When my family returned from a six-week trip to Europe last summer, I decided that we would not be doing the same trip in 2020. Most people just brushed me of letting me know that I said that the previous year too. I know I am human and that some things are not in my control, but I knew, deep in my guts, that this year was going to be different.
As a mom of two young boys, I am finally moving through the last stages of parenting where I am the only kid on the block that they want to play with, where their every need is my command (in their mind) and where I know clearly that leaving them for long lengths of time is not the way I wanted to set them up for life. It’s a sacrifice that I don’t necessarily like and, yet, gladly take.
My last decade of life included many changes, I moved countries, got married, had 2 children, created my own business, become a citizen of the USA. Even though I had my formal education long before the last 10 years, I have never stopped learning and training. It often felt, however, that what I was doing was not enough.
As most new moms, or moms of small kids are aware, I was sneaking into social media space through the window of my phone: to see what is going on, to get news, to connect. I know of all the pitfalls of it too, but there was something comforting about texting your Facebook group about your baby’s sleep pattern or how to make your kid breastfeed from both breasts equally, and some other things that most people would probably consider gross, but us mamas, know and understand.
On another hand, I’d see these picture-perfect profiles on Instagram that made me feel self-conscious, inadequate and old. There are accounts of people sharing the most ridiculous things and yet they have hundreds of thousands of followers. We all made fun of reality shows 10 years ago and yet, Kim Kardashian now has about 150 million followers online. I would click on it, in disbelief, and find so many people blindly loving her or cursing her and I could never personally relate to her. Over time, this got to me.
What fashion magazines did with photoshop and creating fake standards of beauty, influencers were doing online with filters, make up, lighting and other tricks. Some people followed out of curiosity, but many followed because they connected to it. I made myself wrong for judging them, so I turned inward to find answers. After a lot of back and forth and self-reflection, and without wishing them any harm, I concluded that the world in which they are a measure as success is not the world I want to participate in. So, I isolated.
With help of a few mentors, each a gifted woman in her own right, I have slowly found my own voice, my essence and my own purpose. It didn’t come easily or cheaply, but I rolled up my sleeves and did the work. Conclusion: I bought into the illusion created by Hollywood and Social Media and I measured myself harshly against it, unwilling to do my own work – because I couldn’t see the point, and in a process, nurturing entitlement and judgement that things that come easily to me are not good enough and that lack of acknowledgement meant I wasn’t worthy.
No personal experience is ever “out there” but within. So while there are reasons my insecurities were flaring up in my life, most of them were unattended wounds from the past. As I revisited the events when I was hurt, I was able to release the old pain and create something new. I realized, the values in the world as I see it, are not my values and regardless of how unrecognized I may remain, my purpose in life was in and of itself a motivation.
This naturally had me limit my social engagements, time online, and I found gratitude in what I already had: great partnership with my husband, two beautiful loving children that inspire me and are a great incentive for hard work, lots of art I never appreciated to revisit, organize, reframe, play on piano, edit and share, and wisdom to know how to create a great life, not the one that gets following and likes, but the one that fills one with content.
The longer I stuck in my own game and made choices that were “on purpose” for me, the more grounded I felt. Slowly and cautiously, I would share with people I spoke to about real values and inspire them to take on a similar journey. It totally made sense, all my clients were creators and the tools I have mastered were extremely relevant for them too. Week after week, I would get on a phone and talk about the world where we respect real values, where we spend more quality time with one another, honor nature, put people before money, share support and generosity rather than greed and misinformation. And, before I knew it, this awful pandemic hit us all and, as if by magic, so many of us were called to reset.
- We value our teachers because homeschooling for a few days got us present to the value and benefit of being in partnership with educators and people who care and want to pass their knowledge to your child.
- We value our farmers and fresh produce that is harder to come by, when previously we took for granted as we could have it delivered with a click of a button.
- We value medical staff and truly depend on them for survival fully aware of how much they need to be able to take care of themselves and their health in order to help us.
- We also noticed so many things that can totally be obsolete: politicians arguing about who is more right, things being done in person when they can be done remotely, overproduction of things that create more clutter and animals in our daily diets that both cause the environmental changes we won’t be able to reverse.
Instead, we get to hold each other’s hands through this, share resources, ideas, use technology for good, reconnect in a new way holding real values close to our hearts. In a face of a big event like this, people show solidarity, but then, as things get better, we may forget. It is absolutely essential that we create a paradigm shift and not just wait until this is over, but use our energy, resources and real values to redefine the world we want to live in, the world that will be our legacy.