When my husband and I first talked about moving, traveling, and giving up my practice the idea was I would take time off from working. Primarily so we could travel without the constraints of being committed to working regularly with clients.
This was appealing in some ways (who wouldn’t love the idea of not having to work for a year, or however long), though anything but appealing in other ways.
Who am I if I’m not a psychotherapist? A Social Worker? Earning my own money? Having an office to go to every day? A professional?
I kept trying to talk myself into thinking of it as an opportunity to try something new. More than once since starting my own practice I’ve thought about becoming a pilates or yoga instructor. An interior decorator. Or even a Target associate. Sometimes the responsibility involved with being a Psychotherapist, especially in private practice can be a little....overwhelming.
With such an amazing opportunity in front of me and a very supportive and encouraging husband, I decided to take the year off. Relax, enjoy the break, and see what appeals to me. I know, I am an incredibly lucky woman 🙂 .
But, I kept finding myself feeling sad, like I was grieving a loss. I realized I was so focused on how lucky I was to have this opporunity, thinking about how many people are stuck in situations they may never have the opporunity to change, that I was telling myself I needed to use this time to change direction. To find my new passion in life. I couldn’t waste my good fortune on doing the same thing.
One day I was talking to my husband about finding opportunities for volunteering (there’s only so much beach time one person can have, right?). My husband asked what types of things I would volunteer for. There was no question...something related to abuse, Social Work, shelters, advocacy, counseling. He seemed surprised, saying I thought this was about trying something new. I realized then, this is where my heart, my passion, and my joy are. I don’t think I could ever completely give up my connection to all of you who have or continue to struggle with the impact of abuse and dysfunctional families.
Having this opportunity made me think I would be missing out if I didn’t do something meaningful with it. That I would be wrong for not doing something completely different.
How ridiculus! Having a meaninful life means making time for doing the things you love, spending time with the people who help fill you up, trying new things, exploring all life has to offer. It has been right in front of me this whole time. This is what I love! And this is an opportunity to find more ways to love it. I can’t believe (and I’m a little ashamed to say) I thought there should be something more meaningful for me. I tend to have difficulty thinking outside the box when it comes to thinking of life in all or nothing terms. At least for my own life 😉 .
I don’t know exactly what that’s going to look like yet, but allowing myself to accept my true desires, to accept me as I am, and the ability to continue to contribute in the areas that are so important to me allows me to feel more comfortable stepping back, settling in, and to see what happens. Because I know whatever it is, it will be what I want. Not what I think I should want or what someone else would choose.
Have your roles or expectations in life kept you from living your authentic life? How would things be different for you if you just allowed yourself to follow your desires and dreams instead of getting caught up in what should be? I'd love to hear what you think!