When someone asks you about yourself, what aspects of your life do you use to describe who you are? Is it your job, your college degree (or lack there of), what your significant other does? Do these factors actually make up who we are, or is there more to it than that?
If you ask me, a person is defined by their values, beliefs, and hobbies. The aspects of my life that make me feel like the truest form of myself and the way I spend my time when no one else is around, those are the aspects of my life that define who I am.
So, today I am here to ask you, what defines you? Who exactly are you? Do you regularly review this with yourself? Are you paying attention to your values and making sure to honor them? Or are you losing site?
It wasn’t too long ago when I started to lose site of who I was. I started to compromise some of my beliefs and forget who I was because I was focused on a paycheck.
It is possible to be too busy.
I used to think that when people said they were too busy it was just an excuse. A lot of times, it is but not always. In a world where managing a hectic schedule is the norm, it can be hard to determine when to draw the line. Let me take you back to when I was working as a nurse.
First thing in the morning, I’d catch my reflection in the mirror and I’d see blood shot eyes accompanied by dark circles underneath. I’d get ready for the day by covering both with eye drops and concealer. My skin was desperate for the sun but I covered that too, with self tanner.
Back when I was in nursing school, I started to understand what it meant to live a purposeful life. I began questioning all of the products I used from skin care to makeup to cleaning products. I started to check ingredient labels of not only foods but the products I was putting on my body as well.
I also started to pay closer attention to the amount of trash I was sending to the landfill. I would take a closer look at the items I was getting rid of and strive to find a new purpose for them. I paid attention and tried to get the most use out of things as I could. I started to understand the true satisfaction of making a small impact in helping preserve our planet. This way of living intentionally became a part of my identity.
Then, I got pregnant and I started to pay a little less attention. Maybe it was the brain fog of pregnancy, or that the intense food cravings were causing me to overlook the packaging and ingredient labels of my food. The desire to prepare for the baby also made me a bit impulsive about buying things that I thought we needed.
I still had purposeful goals though. I wanted to use cloth diapers so we wouldn’t be creating tons of waste, I wanted to have a natural birth free from medical interventions, I wanted to keep using natural/nontoxic products into motherhood.
Then, the diaper sprayer we needed to use for cloth diapering wasn’t compatible with our pipes. Then, I ended up needing a C section. Then, I started working in a hospital and I realized that if I worried about the harmful chemicals in the hand sanitizer that I was slathering myself with (or all of the other toxin exposure), I would make myself crazy because I had no other option. I noticed all of the waste that is produced at hospitals for the sake of preventing infection. This caused me to feel defeated and let go of reducing waste in my personal life because I realized how little control I had. Little by little, my goals were slipping away.
I started to understand the satisfaction of spending the paycheck that I was working so hard for, it was a type of coping mechanism. Impulsive clothing purchases, makeup/skin care items that I didn’t need, completely random subscription boxes. I was so busy that I was making more online purchases and simply trying to live in the most convenient way possible. I was not only letting go of values I believed strongly in but I was losing myself and filling my life with more and more clutter.
So, that’s how I reached this point of looking in the mirror and not knowing exactly who I was looking at. My job didn’t align with my values, making it impossible to live my life in the way I wanted. I was giving up the freedom to decide on the life I would live, all the while clouding my vision even further by buying things. The impulsive purchases were also fooling me into believing that my job was worth losing myself.
Convenience ≠ simplicity
There is so much irony in the concept of convenience. Often, we tell ourselves that by doing the more convenient thing, we are simplifying our lives. But the reality is that convenience does not equal simplicity. By living a “convenient” life, we are actually adding more clutter to our lives.
Convenience can also cause you to lose control in life because you’re no longer buying an item because you need it, you’re buying it because its the easiest option and you feel like you have no other choice.
Do more of what makes you feel human.
As it turns out, quitting my job was exactly what I needed to do to regain my sense of identity. It’s been almost three weeks since I quit my job and slowly but surely, I have been feeling more and more filled with life. At the end of my days, I often feel tired but it is the best feeling of tiredness. Rather than feeling completely drained, dazed, overly stimulated, I feel fulfilled, content, satisfied. I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
Quitting my job was what I needed to do because being at home with my daughter and writing are the things that make me feel the most human. Being able to live and raise my daughter on my own terms is what fills me with life.
I am starting to feel my health improving again, the chronic stress I was under for so long was honestly doing a number on me. Now, I’m getting lots of sunlight and fresh air everyday. I’m moving my body regularly and drinking enough (filtered) water. When I look in the mirror, I no longer see that shadow of myself, drained from life like a deflated balloon. I see a glowing face, filled with life and hope, because I’m living life exactly how I’m supposed to and it shows.
When I think about the fact that I’ve only got one shot at this life, the thought of living in a way that doesn’t fulfill me seems ridiculous. So many people are living in this way and might spend their whole lives like this, never finding their purpose. My heart breaks for those people. I’m not sure how much unresolved pain would have continued to bubble up inside of me if I had continued life as I was and how that would have affected my health and my family.
I understand, sometimes we have no other choice but to focus on that paycheck. People need money, have bills to pay, mouths to feed. This is why it is important to pay attention. Pay attention to what you believe in and how you are feeling everyday. That way, even if you have to stick it out and stay at your job because you truly need the money, you’re aware of the fact that once you have the means, you need to re-evaluate. If you’re aware of the fact that you need to make a change ASAP, then you can start stashing money away now and plan for a future of freedom and living with purpose.
I know it all sounds so cheesy but trust me, when it comes to life, you get one. Just think about that for a minute. You have one chance to live the life you want. Don’t waste it.