“Never lose sight of the fact that just being is fun.” – Katharine Hepburn
Today’s modern society has transformed many of us into doers, performers, and over-achievers. That’s how I lived a high amount of my time. I spent 15 years of my life in the corporate world and used to define my worth through my social status and my profession.
At the time, building a successful career meant the world to me. I can recall how I was keeping myself busy all the time, often stressed and always in a rush, and nothing I was doing was good enough. That felt exhausting. I was a perfectionist, and that used to give me a sense of pride as if perfection were a strength or some sign of virtue.
Three years ago, I ended up with no work in a foreign country. I was almost depressed, not knowing what to say when people were asking questions about my profession. The idea of making no income injected my mind with a very wide repertoire of worries, fears, and concerns.
I was lost and stuck, and the way I was labeling myself at the time was quite painful: unemployed. Not only it looked like I had a serious problem to deal with, but I was starting to feel like I was a problem myself.
We all perceive the reality of our experiences filtered through our lenses, the expectations we set on ourselves and others, and our own system of belief. To some people, being unemployed is a fact. Not good or bad, normal or abnormal, right or wrong. To me, it held a strong negative connotation: in a world that generally validates our self-worth through what we do, having no work made me feel like a total failure.
You see, one of the most common questions people ask when making new acquaintances is “What do you do for a living.” Most of us have been trained to define who we are through what we do. Always running somewhere, always busy to get more, and achieve more. That’s why mindful practices as yoga and meditation have become kind of special nowadays: because we tend to forget how just to be.
Some people get sick and depressed once they retire. All of a sudden, they’ve got all the time in the world, and they don’t know what to do with it. Some even feel guilty for having so much available time for themselves, unable to relax and enjoy the small pleasures of life without working.
Looking back on my life, I came to realize I was stuck in this trap:
For too many years, I thought I was my job. And when the job was not in my life any longer, I wasn’t.
Work is where we spend most of our time, so if we’re not happy with at work, we’re ultimately not happy with most of our lives. Most of us need a job, and money is a much-needed instrument for us to survive. But is life supposed to be all about our jobs? Is there no other way to be happy? What if the ultimate purpose of us being here was just to be happy? No matter how, if through the work we do or not?
So here’s what I believe to be true today:
In a society that tends to value self-worth through how well we do things in life (based on individual results, goals, and achievements), many of us have even started to feel guilty for taking a nap or doing nothing.
I have released myself from the “do it all” mentality, and doing nothing doesn’t necessarily mean I’m lazy. As long as it comes from an empowering place of choice – my own choosing – doing nothing is an action! I know I am not a robot, and I often need time to relax and recharge: mind, body, and soul.
Whenever I fail at anything, that doesn’t make me a failure because I am not what I do. My job is part of life and not life itself. I am not my profession, no matter how much I might love it.
Today I am a life coach. I do what I love, and love what I do. I am looking forward to Monday mornings to do soul work with people. However, being a coach is not who I am – I am also a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister and someone’s friend. There are many hats I am wearing in life, and so do you.
Wayne Dyer was right: “You are a human being, not a human doing. Don’t equate your self-worth with how well you do things in life. You aren’t what you do. If you are what you do, then when you don’t…you aren’t.”
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- Posted by Sara Fabian
- On May 29, 2018