It is funny that we make our major life decisions in the most nascent stages of adulthood, minus any experience or reality checks, and all between our early twenties and early thirties. Truth be told, clarity on what you really want to do with yourself comes only after you have lived through your decisions for a bit.
Much like The Very Hungry Caterpillar I hungered for the right mix
From being a full-time working professional to being a nomad who switches cities every two years to a freelancer to then becoming a mother and a work-from-home-mom, the working landscapes changed considerably for me. I craved for balance as I sat through days of unemployment and frustrations and also many super fun Sunday-ish days that lasted me well.
To just live a retired life at 30 was like failing an exam and many equated it to a lack of ambition and aspiration, even a lack of self-respect.
I hungered for the right mix of people and situations I believed would help me shine into being all that I am truly capable of. Only when neither the situations nor the people played up that I realised I was looking in the wrong place, the right mix of all that I need to do for myself lies within me.
At 35, I asked myself the question we check at 18: “What do I want to do with myself?”
The Process of Becoming You
Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, she became a butterfly.Barbara Haines Howett
My aim was to be at two ends of a continuum at the same time, where I was present around my tiny family and be the working woman who is maxing out her potential at work. Clearly, a delusional aspiration as the trade-offs were clear and inevitable.
I was willing to negotiate around my work options but was not ready to compromise on being my whole self and that meant I needed to be both—a stay-at-home-mom and a working-mom.
As they say, “Necessity is the mother of inventions”, technology came to the rescue with online assignments in my line of work as well as in work territories I didn’t even know existed. My professional drive was satiated partially but in a very fragmented manner. The assignments I took were so diversified in nature that when put together I still didn’t know what I was doing or what I wanted to do and had almost nothing to show for it. Yet I felt empowered.
Empowerment: When you can see within and get real about what you can do with, and for, yourself
My effort to keep finding my feet in my volatile life empowered me with resilience and flexibility like I had never known. I learnt to bounce back from my professional slumber every time there was a slump or work didn’t come in. I experimented and acquired the conviction to take the road less travelled, even if my decisions disagree with the norms. I realised that I could be my whole self and didn’t have to settle for the choices I made at 18, 22 or even 30. I could just keep becoming myself. I had stumbled on to the right mix inside me and this was a high I could get used to experiencing more often.
The process of becoming yourself will always start with a doubt. Grant yourself the flexibility of your own time zone to try things out, the flexibility to fail or succeed, to identify and experiment with new spaces for your mental and physical being and even be open to a dead end sometimes. The force of this will to do more while holding on to what you want as status quo will leave you in awe of yourself
The good news is: When I found the right mix inside me, I started meeting the right mix of people and situations in the outside world too. It was serendipity.
The process and the story continues… as I keep becoming myself.
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