It is Monday afternoon. I've had several people tell me how powerful and moving a recent feature article I wrote for my company's employee newsletter was. I wrote a posthumous piece on a beloved employee based off of the stories others told me of her. They painted the picture of who she really was and I took that picture, put it down in words and e-mailed it out to over 3,000 people. It did the job.
Moments like that are affirming to me. Nothing is more satisfying than feeling like the thing you loved, the thing you studied, is the thing you're really really good at. You may know you are talented in that arena but it always feels good to be complimented for it. That validation is necessary to keep doing what you love and keep doing it well.
Except when your whole job isn't about that one piece of the passion.
Recently I finished the book "You Are Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Live an Awesome Life," by Jen Sincero. It was a self-help book that actually turned my thinking upside down. It made me question why I want the things that I want (or thought I wanted) and why I'm living the life that I am living.
That is not to say my life sucks and I'm not being "bad ass." I sort of am. But the glaring message throughout the book to me was, "Mary Anna, you're not living your best life. You're not being true to yourself. You're not striving for the greatness you once believed you could achieve." Damn you Sincero. I was comfortable in my comfort zone of blah. I enjoyed working my tail off at a highly stressful yet mostly fulfilling job. I was going to buy a house so I could paint my walls the color I want them and adopt a second dog.
I can't call it a quarter life crisis because I'm almost 30. So, it is a delayed onset of a quarter life crisis. I'm reevaluating everything in my life. Take healthcare as a career field for example. I literally tripped and landed into healthcare. I graduated from college, entered a volunteer program (in healthcare) got hired to maintain my volunteer position for pay (in healthcare) got promoted to the corporate side to use my journalism skills (in healthcare) and am now the PR person for a health system. Seven years of healthcare.
Healthcare has been good to me. But is healthcare where I want to be? Sure healthcare is paying the bills. Healthcare is helping with student loans. Healthcare provides me with health insurance. But if I'm supposed to be living my truth and following my passion, I'm questioning if that passion is indeed, healthcare.
I know my passion lies in writing and storytelling. Basically I love creating things, writing, telling stories and making people laugh. Those are the fundamental cornerstones to "my passion." I get to do a bunch of those things in my current circumstances, but not all of them. I don't feel the level of fulfilled-ness that Sincero is telling me I can feel. But who is she to judge my life? Homegirl made millions of dollars off a book (now two) and gets paid to travel around the world and life coach and give motivational speeches.
The point is, that stupid book make me question everything and I don't like it. That stupid book made me question why I even want to buy a house right now. That stupid book made me question why I haven't done a stand-up comedy open mic night yet. That stupid book made me question why I haven't written a stupid book yet. I know, all of these big dreams sound selfish and my desire to marry my joys and passions make me sound like a naive millennial snowflake who thinks the world owes me pleasure. Believe me, that is not what I think at all. However, I do believe that when my teachers and mentors told me I could be anything I want to be, I believed them and I still do today. There IS value to the power of positive thinking There IS value to looking yourself in the mirror, asking yourself what you want to be doing for the rest of your life and DOING THAT.
People will say "oh you don't have the resources to make that dream a reality" or "you should really be thankful you even have a job in this economy, try to find your joy in your current situation instead of finding a whole new situation." But I can't believe that. I refuse to believe I was put on this earth to work my ass off, pay bills and die.
Now I'm reading "52 ways to live a kick-ass life." Lord help me. But I'm also planning and getting strategic about my future. I'm working out the ways I can live my best life, be fulfilled AND pay the bills/feed my dog. I'm dreamscaping my life and it feels damn good. My biggest worry is that I, a textbook Meyers-Briggs ENFP, am just excited by the "thought" of change and the planning process but won't go through with it. Yet every day I find a new real-time, real-world reminder as to why I HAVE to do this, so maybe this time it is for real.
Until next time....
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