In a society where success and achievement are praised above most things, we forget that who we are is more than what we do and how successful we are.
This fact is especially detrimental when we chose our careers out of an oppressive pressure to succeed or survive as children.
A natural response to abandonment or neglect in childhood is perfectionism – it is natural for children to want to impress their parents. However, when perfectionism doesn’t win the parents over, a need to succeed can become obsessive.
This is also true when a parent tries to mold a child to overcome their own failures, or pressures them into a specific career.
Either way, the child is left with overwhelming pressure to succeed, and abandons their authentic self in order to please the parent.
We are left chasing success as a form of validity and as a way to fulfill someone else’s needs.
For me, I chose a business career I thought would make me “successful” and “respectable”. I chased achievement in that career for over 10 years, and developed myself to meet my company’s expectations.
Every day, I fell further away from my authentic self, until one day I asked myself – is this me?
I had ignored my own needs for so long, I barely knew what they were anymore. I barely knew who I was anymore.
All I knew was that I felt misaligned and that every day felt like I was wearing a mask.
For a long time, I truly believed that my worth was tied to how successful I was and that it was shameful to not be in a traditionally desired career, even if that career made me miserable.
I know now that I believed that because that’s what I was taught to believe growing up.
In a society where success and achievement are praised above most things, we forget that feeling misaligned in a “good” career can be devastating when we think it’s what we are supposed to be doing.
The first step to healing is awareness.
Start examining the choices your make, the thoughts that come up, and the way your body feels in response.
Are you making these choices out of a need to meet someone’s expectations? Are you making these choices out of a need to feel validated or loved?
Or are you making these choices because they feel aligned to who you are and what your purpose is in this world?