Ever since childhood, I had the feeling that I was going to do something great and leave my mark on the world. I was a straight A student through middle school and a 4.71 student in high school. Everything except the math came easy to me. I graduated #3 in my class with 10 college credits. I was just shy of being salutatorian at graduation. I had never really failed at much of anything that truly meant anything to me. Success felt effortless.
And in hindsight, maybe success did me a disservice.
Once I finished college, I learned pretty quickly that things in the work world operate much differently than they do in academia. For the first time ever, success depended not just on doing good work but also on personality, charm, wit, networking skills. I never won the popularity contest - which was fine by me - but I'd like to think I was at least respected because my work spoke for itself.
Fast forward a few years. I got married and had a kid and stayed home for year and everything changed. I wasn't doing anything anywhere near great. In fact, I was trying to wrap my head around the endless routine of changing diapers, doing laundry, making baby food, cooking dinner and cleaning my house. I felt a growing insignificance and lack of meaning. For the first time in my life there was no achievement to look forward to, no passing grade, no promotion, no raise, no holiday or vacation. Eight months in, I grew restless and started consulting on my own. 10 months in and I was searching for jobs.
11 months in and I was back in the working world, only to find that work hadn't changed. I had changed. I now felt torn between my new responsibilities as a mom and my workaholic tendencies that made me into a helpless perfectionist and diehard overachiever.
Rock, meet hard place.
It is only now, and only because I am so tired I barely know my name, that I realize I can't measure my success based on what others subjectively think of me. I can't determine whether I'm doing something great based on whether I receive accolades or fame or credit. That's just as bad as a hamster who exhausts himself running on a wheel because his owner cheers him own. Certainly, he would rather be outside of his cage, just living a normal life with no applause rather than go crazy trying to run a race that doesn't exist.
Which begs the question: What if I'm already doing something great and maybe society will never recognize it because the things that our culture praises are so backwards and messed up? What if me loving my husband, and taking care of my kid, and reading my Bible and praying and investing in my home is greatness? Can I be satisfied with that?
Ever since childhood, I had the feeling that I was going to do something great and leave my mark on the world. Now I realize that this is it. This is my moment of brilliance. This is my finest hour. Me, just living, resting in the Lord and honoring Him. Maybe that's just enough greatness for me.