Today I was reminded about the choices we make, and the possible lives we could lead. When we leave school, it’s a time when we are probably the happiest. We get to be independent but without all the responsibilities that come with being an adult. It is the time where we choose our path, mould our identity in the form of a career and get to have a lot of fun. It doesn’t occur to us that at some point in our future, we may choose to play small.
After school I went to university. I really had to fight and be patient for the privilege of going away to university. I knew that I would have a lot more fun studying in another city from my dysfunctional family so I persisted. And eventually I got to go. It was the first time in my life I got to be young and irresponsible. My childhood didn’t allow that, so I really let my hair down at university. I didn’t do as well academically as I could have, but it was a worthwhile trade off for being able to be reckless and carefree.
I know someone who suffered a great sadness around this time. Someone very smart. Someone who everyone expected to excel in life. I’m wondering how she feels now about what could have been. That event seemed to break her spirit and she never recovered. It looks to me that she made the choice to play small, and I don’t think that serves anyone. I don’t think it’s what God wants, and it doesn’t make you noble or humble. In my view, it’s a lost opportunity to offer gifts to the world. Unique, special gifts that we all possess.
The definition of success is certainly not the same for everyone. Being a successful mother is a very difficult thing to attain, and I’m not sure there are many who feel that they will ever reach that success. I value being a good parent and offering my children all the love and support I feel I didn’t get in my childhood. But it is not everything.
Being true to myself means that I want to achieve professionally. I have things to do in this life and they are big, scary and exciting. I don’t want to look back with regret. I don’t want to feel that I never lived up to my true potential. I want to die knowing that I did something great in my life. Something I’m really proud of. I want to know that I stretched myself and that it was worth it.
Sometimes I wonder if it’s better to push myself, or to learn to accept life just as it is. It’s no wonder I suffer from fatigue with all that driving towards success and obsession with achievement. But I believe that life is for living. I am an advocate of packing life full of experiences. I want my existence to make a difference to the world. I want to leave it better for me having followed my calling and given my absolute best.
That’s the example I want to give my children. Psychologist Carl Jung said that “nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.”
My children wont have to worry about my unlived life, that’s for sure. I may suffer and struggle a great deal but I will have a life that is lived, as fully as I’m capable of. I will not play small.