Katie doesn’t have any experience with this topic—that’s why she’s opening up to all of you in hopes of learning more!
Little Purpose and Sort Of Contributing to Society
All of us went through a huge shift when the global pandemic hit and we were forced to stay home. If you’re like me, that was really hard to do. My mentality for so many years has been stay busy, be productive, provide outcomes, and be “successful.” In order to accomplish those things, I was constantly on the move working many jobs, traveling here and there, getting up early and going to bed late just to do it all again the next day. Don’t get me wrong, I felt like superwoman balancing multiple jobs, housework, spending time with friends and family, etc. One thing I failed to balance was my health and sanity. Once we entered quarantine, and realized it was going to be longer than expected, I freaked out. My husband was an essential worker, so I was at home all day, with my pets and my thoughts. (Scary on so many levels!) Of course I communicated with friends and family but ultimately it was just me, myself, and I. For the first couple of weeks, I tried to distract myself with books and tv shows, “Tiger King” for sure. But that only lasted so long before I felt guilty for being “unproductive.” After that, I threw myself into hours and hours of research and brainstorming potential projects. Projects that I did have interest in, but each day they changed, or I trashed the idea, or lost interest. This was a new experience for me because I’m generally really motivated and excited for new things. I couldn’t understand why, all of a sudden, I felt like nothing more than a being with little purpose and little motivation. You see, in September I decided to change careers. At that time, I was excited and encouraged to finish my contract and then set foot on a new journey. From an early age, I knew I wanted to be someone who tried new things and took risks. What I didn’t know, and what we all didn’t know, is that my 12 month plan would be drastically changed and I was not in control. So not only did I feel like a being with little purpose, I didn’t have my defaults and fallbacks, like my career and various side jobs, in place either. What was I doing besides taking up space and sort of contributing to society? After living in this headspace for a while, the question popped into my head, “Am I losing myself or am I finding myself?” I brought this question up to some close, trusted friends of mine and after hours of discussion and reflection, my takeaway was that in order to find yourself, you do have to lose certain parts. This may be a duh to some of you, but for me, was pretty game-changing and frightening. Like I mentioned earlier, I felt like superwoman being able to handle so many things. If I started letting go of those, what would people think? Would they think I’m failing or giving up? I now know how debilitating this mindset was, but in the moment, it was a real fear.
My husband and I had been discussing moving for quite some time but didn’t have anything concrete besides desire. For many months, my husband had been unhappy at his job ultimately feeling the same way as me—taking up space and sort of contributing to society. One night during quarantine, we had a long discussion and the conclusion was that we would pinch our pennies so he could quit his job. For me, I was relieved because now I didn’t have to be alone with my thoughts and got to spend some much needed quality time with my husband. And it was wonderful! We reconnected on a deeper level and got to take advantage of our time together as opposed to scheduling obligated time together. One of the outcomes from all this time, was the revisited conversation of moving out of state.
I have moved plenty of times before living in different states and cities so why was this move so scary? ...Because we weren’t moving for the conventional reasons. We didn’t have jobs lined up, we didn’t have any friends or family in the area. We simply found a house we loved in a town that spoke to us, and we moved! For someone who has a 1 year plan, 5 year plan, and 10 year plan—this was quite a different approach. It forced me to search my soul for direction. I couldn’t search my brain because it was full of doubts, questions, and everyone else’s voices. The funny thing was I didn’t have to search long because my soul KNEW this is what I needed. I needed a different environment, different priorities, and a different lifestyle. I felt so lost before because I wasn’t listening to myself. I was listening to the other voices, the social media posts, and even the self help books.
Fast forward to now and in our new home, and I am in a much better space mentally, physically, and spiritually. I still have doubts enter my brain and some days are harder than others. It’s still new and I’m still figuring out how to prioritize, or just sit on the couch all day. But the cliche, “a change is a good as a rest,” has been coming true for me. I’m enjoying having fewer responsibilities and basking in the fact that I am still valuable and important. I am learning that productivity to me is less about what society considers as “accomplished” and more about how I feel at the end of each day. It was a productive day if I took quiet time to meditate or if I made a phone call to a friend. I feel accomplished when I check 1 thing off my todo list or I check 5 things off — either way, I accomplished something and that’s great! I feel fulfilled if I laughed really hard OR cried really hard.
I struggle with severe stress and anxiety. I will always struggle with it; but I am trying to take steps in the right direction to deal with it safer and healthier. Moving in a pandemic was the first step and I’m excited to take more steps. Little did I know that the next journey of my life would be learning who I am and what makes me healthy. And I am thankful to be in this journey, regardless of my age or some timeline that we are supposed to follow. Right now, I have no freaking idea what I’m supposed to do with my life and it’s pretty cool.
Katie Wilber (author) from Virginia on December 29, 2020:
Alison, thanks for commenting. I think it's so important for us to know we are not alone in our struggles and experiences! Thanks for reaching out and keep doing the best you can -- because that in itself is AMAZING!
Alison on December 29, 2020:
I love this. I was the same way with my productivity. I was going and going all the time and we moved during a pandemic. My husband and I had our second child and I have been home ever sense feeling a little unproductive and like I’m not contributing. I’ve come to realize the same though- Whether I accomplish something “small”, “big”, a lot or very little that day, I accomplished something. Thanks for this!