Feeling Unfulfilled

When I started thinking about this post, I had had several busy days at work and a busy weekend prior to that, so I was primarily focused on trying to find that elusive work-life balance. I was feeling that I hadn’t accomplished anything but I was still “busy” all the time; I felt my life was lacking fun and centredness. A few days after that, I attended a conference day and was up lifted and inspired by many of the presentations. Gone were the sentiments of malaise and dissatisfaction. This post, then, was to become a tribute to that yearning desire to further my achievements, to become a guiding light (as it were) to future generations in the profession, just as these presenters were for me. I was inspired, I was full of ideas, but most importantly, I was confident. I just didn’t have the time (yet) to write.

Today I finally had the opportunity to put fingers to keyboard and start constructing my future plans. But now, as I write this, those warm and fuzzy feelings, that sense of direction with clear purpose, are all fading into a distant memory. Instead I’m sitting here with my old friends frustration and feelings of inadequacy on either shoulder. I wish that glorious high had lasted longer; I had forgot what a lovely sensation it is to feel like what I do is appreciated, correct, important, and that I truly have the ability to succeed.

Today I understood a connection that has been troubling me for some time. I see now that a familiar place is the source of much of my anxiety and (frequently) overwhelming feelings of ineptitude regarding my abilities as a professional. This really is not surprising, I think that I’ve just internalized differently today. It means more to me today; I am more ready to do something about it today. What exactly I will do, I don’t know. I’m trying to work that out.

I recently heard the idea not to give all you’ve got to your livelihood if it comes at a cost to the ones you hold nearest to your heart; you are replaceable everywhere but in the lives of your loved ones (thank you to Stephanie Staples, CSP for that). This statement rings true for me. I want to be the best at what I do, know the most, be the brightest. Of course, objectively, I know that I cannot possibly be all those things, or even any of those things. And herein lies the struggle: unrealistic expectations of myself coupled with some less than uplifting environments leads to constant self scrutiny, self criticism, and the push that I must always be doing more. On days off, in the car, while doing other activities. It means that more often than not I am left with nothing for my child and partner. Today it struck me: if I’m already feeling undervalued and completely replaceable in one area of life, and I am becoming absent in my personal life, where does a happy and fulfilled me exist? I’m creating a life where there is no safe space, no place to ground myself from the stressors and internal and external oppression. This is not the life I want.

Now the real work begins. I still want to be the best, the smartest, the brightest shining star. But I want strong relationships more. Maybe I’ll never feel like I’ve “made it” or get the approval that makes everything better, but maybe I’ll feel more comfortable living with that. Maybe I won’t, or shouldn’t, continue down this path I never thought I’d leave. Today, I can’t do much about either of those things, but I do see options. What I do know is that right now, every time I pick up my daughter from daycare she shrieks a delighted “mommy!” and runs to me; I know that right now, that is worth the most.

One thought on “Feeling Unfulfilled

  1. This struggle to do it all and do it all well is a constant one, even for those of us without career pursuits on our plates. I remind myself daily to not write in the margins. Leaving myself space between my load and my limit is the best way to keep from giving only my leftovers to the relationships that mean the most to me.
    A family friend used to remind my mother all the time that “It’s not a race.” when she’d be worked up about being late for one thing or another. It has been a life altering mantra for myself. I allow myself to fail my own high expectations from time to time, because it’s not a race. I don’t have to sacrifice good for the sake of perfection. It’s alright to shift priorities, it’s alright to take the longer path with the lighter load.
    Remind yourself that you’re doing a great job! You unfortunately have a career that doesn’t routinely provide you with positive feedback, and Lord knows parenthood is by and large a thankless job. You’re doing amazing!


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