During grad school I started getting so irritated when people bragged about how busy they were. One look at any of my social sites and you’ll see the evidence as I was always posting articles and insta photos about it. It felt like every person I ran into felt compelled to tell me just how hectic and chaotic their schedules were. They wore busy like a badge of honor. But even as I was posting and sharing the, “stop glorifying busy” pieces, I was falling into the exact same trap. I was working during the days, taking classes at night, volunteering for local organizations, and maintaining a full social calendar.
After grad school I continued to live my life in this busy way. I took secret joy in being the first one in the office even though I would complain about always being the one to turn on the lights and make the coffee. I would deliberately stay at work longer than everyone else. I was the first to show up to meetings and usually the most prepared. I kept a full schedule during the work day, sometimes barely leaving enough space between appointments to use the restroom. Not only was I trying to prove my work ethic was strong and something to be admired, but I was relishing in the fact that I, in my own mind, was the “hardest” worker in the place.
Professionally this served me well. I graduated with my master’s degree 2013 and by 2015 I was leading an office as the director. Being busy really seemed to pay dividends for me.
The truth is being busy made me feel empowered and purposeful. Having a lot on my plate brought a lot meaning to my life.
Today, however, my calendar is empty. About two months ago I quit that stable job to start down a new path. You see, in January my first child was born and growing up I had a dream that one day I would be a stay-at-home mom. So with the birth of my son I took a good, hard look at my life. Did I want to continue to be a busy bee trying to climb a professional ladder while now also juggling my growing family? It’s not as if this isn’t possible, many people balance their careers and parenthood exceptionally well. For me, however, the thought alone was overwhelming because I knew the same tenacity that pushed me to be busy at work would be in overdrive pushing me to be twice as busy at home. After many conversations with my husband, friends, and professional colleagues I decided to jump out of the professional rat race and focus more on my family and other professional goals.
Let me backup. I am very privileged. I have a husband who can financially support our family and who believes in me and my dreams. I have dreams that include not only being a very hands-on mother, but also starting my own coaching business. In my mind, I know I’ve been given an incredible opportunity. But in my soul? The current state of nothingness on my calendar at times makes me feel weak, unworthy, kinda empty, and a little pointless.
Of course my son and husband bring me great joy and make me feel needed and worthy everyday. But at this point in my new motherhood/new business journey our days are very fluid. No longer are the days jam-packed with appointments, meetings and conference calls. Now we wake up when we wake up, check email in between feedings and read books that consist of five whole pages.And in this new silence I am learning a very valuable lesson.
I have the opportunity to look inside myself and ask, “Hey, when all of the labels and responsibilities are removed, who are you? What do you really want to do?”.
People change. Our lives evolve. Who we are and what we do and how we go about our days morphs as we grow. And while this can be scary, it is also necessary.
Even though my calendar is empty today, I still have worth and value, it just looks and feels a little different than I am used to.
Maybe you are in-between jobs. Maybe you are stuck in a job you hate. Maybe you want to take a risk and start a new business. Maybe, like me, you want to focus on your family more. Don’t be afraid of failure and don’t feel like your worth relies on how how full your calendar is. Change is hard. But what if you could make the change, push through the silence and find more meaning in life? Wouldn’t it be worth it? Wouldn’t you want to at least say you tried?
You know my answer.
I’m taking this moment of silence and trying to listen to hear what it has to say. I’ll take lazy mornings and long good-nights and try to cherish them. I know my to-do list will not always be so sparse. As my son grows and my business expands, my calendar will also fill. I’m likely to hit a wall someday where I feel even busier than I did in my 8-5 gig. But, in the meantime, I will try to grasp that my worth and meaning don’t need to come from clocking-in, conference calls and bragging about long hours. Yes, it’s okay to be busy, but it’s also okay to ditch busy, if even for a moment, to think about who you are and what you truly want out of this life.