What Are You Trying to Prove?

31 Aug
There has been a strange thought circling around my head for the last few days. For someone else, it may seem very normal, maybe even a way of life, but for me it’s as foreign as picture-taking Asian tourists in New York’s Times Square. The thought is this: I could be a housewife. No, better yet-I kind of want to be a housewife. For real, I could do it. I could really make hot meals to come home to, clean, take care of the kids-make sure everything on the home front is in order. I could do that. Now, this is in no way taking anything away from housewives or making their jobs sound easy. Having the sole responsibility of caring for the needs of a family’s home and those who reside in it is a huge job. This is NOT about if I think being a housewife is a simpler job than being a career woman; no this is about something much deeper.

Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be somebody, do something with my life. I wanted to get out of my hometown, get an education, see things others didn’t or couldn’t, you know, go places. I made it my mission to defy the odds and achieve the many goals that I set before myself. But now, after earning a Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degree, after being an entrepreneur, after becoming a published author, after teaching college courses, owning a house, appearing before groups of people as the keynote speaker, living as far west as California, north as New York, and south as Florida, after all these things, I could really be content as housewife. I remember having a conversation with a good friend of mine a few years back who said something similar to me. She is someone with a Master’s degree, who has owned a business, who has achieved and experienced a lot. She told me that she would be cool if she just got a regular job, got married, and lived a "normal" life. Not only would it be cool, but she secretly desired it. I laughed at her at the time and told her she funny. I understood being tired of constantly pushing yourself to the next level, but giving it all up and returning to the place we’ve been fighting our whole lives to get away from (normalcy), "No way!"

But now I get it. Maybe not exactly what she was eluding to back then, but for me, I get it. My whole life I’ve been trying to prove something; to myself, to others, to the world. I’ve been trying to prove that I am smart enough, strong enough, pretty enough, talented enough, good enough…more than enough. But for the first time in my life, I have absolutely nothing to prove. If I become a millionaire, great. If my books make bestselling status, wonderful. If people start calling me off the hook to get an interview with me (even if it’s Oprah), that’s nice. If none of these things ever happen, that’s cool too. As long as I have people who love me, a roof over my head, food on the table every night, my basic needs and wants met, and a chance to go somewhere new every now and then, I’m content.

I am finally over the rat race. Some people never enter it; others never get out. I am proud of myself for all that has been accomplished, but moving forward, I no longer need these things to feel good about myself. Honestly, I never did, I just thought I did. I think I first began to realize it when I completed my Ph.D. and felt absolutely nothing. I always thought it would be this big moment where I cried and shouted and threw my head back in joy. It wasn’t. The only thing that came to mind was, "That’s it? I am glad that’s over. I can’t believe I did all that for this. A piece of paper." Don’t get the wrong impression; it is great to pursue such a goal, especially when so many before me fought, struggled, and gave their lives so that I could have this privilege. I am eternally grateful. But what I thought I needed for me to feel complete and satisfied, possibly, I never needed at all. Maybe I can say these things because I am on the other side of it all. Whatever it is, I done with proving. Whatever I do from this point on will be about living, loving, and enjoying. Can you say the same or are you still trying to prove something? What are you trying to prove and to whom are you trying to prove it? And once you finally prove yourself, what then?                   

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