“I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. That’s what it’s all finally about, and that’s what these clues help us to find within ourselves.” ~ Joseph Campbell
I ran into an acquaintance the other day during a long walk through the hills of the neighborhood near my home. She’s a stay-at-home mom. She was lamenting how, now that her kids are getting a little bit older, they don’t need her constant involvement. She said she felt a bit lost. She wasn’t sure what she should be doing, but was sure that she should be doing SOMETHING. She had even given herself a deadline to choose something, anything, before school let out for the summer. BC, she had a well-paid career in the tech industry. Although the pay was great and she was very good at what she did, she didn’t enjoy it. She said, “I don’t know who I am anymore or what I even like to do.” I could relate now that I’m verging on the empty nest.
Then I had a similar conversation with my mom. In retirement she’s exploring new activities and trying to figure out how to spend her time. She even has a friend who, as a certified life coach, is helping senior citizens figure out what to do with the rest of their lives. I laughed because I thought once one reached retirement; one would have all that stuff figured out.
We all go through different transitions in life, as we evolve from one stage to the next, that can sometimes leave us feeling adrift. So often, we place ourselves in roles that we think fit us at a certain place and time or that society thinks we should be in (it’s never good to have the should’s) only to find it’s an awkward fit or makes us unhappy. Then it occurred to me that people don’t spend enough time digging deep into themselves. They go through their days on autopilot, fulfilling the roles they’ve chosen without necessarily taking time to live as their authentic selves. Often, we feel guilty for performing the sort of self-care that brings us back to center and opens up the possiblity of who we are and who we might become. It’s important to step away sometimes, from jobs, children and partners for a bit of solitude to find what lights us up, to reignite that passion for a once favorite activity or to discover a new one.
I suggested to my friend that she take her new love of Pintrest, which she shared about, and create a vision or dream board of all the things that jump out at her. I also advised her to nix her deadline. You can’t rush the discovery of yourself.
“Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.” ~Steven Pressfield