Finding fulfillment. It’s something we all struggle with at one point or another, some earlier than others. It’s something I have struggled a lot with in the past few months and something I have come to realize can mean many different things to many different people.
I grew up in an environment that told me to always pursue my dreams and to never allow being female to get in the way. I watched my mom progress through her career in a male-dominated industry and thought “That’s what a career is. That’s fulfillment.” While I admired her, and I still do, I’ve learned that as much as her and I are alike, we are also vastly different.
I’ve been in school (basically) my entire life. As a fresh M.A. graduate, a foray into the “real world” seemed like a breath of fresh air—much needed, scary, yet necessary. It took months to even get interviews, and more months to get any offers. I knew I wouldn’t find “the dream job” immediately after graduation, but I thought that finding “the perfect job” would give me the fulfillment I had been missing as I stayed home without a single paper to write—and the money to do my part for my household. I had felt useless and hopeless for months, and I was looking for a way out of that feeling. I thought a job would provide me that.
I was wrong.
As it turns out, and as I’ve found as I’ve been reflecting the past few days, a career does not fulfillment make. (I don’t even know if that makes sense, but you get the gist.) So what creates fulfillment? That’s harder to answer than it seems. Why? Because it’s entirely up to you.
I’ve realized that what fulfills me is my faith and my marriage. This does not mean I do not desire to work, because I do. It also does not mean I rely on my husband as the source of my happiness, as my “end-all-be-all.” What it means, for me, is that is where I find my happiest moments and memories, my joy, and my comfort.
I am all too familiar with the feelings of guilt or being less than because of this mentality. I am also familiar with the feeling of the need to fit in with those around you. But fitting in in this world should not be my concern. Instead, I should be concerned with my heart, if I am doing what I am called to do.
I’ve realized lately that perhaps I am not.
I think I felt I needed to be my mom to make my family happy. Maybe that’s the mentality of an only child—needing to please. Whatever the psychology behind it, I’ve learned that’s not the case. I need to be me. And that means finding fulfillment however I find it, not my mom.
I’ve made mistakes to get to this realization. I’ve made decisions that were not right, that were made out of fear, before coming to this realization. But the important part is that I got there.
My goal is to go back to what truly fulfills me and stop trying to fill a hole with something that won’t fill it.
I guess my message through all of this is: find your fulfillment. Whatever it is, whatever it means to you. Do not be afraid to find that your fulfillment does not match how others’ may define it. Do not be afraid to find yourself. Do not be afraid to admit when you have done wrong, but also do not be afraid to make amends. Find what makes your heart happy, because your life will be all the less cheerful if you don’t.