ego! You are back and clammering to tell someone all about your professional identity. Hello fear of the unknown and insecurity! You are terrified of trusting that the next thing in your life is exactly what you are born to do… Oh control, there you are! I was wondering when you would show up to take over…”
It seems I have a choice to make:
1. Take the leap of faith that I know I am meant to take
2. Stay here in a profession that no longer serves and try to impress you and stress out about what you think
I laugh as I read that because most people don’t think about me at all and the fact that I think I am so high on their list of thinking topics really indicates how much I am buying my own press. People don’t care. The only person I need to worry about impressing is the one I see in the mirror. Seriously, the measure to indicate how well I am doing this thing called life is not done through my job title or the type of car I drive or the holidays I take or how I look as I head out the door. Rather, the indicator needs to include considerations such as: was I kind to the homeless guy who asked me for money this morning? Did I make eye contact and see him? Did I work to relieve some suffering on the planet? If I had the chance to be kind, did I take it or did I remain on autopilot? Did I reach out to loved ones – even the ones who drive me crazy – and add value to their lives. Because “… in the end when these bones are only bones, all that matters is how much we gave, how much we loved…” (~ John De Kadt) These are the indicators I intend to use to measure my success in life. So in the near future if it looks like: I am comfortable in my own skin; I am not concerned with what others think of me no matter my profession/reputation; I more often than not choose kindness even with those who made a different choice with me = a super successful life. Redefining success. Peace ~