Life purposes

by Valerie M

This past summer, I have been questioning more intensely where I am going with my life and how I’d like to contribute to the world. I have always pondered this, but it has been much stronger this year and this summer than ever before. 

Much of this searching was inspired by the 90-day writing experiment I undertook in late 2011 and early 2012. While I did end up taking a break from writing as much after the experiment ended, something good came out of it. Forcing myself to write, and then taking a break to process everything, helped me to realize what some of my stronger interests and talents are. That’s part of why I took up that experiment, and I’m glad it worked. Patterns began to pop up in my writings and I realized that I was often thinking about these things for a reason.

One thing that I have always been interested in, if my writing this year has been any indication, is building self-esteem — especially that of young women.  I was lucky to grow up in an environment that cultivated and nurtured high self-esteem. As a result, I learned very early on that I couldn’t love or care for anyone more than I loved myself, but I still struggled with self-doubt that would never completely go away and moments of depression, anger, and feelings of surrender. Even people with a relatively healthy self-esteem get bombarded with these types of challenges despite what anyone would have you believe.

I am always getting asked for my advice and my opinion from women my age on things that would appear to me to be common sense. Things that would appear to be clear as day because I listen to my intuition. I am not saying this to put other people down because I believe I have superior foresight or intelligence (I don’t) or that other people are just “dumb” (they aren’t). I’m just like everyone else in that I also DON’T really know the answers and I’m just taking it all in day-by-day to the best of my ability. That’s all you can do really, because no matter what you’ll never really get 100% but you can get close only by improving a little every day.

But I know what it feels like to be discouraged and hurt and feeling hopeless — and I have a process for getting out of it when (not if) I get into these ruts. My process is not for everyone but anyone can learn the basics and customize it. My process doesn’t even work for me in every situation — it is something I need to maintain and tweak as necessary — but the basics still don’t change.

I’ve also come to realize that if it weren’t for the support network that I have, I don’t know where I would be today. If I didn’t have that support system it would be much harder (and it is already hard as it is) for me to filter out the noise that we see and hear everyday to bring us down and keep us chained. It would have been ten times harder for me to build the attitudes and the life-coping strategies that I’ve come to rely on today.

I’ve touched on these sort of things on multiple occasions throughout this blog, but most of it has been theoretical and, quite frankly, a bit flighty (in my humble opinion). I am now left wondering how can I make this practical? How can I help in ways that make a direct difference in women’s lives — and not something that they can just read, nod their heads, and continue living their lives the way they always have — worried, scared, unhappy, and just plain old unsatisfied?

When I read the type of things that attempt to broach on the subject of women’s self-esteem, I have noticed a pattern of linking self-esteem to their success with men — or finding the “perfect” relationship. I have noticed this pattern even coming from women who claim to be independent and doing things for “themselves.” Even I have fallen into this line of thinking, so I am not immune to this. And I can’t really argue with it either. Generally speaking, a typical woman’s self-esteem is directly correlated to the healthiness and stability of her relationships with her friends, her family, and most of all the signficant other in her life. No amount of wishing it away will make it so. Women in general — I realize there are exceptions, but exceptions don’t make the rule — are more or less biologically/socially wired to want to cultivate family relationships and similar close relationships earlier on, more often, and with greater intensity.

This is not to say that men’s self esteem is not also impacted by their relationships with other women as well – but I am not a man, so I will refrain from speaking too much on that.

That said, I still feel like focusing on just that is still superficial. It is like the chicken and egg question. Does self-esteem come first or does good relationships come first? Most women would say it is the former but most women appear to operate like it is the latter. Which is the right answer? Maybe it is both — but why is it so hard to focus on both?

Again, how can I channel this in a practical and applicable way?

I do have an idea that has been brewing in mind for most of this year but the task of implementing it is overwhelming to say the least – even if I break it down into small, manageable chunks. I am also worried about my ability to implement it because I know myself and I know how easily distracted I can get without any imposed structure.

The good news is I have been practicing cultivating habits and my “habit-forming” muscle is getting stronger with each day. I’m learning that it is not so much the idea that matters or that the finish line looks exactly as I planned it. What matters most is showing up everyday and focusing on the most impactful tasks, no excuses.

The other thing I have been thinking about is where should I go with this blog. I’m no longer as interested in writing general personal development articles as I have in the past — and it shows because I’ve barely written these types of articles lately. I don’t want my readers to read forced content that clearly feels that way — that’s why I’d rather write less even if it means I lose readers. I’d rather lose readers that way anyway, if that’s the way I had to go. But I know simply writing less is still not the solution. I want more for myself and for where I’m heading.

I want to streamline my content and focus on a targeting market of women who can benefit from a better support network and a brighter guiding star. In order to implement this dream that I have, I am wondering if I should even keep this blog running. Should I close this blog, keeping in mind that this site is about 3 years old now? Should I revamp this blog and focus solely one what I am trying to do? Should I keep this one up and run two websites simultaneously, while keeping Insightfull more “personal”? I am not even sure if I need or want a separate personal blog, but I find it hard to give up Insightfull altogether.

Outside of the blog I am wondering what else should I do. I know all of this is not just limited to a blog — a blog is only a small part of my dream, a tool. And that’s part of why it feels overwhelming.

I don’t really want to make any rash decisions this time around. It’s so easy to get excited and do things without any foresight, only to realize it wasn’t the best plan or that it was doomed to failure. I also don’t want to drink too much of the Koolaid (e.g. trying to work on this 10 hours a day from the get-go) only to realize that I hate it because I forced myself too much and burned myself out. I want to focus on small wins and what I can do everyday to make this a reality.

So that’s what I am thinking about and working on. Thanks for hearing me out today.. : )

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