I love this Dr. Seuss quote: “To the world you may be one person; but to one person you may be the world.”
So often we wrap ourselves in the identity of being something to someone…you’re a parent, a spouse, a caregiver, a profession, an employee, a volunteer or whatever role you have either been assigned or you assigned to yourself. But, you see, you are none of these things. These are simply something you do.
The danger of wrapping yourself in the title of what you do is that you may lose your identity when that role ends. What happens when your children are grown and decide your guidance is no longer needed or welcome? What if your marriage ends, either by death or divorce? What if the person for whom you are the caregiver either recovers or dies? What are you when your job ends, either voluntarily by resignation or retirement, or involuntarily?
So many parents I know mourn the fact that they have raised their children and are no longer needed to provide the housing and support they’ve provided during the entire lives of their children. But the fact is, they were successful in raising self-sufficient people who have begun to find their own way in the world. Shouldn’t that be a reason to rejoice? Now they can use the rest of their lives to do what they want to do.
Often when marriages end, one or both spouses have difficulty finding their new identity as a single person. It’s like they have lost half of themselves. I can’t speak from experience in this matter. I know I rely heavily on my husband for moral and emotional support and I don’t want to think about what I would do without him. I hope if I ever find myself in that position, that I would be able to find the support I need from family and friends and that eventually I would be able to develop a new “normal” for myself that includes finding happiness again.
Because both of my parents died suddenly and relatively young (mom 41 and dad 72), I have not had to deal with the failing health of aging parents. I can only imagine the soul-sucking fatigue that brings on and the potential strain it can inflict on the family dynamic. When the child becomes the parent, it must be very stressful. It can be all-consuming and when that relationship comes to its inevitable conclusion, the care-giving child often struggles to find their place in the world again.
When these roles change, often we find ourselves without direction and lacking in self-esteem. If we defined ourselves by what we were doing and now are no longer doing that thing…what are we and where do we fit in this world?
So often, as I talk to people approaching retirement, they (mostly men) tell me they don’t know what they would do with themselves if they retire. That boggles my mind. They knew this day was coming…either they would one day retire or they would die before they had the chance to do so.
It’s so important to make a plan for your life, or at least know how you will use your time when one season of life is over and the next one begins. I was excited to retire because it meant I would be able to pursue full-time what I was meant to do. I can continue making a living and not feel like I’m working because I truly love what I do.
I encourage my clients to find something they love to do that they can feel good about. Everyone wants to know they matter and everyone DOES matter. Making a contribution and having a servant’s heart is why we are here. We are here to leave the world a little better than we found it. I think the more we realize and work in that direction, the stronger our feeling of self-worth will grow.
You are a valuable asset in this world and you have gifts you have not even begun to access. The world needs what you have to give, no matter how insignificant you may think it is. Remember what Dr. Seuss said…if you don’t remember, look at the top of this page.
As a health coach, I work with women who are facing serious health challenges like heart disease, metabolic syndrome and diabetes or who have been diagnosed as having a precursor to a serious health issue such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or high blood sugar. I help them make food and lifestyle changes so they can get healthy, live longer and enjoy a fuller, happier, more energetic life. If you would like to have a free consultation about the health challenges you have and the improvements you would like to see in your health, click here to schedule a no strings attached call.