I spent years trying to show myself worthy of the title I had been given on my business card. Not only did I work hard. I overworked. I came in early during the week, often getting there before my staff started their day. I left late, skipped lunches and put my personal life on hold. I worked weekends often and holidays. I alienated my husband at night so I could “get work done,” often staying awake into the late hours, pounding the keys by laptop light to the sound of him snoring next to me. I used vacation time to schedule doctor’s appointments, surgeries and overdue household maintenance. I had to feel like I was on death’s door to take a sick day. I never stopped.
I was like so many people, looking for meaning in all the wrong places. I expected that a pat on the back and “good job, girl,” at the end of the day would make it all okay. I expected to feel like I had accomplished something. I became a person who was not confident in my own abilities. I convinced myself that if I stepped away, took a breath or unplugged that it would all fall apart and the destruction would be my fault.
But when you are not operating in your God-given purpose, He has a way of putting a mirror in your face. He showed me to myself in the way that only he could. I had settled and made excuses for why I couldn’t move on. I saw others leave and chase their dreams and I was truly happy for them…and jealous. Why couldn’t I let go too? Why couldn’t I get off of the train?
Then I would go put out a metaphorical fire and say to myself, “Well, I can’t leave. I’m needed here. What would happen if I wasn’t here?”
It would be unfair to say that my so-called career was holding me hostage. No, I wasn’t being forced to do anything. In seeking constant approval and waiting to hear that giving my all was enough, I did that to myself. My personal relationships were suffering due to neglect and my marriage was a roller coaster of disappointments, miscommunication, anger and sadness. Marriages are like houseplants after all, if you don’t feed and water them, they die. I actually surrendered my two dogs because I no longer had the time to care for, walk daily, groom and take them to the vet on schedule. I chose work over everything.
So, one day I found myself in a bathroom stall at work, crying and struggling to breathe in between blubbering sobs. Someone had just made it clear that they didn’t value who I was. I felt crumpled up and thrown away. I put my emotional breakdown on a schedule. I had a meeting in 15 minutes, so I had to pull together by then. I wasn’t an emotional person, but I cried a lot in those months – in the car on the way to work, in the shower or pretty much anytime I found a quiet moment alone. I would tell myself to “stop it,” because nothing was wrong. I should be grateful. I had a job and others didn’t.
I covered my face and asked the question out loud, “I have done EVERYTHING for these people! Why isn’t it enough?”
I called my husband, expecting him to give me one of his speeches about how I would be okay, but instead he said to me, “Don’t worry about it. You won’t be there long.” He saw how hard I worked and what I sacrificed. He was empathetic, but I could also tell he was mad.
That was what I needed – permission. I was loyal to a fault. I would stick with someone or something with the optimistic hope that it will all work out, even when it’s toxic or no longer beneficial. But my husband let me off the hook. He let me know that all I had done was more than enough and it was time to gracefully bow out.
Over the months that followed, I continued to work hard, but I also let go. I let go of the worry I carried about not being liked, appreciated and acknowledged. I stopped caring about all of the superficial things that had kept me bondage. I began to pour my energy into my marriage and my husband, we took a vacation to Florida and I totally unplugged. I didn’t care if the building caught fire. I knew no matter what happened without me, they would figure it out.
My stress level was the lowest it had been in about 4 years. My husband and I discussed a timeline for me to resign and exit my job. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do next, but I chose to trust God in guiding my steps to the next season of life. About two months after our vacation, I found out that I was pregnant after two and a half years of trying! So there it was…my purpose defined. I began to do research and plan for life as a homemaker and mom and I have never looked back.
I am a beautiful, creative, ambitious, intelligent and independent woman. I am not the type to walk into a room of strangers, shake a dozen hands and chat it up like a politician and that’s okay. I don’t care what people would like me to be. I know now that I am who I am meant to be. Never again will I put myself in a place where I work so hard to be like someone else.
We are who we are for a reason. I worked for eight years helping someone else fulfill their life’s mission before realizing how far outside of my own I actually was.
Life is too short to live it outside of my purpose.