I had to stop what I was doing to get these thoughts down…
As someone with a platform (aka my blog) to display my ramblings and musings, that has been happening a lot lately, these little nuggets of inspiration just sort of come and go.
These days don’t be surprised to find me talking into my phone as I talk-to-text thoughts on my phone’s notepad, or furiously jotting down thoughts in my small floral notebook that’s always with me. It’s like in Mean Girls when Lindsay Lohan mentions word vomit. Except I would consider mine to be thought vomit.
I was mentioning to my mentor the other day that if someone could look inside my brain, it would resemble that of a pinball machine. I happen to know my husband LOVES that about me. I’m just like doing- doing- doing….”so, what’s next? You know what would be cool? Woah! did you see that over there? SQUIRREL!”
Haha…in all seriousness. This topic has really been on my mind lately, and I just have to get it out.
In my life, I am in the process of shifting my perspective from a person trying to uphold various roles to striving to be a person of substance. Not an empty vessel that occupies a role and identifies solely with that role. I feel like we all start off striving to be a person of substance, but at least in my life, I lost that sense of direction somewhere along the way. Truthfully, I started to lose….me.
It’s like I’ve been walking in this foggy mist, drudging through the trenches of confused identity, struggling with the concepts of “what I should do” versus “what I want to do.” Don’t get me wrong, I have experienced amazing and beautiful moments in my life through bouts of seemingly existent clarity. But as I (gracefully, ha) age, I am starting to feel a little more clear as life goes on.
It’s sort of like when you go on a diet and you start to feel better, but you didn’t really have the awareness to begin with that you felt like crap. Or if you’re a parent who operates on little to no sleep and then you get a miraculous night of sleep and you wake up feeling prepared to conquer the world almost forgetting what that feeling is like. That’s sort of what I’ve been feeling like as a whole.
Really, this concept is so simple, yet so complex….
I am ME. I am WHOLE. I have the role of a wife. I have the role of a mother. I have the role of a college graduate. I have the role of an employee. But those things that I play the role of, those are not ME.
This separation of self from role has been sort of brewing just below my surface and applying for jobs in the past year has really brought these feelings to light.
In a quest to be true to myself, I am really digging into “why?” I’ve been peeling back the layers in my head, really slowing down, and taking the more scenic route. I am seeking to find joy in the mundane.
Living a more intentional life forces you to ask “What am I trying to achieve here, and does it bring me joy? Does it support my character?” Or the new blogging buzzword: “my aesthetic” ohhhh fancy.
Recently, I was listening to a Waking up with Sam Harris podcast episode recommended to me by my fasha. (If you read that in Goldmember’s voice, let’s be BEST FRIENDS). The concept of being someone vs something was derived from this podcast, “On Becoming a Better Person.”. It REALLY struck a cord with me.
Sam Harris had a guest on there that was talking about how every human being has 2 sides to their nature: resume virtues and eulogy virtues.
Resume virtues are skills that help us conquer our world, such as things that make us good at our jobs. For example, being an organized person, great communication skills, power point skills, and setting up meetings are some resume virtues I possess.
Eulogy virtues are are the internal parts of us, the qualities of our character. Basically, the things people will remember you by and would say about you at your funeral. If I identified solely with my work role, for example, and did nothing else in life, would I want people saying at my funeral, “well, she was pretty good at making powerpoints.” I mean, have you seen any of my presentations? They’re pretty awesome!
But seriously, you get what I’m saying here.
Another interesting concept presented during this podcast was how we as a society are coaching youth and young adults to be more articulate in building a good career vs being a good person. Now, I know that’s a blanket statement and that’s absolutely not true for some people, BUT, raise your hand if you’ve ever felt like a failure because you didn’t land a job.
ME. ME. PICK ME.
It’s no secret that for most of us, we’re in an environment whose culture emphasizes career more that spirituality or morality. If you’ve gone to a major university, you’ve gots to be feeling me by now. If you work in corporate America, you know its not good juju to really openly talk about spirituality or religion at work.
It gets even better though, beyond that…. there’s the idea of specialization. This idea says that in order to complete a certain task you have to possess the specific qualities, knowledge, and background in order to achieve it.
This may mean absolutely nothing to you, and it didn’t to me at first, but I was like wait, yes! This podcast was putting words in my mouth that I’ve been missing all along.
The problem with specialization is that it causes us to look at things through a narrow focus of different qualities or situations, but not step back and look at the individual or the situation as a whole. From an individual’s perspective, it doesn’t support an evaluation of the entire person. It causes us to abstract from the whole quality of that person or their conduct, and measure up to how they’re doing in specific roles as parents, lawyers, teachers, doctors, etc.
If you’re a super determined person who has had the foresight your entire life to know what you want to be when you grow up, and you’ve set yourself on that path and are totally content with it. AWESOME. Seriously, good for you. You’ve probably really been in tune with yourself all along. Or you’re just easy going and don’t care, which hey, there’s beauty in that as well.
If you’re like me, someone who has a pinball brain and gets really excited to start new things, but struggles to finish something, specialization is my worst enemy. Specialization is a mean bully in high school sticking my freshman head in the toilet and de-pantsing me in the hallway.
I want my hand in all the cookie jars. I want to try everything that I ever find interesting. But the saying “jack of all trades, master of none” exists for a reason.
So, back to the resume vs eulogy virtues. This can be summed up in your talents vs your character. Your talents tell people what you’re good at. Your character is what people remember you by. A person is a creature that possesses a collection of talents, while upholding a specific character.
At the end of the day, our character is what matters. Our eulogy virtues should reign supreme.
Now ask yourself- if you were to die today, what would people say about you? Would they care about what your job title was?
No, they wouldn’t.
They’re going to care about how you made them feel when you interacted with them. They’re going to remember that you were a good person, (or maybe a crappy one, but probably not). They’re going to remember those vulnerable moments that made you a real life certified human being.
Now that I have awareness into being human just a little bit more, I am going to do 2 things moving forward:
I am going to start with myself and my family. I am going to encourage my children to be someONE. I promise to tell Clara that she can be anyONE she wants to be. Not anyTHING.
I am not going to ask people what they do for a living anymore. If I am reduced to small talk, I am going to ask what they do for fun or what their favorite past times are. I don’t care what you do for a living, that’s just another role you’re playing.
So, my message to you, (& to myself), is this:
Do what makes YOU happy. Not your family, or your boss, or your friends. YOU.
Honor the hell out of your strengths, but continue to work on improving your weaknesses….THAT is the definition of a good person. We all make mistakes and we all strive to learn from them. Those are the outliers to our lives, and those help us establish our boundaries.
Chase what ignites your heart, and just stop wishing your life away and make those dreams come true. Whatever you are at work daydreaming about, THAT is what your heart wants. When people come up to you and say “Wow, you’re really good at X, Y, or Z.!” LISTEN to them. Those are your talents.
You are a collection of talents.
You have character.
You are whole.
You are enough.
YOU ARE YOU.
Your path is unique and no one else’s.
Celebrate that…. I know I certainly am.
Sending you sunshine,