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.