Do we have to do something fabulous to feel worthy successful and accomplished? Do we have to achieve the unobtainable, be extraordinary, win prizes and accumulate accolades to feel good? Are we measured purely by our credentials? When did that happen! I don’t like it. Are we becoming pushy parents, expectations sky high fuelled by our own disillusion and regret? Are our lives still meaningful if they are little? What constitutes a life well lived? Surely it’s more complex than how we pay our bills. More than a job title that defines who we are.
After watching a GCSE presentation evening recently, the emphasis was very much results driven, the cleverest higher achievers rewarded and celebrated. Sarcastically my son and his beautiful friend announced how they are clearly underachievers. Not a single word of praise or a certificate between them to define their combined academic performance in the last five years. I laughed at their attempts to make light of obvious disappointment and reassured them of their beauty, kindness and likeability. No prizes for being lovely. My money would have been on Hannah having best smile.
As I listened to the head boy’s rousing speech encouraging a roomful of young adults to go off and be amazing, to do great things, to cure cancer and invent and design and teach, (no pressure) a small cynical part of me wondered if way too much emphasis is put on the career we choose. Like a Hollywood blockbuster that sweeps the board on Oscar night a small handful of gifted and talented individuals received all of the praise. Finding yourself in the company of brilliance can be both inspirational and depressing (like shopping with no money). As I looked around the school hall I wondered how many disillusioned forty-year-olds were also feeling like they’d spectacularly underachieved. But don’t we all have something to bring to the table, aren’t we all doing our bit, even if it seems small and unimpressive. Surely we all play an intrinsic part in a bigger picture.
Being a woman is particularly tricky in today’s society. If you decide to grow yourself some small people, the working not working thing is a tiresome juggling act. “What do you do?” you will be frequently asked. It’s a loaded question; referring to how you pay for your life not how you choose to live it. “Oh I’m just a housewife; I stay home with the kids” a job with few cash benefits, endless hours, countless tasks and no holidays!!! Not enough? Let’s throw in a proper job to add to the insanity so we don’t lose our minds, right ladies?!!!!
What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s an age old question. My seventeen-year-old already bored half way through a business studies course isn’t as sure as he was this time last year. My fifteen-year-old has no clue as to where she should spend her two weeks work experience this summer;(what about the best years of her life!) I’m all out of suggestions! (Yes yoga teacher was on my list)! But my seven-year-old will happily reply: actor (he wants to be rich; I have assured him we are rich we love, he wants to be rich with money!) magician or comedian (he is rather theatrical and good at jokes) How do we ever really know. And won’t it change over time? Do something that you love I tell them, be happy, be content, be excited, be honest, be kind. Be good.” Oh mum” they roll their eyes “not helpful” they say. Whatever you choose, do it well, do it with heart, do it with enthusiasm.
Try not to work yourself to death, in my fantasy world we would only be allowed to work four days per week. We could pace ourselves and redress the balance. The five to two ratio seems too one-sided and unfair. There would be no need for retirement. Or the constant reminder on social media of how much we hate Mondays, have the hump on Wednesdays and love Friyays!
We could try to push the cynical disillusioned adult to one side and search deep within and find the astronaut, the zoo keeper the seven-year-old magician that has a dream, a calling, a passion. (It doesn’t have to be fancy or spectacular) and try to find a way to do what we love. We could look at our hobbies and interests and feel what resonates with our highest good. A new found love for Yoga led me into the world of stretchy leggings. Never one to flog a dead horse I’ve had more than a few lives within this life, everything is interwoven and beautifully orchestrated as if by a magical force and who knows where selling yoga Leggs will lead me next. What I have done I have tried to do well, with integrity and vigour. Until I haven’t, then it is time to move on. To date, I have won no awards. Does that define me? I sincerely hope not.
Does our not so friendly inner voice talk us into boredom and dislike? Like friendships and marriage and parenting does the job at hand just need a stronger more positive mental attitude? Maybe a fresh approach? A renewed optimistic attitude? To keep us going. Most of us need to work, that’s reality.
There is a quote by Rumi the wise and wonderful Sufi poet……..”Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.
In a world that offers us endless material treats and financial gains and increasing numbers of unhappy, discontented, and disconnected souls maybe finding fulfilling employment is the answer to a happier life. I wish for my children that ability to go deep, to find their heart’s desire and to look forward to every day. They impress me and reward me with their greatness and love. They are my trophies for a job well done. Success I do believe. In my little life.