“What if the reason we feel so lost has little do with motherhood and everything to do with the fact we never really knew ourselves to begin with?.” Emilie Karun
At 12 years old I woke to an alarm before dawn. I hopped off the top bunk, quiet not to wake my younger sister as I dressed in jeans, thick socks, and an oversized flannel. I rode an old, dirty school bus caked with mud an hour out of town to a massive corn field in the middle of nowhere. We’d arrive just as the sun was breaking the horizon, stabbing golden light through wet, green, endless stalks of corn. Strands of diamond dew drops strung delicately across spidered webs and the faint smell of manure tinged the air. I slipped my hands into thick, corse work gloves and took my place within my crew.
For hours we walked miles and miles of field, pulling each corn tassle from the plant as we passed. A moving wall of child labor, pulling, walking, pressing forward as the crew leader rushed from behind. Drenched and cold from the wet leaves eventually turned to sweltering in the afternoon sun. The leaves turned dry and sharp, slicing our bare arms leaving supersized paper cuts and the sweat burned our corn rash.
This was the first of many jobs, babysitting, busing tables, serving ice cream, waitresses, selling shoes, working in a department store, at a bank and in a customer service call center to name a few.
I’ve worked my entire life. I’ve worked to get what I want. I worked to fit in. I worked to succeed and to earn my place in the world.
I worked all through highschool and put myself through college while working 3 jobs to pay rent and my tuition. I waited tables in a local bar, serving townies cheap beer as they sang bad karaoke until 1 am. I’d shower off the smell of stale beer and cigarette smoke, before falling into bed at 2 am, only to wake 3 hours later. I stumbled in the dark, trying not to wake my roommates as I slipped into cheap dress pants and headed to the insurance customer service call center for my 6:30 am shit. After listening to angry customers and solving complex problems for a few hours, I’d head to class, and end my work day in a bank drive through, cashing other people’s big checks and counting other people’s money.
I refused to be “less than” my friends and peers who had credit cards from mom and dad and their rent and tuition “handled,” so I not only worked to get what I want, I worked to become someone worthy. I prided myself on being self made, on not being delicate like my roomates or shallow like most college girls. I was tough, could change a tire, shovel snow, clean the apartment like a boss, and make everyone breakfast. I earned my way through effort, doing, and found my identity in being unlike those girly girls. I might not have had what they had, but I could certainly be more interesting, more capable, more accomplished.
I prided myself on my independence, my resilience, my toughness, and my ability to get.shit.done.
My work ethic became my story and every bit of my identity was built around being a hard worker.
But who was I without my hard work? Who was I without my accomplishments?
For too long I didn’t know these answers. For even longer, I didn’t even think to ask. Instead of spending any time getting to know myself, hearing the whispers of my soul, or figuring out what I wanted, I hustled. Instead of enjoying life, I conquered it.
I spent the next decade moving farther away from myself and towards all the things I thought would make me. Graduation, college, career, marriage, and family where milestones that marked the passage of time, bricks of accomplishment gathered to build me into a worthy woman.
On the surface I had it all, and yet I wasn’t truly fulfilled. I had never felt more confused and unsettled in my entire life as I had those first 10 years of motherhood. I did everything I was supposed to. I had properly earned my perfect life and achieved it all the “right “ way, and yet I felt completely lost.
Slowly I gathered scraps of inspiration, life rafts that kept me emotionally above water. Beautiful stories, honest accounts, and real inspiration from real mothers and real women who were just like me. They told me I wasn’t alone. They told me motherhood was hard, not because I was doing it wrong, but because it was just damn hard. They made me laugh. They made me cry. They made me feel sane and like less of a failure. When I heard Elizabeth Gilbert say “I’m tired of being good, now all I want is to be free,” I sobbed. I was exhausted to my bones from a lifetime of being the good girl, the good daughter, the good student, the good wife. I was so tired of striving and pushing. Tired of proving. I just wanted to be free.
Free to be myself for once in my life.
Free to enjoy life.
Free to break all the fucking rules and write my own.
Free to dance with life, follow passion, do what light me up, and start showing up as the woman I had always been called to be. What was I here to do with my life? After ignoring the call for 30 years, I decided to answer it wholeheartedly.
If you feel that desire to stop, to rest, to put down all the damn hard work, do it.
If you feel lost and unsure, come back home.
If you know you were made for more but don’t know where to begin or how to figure it out, ask your soul. Life is always speaking to you, nudging you and guiding you towards who you REALLY are and what you’re really here to do, but you can’t hear it when you’re in push. You can’t receive it DO, only in BE.
Who are you without your accomplishments? Who are you without the work? What has life been inviting you to explore. Everything is presenting you with the opportunity to reveal who you truly are. Pay attention. Listen to yourself above all else.
I help women reignite their passion to uncover their purpose. If you are ready to figure out what is next for you, if you want to learn how to stop proving, working, earning and hustling to build your best life and ready to creating it from the inside out, let’s talk. Now accepting 1:1 coaching clients. Contact me to learn more.