By Smita Rewari
I don’t know what I’m doing. While this state of mind may pervade my existence every so often these days I feel like maybe, it’s actually a good thing I feel this way. I recently returned back to my chosen career path after a fairly extended maternity leave that encompassed the care of 2 children that I had back to back and whom I stayed home with for the bulk of their first year of life. I also recently recommitted to writing this year in a way I haven’t really ever done before this. The parallels are quite telling.
My mind feels challenged in a way that feels vaguely familiar: I AM STUDYING AGAIN! I have definitely felt this feeling before but the last time was probably a position I had about 7 years ago and than professional school a couple of years prior to that. Having finally committed to being a part of a writing group with certain submission deadlines and accountabilities involved, I have put myself in the hot spot and I think I am actually enjoying getting “roasted”. My career job involves the same. I am committed to honing these parallel skills with a daily schedule of study,research and practice that is keeping me plugged in in way that I have never been before with either field.
I have to drop my ego and just keep saying to myself “What everyone thinks of me is none of my business”: It’s easier said than done. I’m a pleaser almost ALL the way. Aging has helped in the whole “wisdom” sense of overcoming ego and having children has helped in the sense that I no longer have the time or energy to put into caring that I did prior. So I start every new day at work ready to be humbled once again with some new technology that continues to steepen that learning curve for me and I keep submitting and sharing pieces of my writing and holding back the desire to keep saying “Yeah, I just did this one totally last minute”(so it’s ok if you think it’s total shit).
I have to redefine my own expectations: “I’m going to be in the top 10% of professionals in my chosen field”.” I’m going to publish a book by 30..maybe 35..ok 40”. My expectations have evolved and so has the narrative. I have learnt to go a bit easier on myself. I saw this somewhere in a movie recently- “We all think that taking the path that is hardest is what will reap the greatest benefits..but maybe sometimes, we should take the easier path and just be happy.” I now understand better than ever before what it would really take for me to be in the top 10% of my field and I think I also understand a whole lot better what it actually takes to publish a well written tome. In no way is this an acquiescence on my part to mediocrity but rather a reality check on how I want to balance the various ways I give of myself from here on out in my life.
I’m so very very open to you telling me how to do it: I’ve never had an ego where constructive criticism or mentoring was concerned but this year I have rejoiced in both, in a way that is unparalleled. I drink in the comments from my fellow partners in writing and at work I soak in the mentoring that is offered at whatever level it may be offered. To quote the great sage Ralph W Emerson “Our chief want in life is somebody who will make us do what we can”.
I am more measured in my success and thus also in my failures: When I have a winning day at work I come home and play with my babies and when I do not I come home and play with my babies. Life has been a great teacher and the highs and lows seem to want to level out to a steady middle when true realization of everything becomes clearer. No one feeling or high or success really ultimately matters and so neither does the opposite. We return as we have arrived and we attempt to create while we are able to do so in existence and that is all we can do.
It is starting to seem like I may know more than I think. The challenges that face me these days are put to bed at the end of every day just as I am turning off the lamp in my older daughter’s room after finishing up her last bedtime story. They no longer stay with me and haunt my days endlessly as I would let them in the past. Thus, I work with a greater commitment and I write with more love than ever before and the fact that I am doing it more for myself than ever before is the truly successful piece of it all.