I attended California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) in the Fall immediately following my high school graduation. It was not my first choice, but it served me well and I’m actually quite pleased with having graduated from there with my B.A. in Communications. Before entering the University, I hadn’t a clue what to major in nor what career path to take before I reached my ultimate goal of being a Stay-at-Home Mom. While I did enjoy writing, it fell in the unattainable dream category, as I had no faith in my abilities. With no real direction in mind, I decided to choose my major by default. No joke. I sat down to the list of majors available at CSUF and
crossed them off the list one by one until only one remained. The result was Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations (PR).
As I began my courses, I was pleased with my decision. However, the further I studied my emphasis, the less engaged I was in the curriculum. That’s when I read the beginnings of a book called What Color Is Your Parachute?. The book was originally written in 1970 and has been updated virtually every year since. It’s basically a job-search manual. While I did not finish it, the first few chapters were eye-opening. I completed a series of exercises to help figure out which career path would best fulfill my unique interests and abilities. You’d think this would be something I could have figured out on my own, but I struggled to understand my true self at the time.
Here I was preparing myself for a big career in PR and it turned out I wanted nothing to do with it. Communications was still a fruitful major, but my emphasis no longer suited me based on the knowledge I gained from the above mentioned book. I moved forward with my education plans, but I decided to change the direction of my job search. Surprisingly, I had discovered that I genuinely wanted to be an Administrative Assistant. The responsibilities of an assistant nurtured all of the aspects of my abilities and interests. Certainly, the position did not offer as much praise nor prestige, but it was what I wanted to do. Bear in mind, being a Mom was not probable at that early of an age for me and being a writer had still been pushed aside as not even being plausible in my eyes.
Now, I told you all of that, to tell you this – sometimes we get lost along the way and need to hold on to the concrete things that we know to be true. I’ve been thinking about this more and more, as I’ve been struggling with the affects of my mood disorder in conjunction with pregnancy hormones. Times have been tough for me. Things that I would normally enjoy have felt dulled. When I laugh, there is a part of me that says, “Oh, look, you’re laughing. That feels good.” I don’t think laughter should be a rarity. I believe laughter is a necessity. I mean, heck, I wrote a whole post on the importance of Living a Life with Laughter. So, I’m sure you can imagine how disheartening it feels when joy evades you for no particular reason. I’ve been here before, but it hasn’t made it any easier. In fact, sometimes feeling this numbness and disinterest adds fear to my situation, as I am aware of how bad it can get. Before you go worrying about me; don’t. Just keep reading.
I’m gonna be okay. I know this because I’ve learned that holding on to the concrete things in my life pulls me through. During a particularly difficult time a few years back, I discovered a technique that helps me fight off anxiety. I find that anxiety is usually a result of thinking excessively about the unknowns of life. Unknowns can create a mess load of panic and worry. I found that instead of obsessing over the unknowns, I could reflect on memories of my Mom or concrete things that I knew to be true. For instance, I would ponder the tangible blessings in my life, such as my husband, my children, my knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the roof over my head, etc. The memories of my Mom might seem like a strange thing to contemplate during difficult times, but they are truths versus unknowns. The truth is that I have several wonderful memories of my Mom that I get to look back on. How much more joy can be found in thinking about the goodness of life than worrying about the unknowns? Especially since oftentimes the unknowns are beyond our control.
Thankfully, anxiety is not the weight I am having to bear at this time. My difficulty, as mentioned above, is enduring the numbness that overcomes me with no reasonable explanation. This is where I think back on What Color Is Your Parachute? and realize that I find enjoyment and satisfaction in unsuspecting places. I am a task-oriented girl, so I’ve learned that a task will help me through the day. Of course, I never want to start the task, because who wants to begin anything when they’re down? Am I right? But a task helps me, so I strive to begin even when I don’t want to. I also learned from the above mentioned book, that I gain fulfillment from organizing and planning things. It somehow brings me peace to put things in order. So, while I’ve been struggling to find purpose in my life, I’ve given myself tasks that suit these aspects of me that need fulfilling. It may seem odd, but going through my digital pictures and organizing them into chronological folders can calm me down and lift my spirits. That’s what I loved about this book. It helped me discover that there were activities, though not outwardly rewarding, that brought me inner peace and happiness.
I think what I’m trying to say is that life is tough. Sometimes it’s tougher than feels necessary. I find that during these tougher times, it’s okay to take it easy and hold on to the concrete parts about yourself that you know will help. It may not be glamorous. The things that fulfill you and help you move forward may not be a big fancy PR job, it may be merely assisting someone else in their role. And you may not spend every day out there taking on the world. That’s okay. Create a life that feels good on the inside; not one that just looks good on the outside.
I worked as an Executive Administrative Assistant for a few years before obtaining my dream job of being a Stay-at-Home Mom. Ironically, being an assistant on an executive level proved to have more perks than I could have imagined, such as an all expense paid trip to Barcelona, Spain with my husband. The role of mother turned out to be the more challenging, and simultaneously most rewarding, position for me. The entire job of being a mom is built upon unknowns. A world of unknowns that has led me to this wonderful opportunity to cultivate my love for writing and share my experiences with those out in the Internet abyss.
My writing may not look good on the outside, but it sure feels good to do it. My role as a mother is chalked full of imperfections, but it feels amazing during those moments, like last night, when I finally helped my girls with their first cross stitch project that they have been begging me to do. It’s not a prestigious life, but it’s filled with beautiful truths that I hold dear. I have no idea when I’ll get some relief from this down cycle in my mood disorder. In the mean time, I figure I’ll take it a day at a time and keep nurturing those tangible truths and activities that bring me personal peace.
May each of you find joy and fulfillment in the concrete things in your life and let go of the unknowns that can feel overwhelming and potentially lead to anxiety. And, if you’re having a difficult time understanding the basic actions in life that bring you true fulfillment, perhaps it’s time to find out what color your parachute is and allow yourself to soar.