I've been doing a lot of soul-searching lately. I wrote last week about decisions I am trying to make about the course of my life from this point on. (click here to read) Whenever I have a decision to make, whether it's choosing a cooktop for my kitchen, a book for my reading list, or what to do with the rest of my life - I do a lot of research. This week, I stumbled upon a TED talk by Alain de Botton called "A Kinder, Gentler Philosophy of Success". I really liked it. So I googled his name and discovered that he is a French philosopher. I didn't even realize being a philosopher was a career possibility in this day and age. I always envision them being ancient and mostly Greek. Anyways, I downloaded one of his books, "Status Anxiety" because I suspected this was the reason for my difficulty making a decision about the course of my life.
"Status anxiety", he explains, is "the feeling that we might, under different circumstances, be something other than what we are - a feeling inspired by exposure to the superior achievements of those whom we take to be our equals - that generates anxiety..."
Who are my "equals"? Other mothers in my age group.
When my children were young, I knew many moms who had left their jobs to be stay-at-home moms. Now, however, most/all moms that I know with children in college are back in the workforce, contributing financially to the household.
We are also surrounded by what Botton calls "snobs". He defines a snob as "anybody who takes a small part of you and uses that to come to a complete picture of who you are". Your answer to their question "What do you do?" defines your entire worth to them.
What does it mean to be "successful" in the world today? Many would say someone is successful if they make a lot of money, are renown in some field, or have acquired a lot of material things.
Botton stresses that "our goals should dictate what we interpret as a triumph and what must count as a catastrophe". Being truly wealthy doesn't require you to have many things. Rather, it requires having what you long for.
When I left the workforce, my husband and I made this decision together. We are a team. His major role was to be the bread-winner. My major role was to be the care-giver. We feel it's important in our family to have someone who is not tied down by business, deadlines, and schedules to be able to respond to all of the little things (and big) that life throws at us.
What are my goals?
What are my goals?
My goals don't involve money, renown, or material things. I have everything I want.
My goals are:
My goals are:
- make our home a warm and welcoming place to be
- continue to have my own passions, both intellectually and creatively, to fill the gap that naturally comes when children grow up and begin to lead their own lives.
In his TED talk, Botton emphasized that in any vision of success, you can't be successful at everything. You can't have it all. There has to be an element of loss.
This element of loss is exactly what I was feeling over the last few years as I was establishing a photography business.
In order to do one really well, the other suffered.
As of this moment, I am officially putting this issue to rest.
I will not continue my Senior photography business as I have for the past two years. I will take jobs on a limited basis as they fit into my life if I want to.
I love photography and feel that there is something else I was meant to do with my skills. I just don't know what that something is - yet.
But I don't need to know that now.
I am at peace.
I am enough.