Before I quit my job, my therapist told me I'd have my highest highs and lowest lows once I left corporate America. I smiled politely at her and nodded, all the while thinking: no way. I'm going to do a jig the whole way home and never, ever stop! How could I have my lowest lows when I was so sure of what I was doing? How could there be the lowest lows when I'm working on my dream, my passion? When I am not going to long meetings and answering 470,000 emails a day?
She was right about the highs. There have been some really high moments during the last month. I laugh and smile way more than I did before. I am less stressed and more patient. I'm sleeping like a baby. I am so excited about what I'm working on it kind of makes me want to explode. I feel more playful. More generous. More myself. I feel awake and alive.
But she was right about the lows, too.
I've read a lot about numbing agents - the way we use externals to self soothe. Some people use booze. Some use sex. Some use food. I am ashamed to admit it but, deep down, I thought I was one step ahead. I used to numb with exercise and controlling my food but I've got it together now! I would tell myself.
I've learned during the last few weeks that I still numb, it just looks different. I numb with to do lists and tasking. With busying. With hustling. With noise. And texts. And Instagram likes. I numb with affirmation and a constant checking of things off.
During the last month I've had plenty to do, but it looks different. First of all, in order to cast a vision for a new project, you must slow down. You can't constantly be checking and going if you haven't fully decided where you're going. You have to go slow now to go fast later, as they say in corporate America. And, second of all, when the day is done, even if I have accomplished a whole lot, I am not reporting out to anyone. I did all my work? Great! But no one will notice if I didn't.
Once I stripped away all the replies from my amazingly encouraging boss telling me great job and wow you work quickly, I realized how much I was relying on them. Once I took away the chaos and busy and found myself in silence, I realized how deafening it sounded. How lonely it could feel. How much those to do lists and affirmations were filling me up.
When we strip everything away that gives us worth, we learn what we really believe about ourselves. When we take away the accomplishments, credentials and compliments, what do we still have? When we take away our looks, our fit bodies, our money, our titles, what is left?
When we earn our worth through externals, those things can be taken away. But, when we believe our worth comes from the Lord and our identity in Him, it can never be shaken. When we find our identity in being a daughter, a sister, a loving, living soul, it cannot be taken. When we believe we are enough, simply because we exist, we cannot be told otherwise. It's scary and quiet and loud all at once to sit in the stillness, to strip ourselves down. But, I'm learning that's where freedom is. That's where we break free from the hustle.