Searching for purpose even now

I am in the middle of a reflective period of my life once more. Every so often I start mulling over who and what I am, what I have or have not accomplished in my life and what purpose I might still serve.

I wonder if others do this. At 52, shouldn’t I have the pleasure of saying that I did all I could, that I have no regrets, that I fulfilled every goal, that my life is pretty much complete.

Yet, once again this morning my life feels somewhat wasted. I feel that I have something more to give, that I can make a difference somewhere. I remember thinking early in my career that I was making a difference in people’s lives. I don’t feel that way anymore. I haven’t for a long time and should have ended this career years ago. But old habits die hard, and it is nice to bring home a regular paycheck. I felt more fulfilled in a second career, many years ago. But then, my children were my true passion and that career began to interfere with my being a mom. At least I believed it interfered too much and I gave it up.

My children are raised. I know I was successful as a mom and wouldn’t change anything I gave up to be the mom I wanted to be. I did make a difference in their lives and it’s evident in their decisions, attitudes, and goals as adults. I am not a constant presence for them anymore, yet certainly still a consistent presence. If they really need me, they ask, but I know and they know that they were raised with the ability and self-confidence to make good choices and decisions. I am simply a sounding board at this point.

So what does one do with a deep-seated need to be involved, be needed, be useful and give to others. How does one use their skills, intelligence, leadership ability and interests in our human condition to find purpose. Writing this I seem to sound like a 20-something who has no clue what to do with their life. I kind of expect that from a 20-something. I’m not sure it’s ok to expect that of a 50-something.

I also don’t want to be a 60-something and feel like I am still searching.

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3 thoughts on “Searching for purpose even now”

  1. If it’s any consolation, I think this is something that most people struggle with and it happens all the time (that is, it’s not solely a mid-life or fresh out of college issue.) When I feel this way, I try to separate from all of the media images and cultural stories that impose a need to “be successful” (whatever that means.) A wise woman once told me that there are *no* shoulds in life. You have done a lot just by raising three fantastic kids – and those ripples will continue to be felt for generations. In the meantime, what about going back to that career that you once pursued? (Or is this it? If so, keep on this path!) A couple of good resources: the book Simple Abundance and keeping a gratitude journal.

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    1. Not so much about success as wanting to really feel like I did something for others above and beyond the mom thing, although I am very proud of that role and how the kids turned out.
      It’s almost really a need just to be present in someone’s life or among society giving back if that makes sense. It isn’t about money or glory.
      The other career was working as an educator and doula for pregnant families but this tired and much older body often lets me down and 24+ hours spent with a laboring woman may be too much now!

      I love the idea of taking this Sociology degree (once I actually finish) and using it to work with women in some sort of non-profit setting, or taking myself off to Africa and working for human rights or some other lofty goal like that.

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      1. I love what you are getting that degree and thinking of applications for it – all of it sounds wonderful, and more loftiness of dreams is what we need in this world!

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