What’s Your Why?

So this week was a little bit of a doozy for me in many ways. That is why, if any of you noticed, I didn’t have a post up on Tuesday night as I usually do. That is ultimately why I decided to do this activity specifically this week. It’s one that’s been in my head for a while. We actually talked about it at work several months ago, back before everything happened with my parents even, but I put off as we all so often do.

But this week, after a myriad of issues in my personal and professional life and several nights spent on the couch feeling depressed, I decided I would finally explore what my “why” was for the things that feel important to right now, but that I often get discouraged in. I decided to look at work, my writing (which encompasses both freelance writing projects, this blog, and two book ideas I am actively working on), and the sewing hobby I have taken up.

The basic concept of this was to take an index card and list out a reason (or a few) of why you like your job, or why you enjoy your hobbies. I decided I really needed to do this because although there are aspects of my job that I love, sometimes it’s easy to get bogged down in the minutiae of the day to day and forget about those big things that I really enjoy. With my writing, I had several rejections to freelance pitches that I sent out this week, and I was feeling particularly discouraged, despite some other positive things happening in that area recently. And with sewing, while it’s something that I really enjoy, it’s something that I have a hard time making time for. I didn’t set a limit of how many reasons I needed to list, but I knew I wanted them to be reasons that would really convince me to keep going on a rough day.

For my index card at work, I listed:
• Because of collaborations like the one with Ruth’s Cottage that I can help with.
• Because of stories like the lab collaboration that you got to write about.
• Because you love the people you work with.
• Because you get to try out new things and there is someone who will listen to your ideas.
• Because you wanted a job with an organization that was in the business of helping people.

After I was done, I hung this card up on one of my computer monitors in between a note my family and I left with some flowers on my mother’s 50th birthday, reminding me not to take any moment for granted, and a picture of my mother and I when I was a baby when we both look incredibly happy. This is a place I know I will see this index card every day at work, and after a particularly draining meeting or a disappointing email, I’ll be able to ground myself with these reasons of why I’m in the job that I am.

For my index card for writing, which I just keep in my laptop, I listed:
• Because you need to tell your story, for all the people out there who don’t have a voice like yours.
• Because you need to tell your mother’s story and maybe your grandmothers’ stories too because they weren’t able to. You have to be their voice.
• Because even though it is hard, you always come back to it because you love writing.

For my index card with sewing, which I hung above my sewing table, I listed:
• Because your mama would be proud that one of her daughters is actually sewing.
• Because Tara loved your napkins so much she said she would buy fabric just for you to make her more.
• Because Trista liked your napkins and asked if you could show her how to make them.
• Because if you can make enough to sell in your booth at the farmer’s market, maybe that will be that much less waste created.

This was a really easy activity, but even just the act of sitting down and listing out these reasons alone, not even seeing them every day as of yet, was extremely helpful for me as a way to end this week. In a way, it was a way of practicing gratitude for where I am and also a way to ground myself in the future when my anxiety gets a little overwhelming. I highly recommend this exercise to anyone struggling with similar issues right now.

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