For the past few years I've been a stay-at-home mom of four.
I studied law and worked as a parliamentary monitor for various NGOs. Despite my age (40), up until very recently, I still did not know what I wanted to do when I grew up.
My journey to my current situation has not been a result of any firm decisions taken or ambitions realised through strategic and clever planning. I've arrived at my current situation much through circumstance pushing me in various directions. This is why a particular line in the novel 'Memoirs of a Geisha' really resonated with me:
" We lead our lives like water flowing down a hill, going more or less in one direction until we splash into something that forces us to find a new course".
If I had put thought into my future (and into what training I should acquire), I would've spent more time trying to find my passion and getting to know myself. In doing so, I would have realised that instead of speaking out in a courtroom, I would prefer to sit behind a desk and write.
I have always struggled with extremely low self-esteem. People's negative or hurtful comments stay with me, while their compliments (though appreciated) make me squirm. I'm easily discouraged by negative comments and tend to internalise the negative things people say about or to me.
I constantly feel as if I do not measure up to everyone around me. Immediately after graduating with my postgraduate law degree, I went to work as a cashier at Clicks, convinced that I would not succeed in the legal field. At Clicks I felt inadequate as a cashier, convinced that everyone else was better at it than I was.
I remember playing a squash match against the coach's daughter. I led the match (by far) until right until the end- when she caught up with me. It was as if I believed that she was meant to win and I was meant to lose - and I was powerless to stop it from happening- that was just the way it was meant to be.
I once heard someone refer to me as 'painfully shy'. And she could not have been more accurate. Being among people is often an uncomfortable experience for me and I hate speaking in groups of more than three people (other than close family).
Despite doing well in my studies and later getting very positive feedback on my work, I have always felt that I did not measure up. When I received praise for well-written reports at work, I always thought there was a catch, I expected a 'but'- always waiting for the other shoe to drop.
When I succeed at something, I cannot help attributing my success to never-to-be-repeated luck and not to talent.
Someone once pointed out that when at the supermarket, I would always choose the dented cans. One person viewed this as a positive thing- a sign that I am considerate and unselfish by leaving the good cans for other people. I have however come to realise that I am actually leaving the whole, good cans for everyone else, whom I regarded as far more deserving than I am.
When in company I feel negatively judged. I know this is extremely self-centred - assuming the whole world is taking time out of their busy lives to formulate negative opinions about me.
My feelings of inadequacy have meant that I've never reached my full potential. I did not become an attorney although I had come so close. I cannot bring myself to take the final step to success. It's like the ill-fated squash match against the coach's daughter all over again. I strive - and then just before achieving success, I lose momentum in order to ensure that I don't succeed. I am my own obstacle - my own worst enemy.
I consciously try not to view my children as an extension of me, or I might not be able to appreciate their positive attributes.
Guiltily I wonder whether my decision to have so many kids had anything to do with a selfish need to be the centre of the lives of all these individuals; blindly admired, free from judgement, unconditionally loved.
I ended up working in non-governmental organisations, reporting on parliamentary proceedings and disseminating this information to civil society at large. Without realising the reason, this position made me really happy. I now know that it was because it involved me doing what I love - writing. It was the only time I did not feel too inadequate.
As a result I decided to spend more time doing that which makes me feel worthy. The job of stay-at-home mom is often thankless. One does not see the positive outcome of a hard days work, as the job never ends. There is no performance appraisal where I'd get my pat on the back about a job well done (affirming my worth).
I've come to rely upon spirituality and my relationship with God to keep me sane. I try to make a point of counting His blessings and appreciating them. I tell myself that, as part of His creation, I have to have some worth. I tell myself that His is the opinion that matters; and His judgment is the only judgment worth considering. And that His love for His creation is unconditional (irrespective of goals not achieved or potential left unfulfilled).
I've recently been trying to approach the world out there with my head held a bit higher, forcing a self-assured confident gait. Fake it 'til you make it.
Thus far I'm still faking it.
This blog provides me with an outlet for my feelings and thoughts, a place to record memories and count blessings. I am able to do that which makes me feel worthy, despite being a stay-at-home mum.
Writing about my family has necessitated much reflection, which in turn has deepened my appreciation of them and all the other blessings in my life.
I am so grateful for all the positive comments and encouragement I've received (on facebook and by email) since starting the blog. I thoroughly enjoy sharing my experiences with you.
I thank you for stopping by. Please feel free to leave comments and criticism (it's okay- I can take it) or just to say 'hi'.