Do you ever have those moments when ask yourself: “Why am I doing this?” I suspect everyone at least occasionally has one of those poignant experiences when you question your motives. Are you really doing what you do because you want to? Is for ease? Let’s be honest, we all cave at moments to simply indulge in what comedian Jim Gaffigan affectionately refers to as “McDonald’s”. Or is it out of anger, remorse, duty, or even fear?
Recently I’ve been having a lot of these thoughts, trying to be really honest with myself about what I want my life ahead to look like. I’ve had to face a harsh reality: my career of over a decade that I put years of sweat and love into preparing for and excelling in will never allow me to grow in many ways I want to.
So what is one to do in this situation? There’s always ignoring the dissatisfaction and settling with what you know. There is the chance to attempt something new with potential to fall hard on your face. But, there is also that chance you will achieve or even exceed dreams that are otherwise unattainable. You never know what you can do unless you try.
This crossroads is where I found myself last week as I sat on my plush sofa one snowy day, reading through Glassdoor’s Top 100 Jobs list and trying to be brutally honest with myself about how to best blend my professional and personal goals. This terrifies me. I am the person who always has a safe plan and a fall back. I was the kid who slowly and cautiously got into the pool, starting by just dipping my fingers and toes. When the ski slope seemed to steep, rather than dive bombing down and risking numerous falls, I slid down on my rear-end, refusing to even attempt the scary task.
Why am I like this? A moment of clarity came this weekend as I was baking holiday treats with my mom. As we rushed to shape mini pie crusts, she pointed down at a crust I had just finished and said, “This is unacceptable.” I looked at her for a moment, paused, and we both burst into laughter. There is undeniably a tendency among the women in my family to be perfectionists. My sister, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother were/are all intelligent, hard working, and in my opinion, pretty phenomenal human beings. Each generation is a little less high strung than the previous, but there is still work to be done.
As I sat, watching the snow fall peacefully to the earth, feeling fearful about my future and tempted to give up on my aspirations, a friend reminded me, “Dawn, you’re not perfect…and that’s okay.” Thank you Captain Obvious! But really, I needed to hear those words and just face the fact that it’s okay to not have all the answers or only pursue what you know you are going to rock. Sometimes we need to fall, and even fall hard before we can truly soar.
Khalil Gibran wrote: “To go forward is to move toward perfection. March on, and fear not the thorns, or the sharp stones on life’s path.” I think it’s fair to say I’m not planning on reaching perfection any time soon, but I think it’s time to take that dive into something new. It may not be very graceful, but it’s okay to take risks. Without them, do we ever really live?