March 11, 2010
Visions of the Future
I’m taking on a big task today. I’m facing those nasty “shoulds” that have been hounding me for years now, not only originating from my own perfectionism and unrealistic expectations for myself, but also other people’s expectations and ideas of what I “should” be doing with my life. I was a pretty smart kid – skipped two grades, graduated high school early, went to college on full scholarship at 17 years old, etc. School was just always easy for me. After I graduated college, I really had no clue what I wanted to do, but I kind of took it for granted that I would get a post-graduate degree. I considered several options, including law school, business school, or going for a Masters or PhD. However, nothing ever seemed to really fit, and honestly, while I did miss the learning aspect of education, I didn’t really relish the idea of going back to school for another three to five years. So for three years now I’ve been going back and forth with the idea, getting input from other people, and changing my mind every few weeks it seems.
Friends, family, and coworkers have also felt the need to “advise” me as to my life path. My boss encouraged me towards business, my aunt practically begged me to become a lawyer, and a close friend of mine even told me that if I didn’t go to grad school, he would be “disappointed” and that I would not be “living up” to my “potential.” So here I am, bombarded with all of these pressures, on top of the nagging voice in my head saying “If you don’t, you’ll regret it!” and “Don’t sell yourself short!” So great was my anxiety over the issue that it was the topic of many sessions with my therapist. She presented me with a very important question that, at the time, I could not even answer: “What do YOU want?”
The query stumped me. I didn’t really know. I just had this expectation built up that I was going to become something “great,” and somehow that translated into becoming some sort of professional with multiple degrees. But how did I define “great”? What would I consider as “living up to my potential”? What do I want to do with my life? Who do I want to be? What would make ME happy? At the time, I was so overwhelmed by opinions and expectations that I couldn’t even identify my own inner voice. I just assumed that the only way I could ever be happy with myself was if I went back to school… But what if I didn’t? What if I decided grad school wasn’t the thing for me, at least for right now? What if I decided on another path? For a long time, I couldn’t find those answers within myself, and I continued in my discontentment and lack of direction.
Yesterday I had an enormous breakthrough. I was able to identify those things that make me the happiest. I realized that going to grad school at this time in my life would NOT make me the happiest. Sure, I could do it, no doubt. But do I want to? No. What makes me happy? Expressing myself through music and writing. Being a daughter, sister, friend. Being involved in my church. Learning on my own through good books. Trying in some small way to make a difference in this world. Volunteering. Loving. Enjoying nature. Discovering who I am and just being that woman, no more, no less.
What do I want for my life? What do I hope to become when I am recovered and healthy in every way? I will tell you.
First and foremost, I want to be a wife and mother someday. I want to have a beautiful, peaceful home full of love and happiness. I want to be a wonderful lover, best friend, and incredible wife to the husband I hope to have one day. I want to have children. I want silly things like… Surprising my husband when he comes home from work with a candlelight dinner. Tucking my children into bed and telling them stories I make up from the top of my head. Taking my kids to soccer practice and ballet lessons. Going on romantic picnics with my husband. I want a flower garden. I want to invent delicious and healthful meals for my family. I want the kind of home that my kids’ friends will love to hang out at. I want to teach my children how to love God, others, and themselves. I want my home to be full of warmth, love, music, and laughter.
I want to be a supportive and loving daughter to my parents. I want to be a positive example to my younger siblings, especially my little sister as she becomes a teenager. I want to be there for my family whenever they need me.
I want to be a published writer.
I want to go to a community college and get an associates degree in music and become a music teacher. I want to give piano lessons in my home. I want to write my own songs and maybe someday make an album.
I want to travel when I can and see as much of this beautiful world as possible.
I want to serve in my church.
I want to keep learning for the rest of my life, and developing new skills.
I want to live my life with passion, taking advantage of every opportunity that comes my way and living life to the fullest.
I want to change the world for good in some way and let my light shine. I want to be a conduit of God’s love and an instrument in His hands to lift His children. I want to inspire others and help those in need in whatever way God has planned.
I don’t need to be a lawyer or doctor to be happy and make a difference in the world. I might still do that someday when my kids are grown, but it is not what I feel is best right now. The last time I was in the hospital, I had this overwhelming feeling that I have something important to do with my life, and that is why God needs me here. I’m not sure what that is yet, but I believe as I do those things I listed above – the things that make me and others around me happy – I will surely discover my purpose.
Finally, I feel free from those expectations and “shoulds” I had bound myself with for so long. Free to enjoy my life. Free to be all that I can be. Free to reach my true potential.