Last week I talked about fighting back from depression even if it overwhelms you again and again. Introspection, self-reflection, leaning on others for support are all very important keys to being able to fight and withstand. But there is something more for me that has been the key to unlock my happiness – I gave up.
Two months ago I wouldn’t have been able to put this in words. I stumbled upon an article about this very fact – giving up – and realization hit me about what I had experienced.
Ever since I was little, my entire drive has been “what’s next?” What are you going to be when you grow up? What are you going to major in when you get to college? Who are you going to marry? How many kids are you going to have? Stay-at-home mom or career? What’s for dinner this Friday, when it’s only Monday? Lose 10 pounds by summer. Cover that grey. Get rid of the crow’s feet. Everything was always how to make myself better; how to make life better for those around me. Always a goal to achieve; always a drive to overachieve.
Always going. No wonder I broke down after 12 years of marriage to my first husband. Still after I remarried, I was driving myself to achieve. Be the best Army Wife. Be the best Commander’s Wife for the soldiers and their families. Not bad goals at all but detrimental to my well-being.
So last August, I gave up.
I simply gave up the drive to achieve. The drive to be the best at whatever I do. Many don’t admit it to themselves that being the best drives much of what we do. Bake brownies for the bake sale? Well, mine would surely taste the best and garner many ooh’s and aah’s. Throw a fourth of July party? Well, it’ll be the best decorated party on the block. Dress for a unit ball? Well, my entire outfit, hair, make-up and nails will be carefully crafted to be absolutely perfect.
I said enough.
I do what makes me happy now and I don’t feel once ounce of selfishness. I am still doing; I will always be a doer. I am still caring for others and taking care of others. That will always be me. And I take care of myself. But I don’t live and breathe to be the best at what others need me to be or do. I don’t even do this for what I desire of myself. I live and breathe for BEING NOW. Not for living for the future.
I don’t have some amazing goal for my business – to grow eventually large enough to need to hire out or begin selling wholesale. I grow my business each morning I wake up to it with a smile. That’s enough for me. And I have never been happier to work every day.
Is giving up for you? I can’t tell you that. If you had said to give up to me 20 years ago, I would have said you were crazy. Aren’t we supposed to want the best of ourselves? Yes, but what I didn’t see is that our society teaches us to want the best for ourselves with a caveat – it’s what society sees as the best for us and not what we see as the best for ourselves. Now I choose what is best for me.
~ Jennifer Smith began her life as an Army Wife on December 19, 2011. This is her second blog series with Military Spouses of Strength sharing her personal journey with military life. She has chosen to use her creativity and empathy to share experiences, encourage others to share experiences; to knock down some walls or at the very least, to pick at the cracks.
Join Jennifer over the next few weeks as she continues to share her personal journey, “Still Learning as I Go“.