Own It

“The problem,” my friend said, “Is not that you made the choice to do one thing and not the other, it’s that you didn’t OWN it.”

I am a people pleaser by nature.  I want people to approve of me, to like me and think I’m nice or fun or smart or whatever it is they value.  Did you catch that?  What they value. Often I’m so busy worrying about what people think of a particular choice that I don’t really put everything I have into what I chose.  I spend too much time apologizing rather than just saying “This is me.  This is my calling.”  I don’t own it.

On her excellent blog The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin identifies what she calls “secrets of adulthood” and says “you can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do” and that you will be happier if at some point you own up to the things you like and don’t like and decide to be yourself.

Obviously you could take that totally out of context and say “Gee, I feel like robbing a bank so I’m going to be myself and go for it” but the point is more that, all things being equal, just because something makes someone else happy or relaxed or fulfilled doesn’t mean it will make you feel the same way. You’ll be more effective if you figure out your own unique calling than if you spend your life chasing after other people’s gifts.

Over the past several months I’ve been thinking a lot about where I am in life and where I’d like to be in the future: as a Christian, as a woman, as a wife, as a mom, as a writer, and so forth.  Some things in my life have been out of balance because I’ve been trying very hard to make myself find joy in the same ways that other people find joy.  I was wishing I had gifts other than the gifts God gave me, which is pretty foolish if you think about it.

I was listening to a CD about Mary Kay to help out my neighbor who is starting a business.  I don’t use Mary Kay products or have any interest in the business other than helping my neighbor, but as I listened to the women on the CD talk about how becoming a Mary Kay consultant changed their lives, and how now they wake up in the morning excited about the day and happy about the work in store for them a thought struck me.

That is exactly how I feel when my alarm goes off at 4:45am so I can get up and write.  I absolutely love the freelance writing work and business development I’ve been doing lately.  It doesn’t even feel like work.  I go to bed at night looking forward to waking up before the crack of dawn to work.  And I find that because I’m feeling more creative and professional fulfillment, I’m also in better balance with ministry and family work too.  I’m better at homeschooling because I know what hours I need to budget for that and I’m better at being a good wife and mom because I’m less stressed and frustrated.  It feels great to really own what works for me, rather than pushing it aside to try to be what other people are.

The key is not being a Mary Kay consultant, or being a freelance writer, or teaching your kids Latin, or baking homemade bread from scratch.  The key is pinpointing what it is that makes YOU excited to wake up in the morning.  What sort of balance do you need to be in that spot where work doesn’t feel like a slog, but is joyful even when it’s hard?  Find it and own it!

39 thoughts on “Own It

  1. Love this post!

    By the way, you have no idea how much you’re encouragement of me to “own it” in my own life a few weeks ago changed my perspective.

    Can’t wait to see what exciting things God has for your future as you excel and embrace who He has uniquely called and gifted you to be!

  2. Thank you! THIS is what I needed to hear. I have recently started devoting more time to what I want to do- blogging is helping me practice writing daily and helping me develop a routine. I now have to “own” it. Still leary about telling people I write… Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. It’s really hard to tell people you’re writing, isn’t it? I feel like I have to apologize for not having my novel published yet (actually I only have a first draft and a small part of a second draft, so I’m nowhere NEAR published!). But I shouldn’t – I need to own it! I’m glad you found the post helpful.

      1. I so identify with this – “It’s really hard to tell people you’re writing, isn’t it? I feel like I have to apologize for not having my novel published yet.”

        In my case, I’ve been published, but I write in a genre that’s not as respected as others. I’ve struggled this year, trying to decide whether to abandon a promising career in a genre I own, but don’t share with my friends and family, or start fresh in a genre I’d be more willing to truly “own”. As I thought about it, I realized it’s all about ego for me. I am a writer who would write even if I wasn’t published, but I still want others to like what I do. Like you, I’m working on letting that go, and owning who and what I am even if others don’t like it or think it’s good enough.

        Thanks for the post. It’s given me food for thought and, some days, that’s exactly what I need.

        1. That’s a tough call. I struggle with that a little bit, since I mostly read literary fiction but wonder if what I’m writing is going to be literary level or the kind of fluffy stuff I don’t even read myself! But I think if you’re at the point where you love what you’re doing so much that you’d do it even if you weren’t paid or published, you’re in the right spot! Thanks for commenting!

  3. WOW! I feel like I just read my own mind, I mean what I’ve been trying to get out of my head! I have been stuggling with being a people pleaser & not “owning” my own joy. Thank you for writing this as it hit me & “woke” me up!!! As Francesca Battistelli says in her song “I’m free to be ME!” Thank you again! Shelley

  4. I was directed to this post by the amazing Crystal of MSM above… so glad I clicked the link to read! It’s such a great reminder to use the gifts God gave us for His glory! Thank you for the inspiration 🙂

  5. As one who struggles to find the motivation to get out of bed in the mornings, I love your perspective. I *do* enjoy writing and working on my blog and other online projects. If the mornings were the “only” time I allowed for myself to do so, I would probably be much more likely to jump out of bed at the crack of dawn to do so. As I reevaluate my daily routines, I think that this will definitely be an area that I consider – limiting myself to only being able to write/blog/etc in the mornings…

    1. Building anticipation is a great motivator for me. Oddly, this doesn’t work as well with things like getting up early to exercise. 🙂 But it’s great to find what brings you joy and then allow yourself to make time for it. I hope the schedule changes work for you!

  6. Thanks, Catherine! As I am not a writer, you have put into words something I have been feeling since taking on this new role of being a mom… what I think it “should” look like, and what I am happy with it looking like. I just need to own it and not worry what others think about it. And balance is always the key. Lots to continue thinking and praying about, but thanks for putting part of it into words to spur on that thinking.

    1. I think the mom identity brings all of this out in a totally different way. I sort of floundered from bandwagon to bandwagon as a mom, and really lost sight of myself at times. It’s a challenge because so many people have very deeply held convictions on how to be a mom, even in areas that are differences of method not of principle. It can be especially difficult to own a difference when everyone else you know is doing the opposite.

  7. I echo others when I say “thanks” for this! I wholeheartedly agree with what you have said. I recently quit my job to stay home with my toddler and be more “present” with my school-age son. Although things are not where I’d like them to be financially, I could not imagine forcing myself into a job that is less than fulfilling now that I have experienced true joy.
    That being said, I LOVE to write and research and I am a very social person… I have been praying hard about whether I should start a blog. Writing is my true calling and I am equally as passionate about the topics I research… perhaps I need to just “own it” and take that leap of faith.

    1. It has really helped me to see that I don’t have to be EITHER working OR being a mom. I can be home with my kids AND working in a way that is compatible with my family’s needs and my personal goals for myself and for my children. We’re all called in different ways and our callings can be different at different times in our lives. I think that’s really freeing!

  8. People pleasing is something I really struggle with! I try to remember the words of that eminent philosopher Dr Seuss: ‘Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind’.

    This is a wonderful post and it has really helped me sort a few things out in my own mind. I just want you to know that I am going to bed tonight a much calmer and happier person than I have been in a long time and it is all thanks to your inspirational post.

    Thank you!

  9. Thanks so much for this post–just totally put it perfectly! I am at that place where I need something to invest in to keep me more balanced and joyful. Something I love and am passionate about (like I was about teaching)- without leaving my baby everyday! Thanks so much for reminding me as well that God knows my needs.

    1. I think having children really helped me focus (eventually!) in on the aspects of my former work that I really enjoyed. Because I don’t want to be gone all day every day at this point, it helped to narrow down the components that I was REALLY passionate about, the pieces that I really loved. Perhaps the same would be true for you about teaching. Maybe at this stage you can’t commit to teaching full time, but if you discerned the parts of your work that brought you the most joy, you could find a way to do those things in some capacity and enjoy a balance that works for you. Just a thought! I hope you find what you are looking for!

  10. Very interesting post. As mom’s there’s a ton of guilt out there when we stop to take two seconds for ourselves. I think what is most difficult is establishing the line between not enough time and too much time; which is different for every family/season. I look forward to hearing more about your writing.

  11. I’m just searching for what that passion is for me. This is a particular challenge since my work as a nurse has often filled that void and now I’m working so much less than I have in ten years. You’ve got me thinking (as usual). Did you always know that writing was your passion or has this developed over time?

    1. I have been writing stories for fun since I was really little (most ended with catastrophic covered wagon crashes) and always loved writing. When I was in high school I went to Governor’s School for Humanities one summer and one of my seminars was on finding your gifts. At the end of the seminar we had to write a paper describing our gift. I thought I didn’t know mine, but at the end of my presentation the professor said, “How clever! You wrote about not knowing your gift but clearly it’s writing!” In college I always tried to take classes that involved long papers rather than exams. At my old job I loved the writing parts and could take or leave the other parts. I’ve always known I loved writing, but I haven’t always allowed myself to do it, or believed it was OK for me to do it.

      I do think callings can change and morph over the years as seasons of life come and go. It’s hard to be in a transition phase and not know what to do with your callings. I have always thought of you as being particularly gifted at balancing your callings, Monica. It will be interesting to see what God calls you to next!

  12. Wow! I am about to write a series on this very topic on my blog (just wrote a bit about it last week). Hopping over from MoneySavingMom…thank you for such powerful words, I heartily agree. Freedom has been found in my life by practicing this very principle.

    Naturally, I fall into the trap here & there, so thank you so much for the encouragement. I plan to link back here in my writing.

    Grace as you pursue all that God has placed on your heart.

  13. Hi,
    my mom sent me this article to read. I needed to read it. Its everything thats been going on in my head for awhile now. In short, Im currently unemployed, not married, not even dating and without children. I always thought by this time I’d have those things. I have been “watching my life go by” while others enjoy things Ive envied wether its travel or having a family or the career that makes them happy. Im jealous of a friend who currently moved to Korea to fulfill a teaching career. Though I do not envy her lifestyle, I wish I had the oppurtunity. I have spent the past 8 mos trying to decide what makes me happy and have been exploring more of my passions. (I’m a pastry chef) Even though I am jobless I devote all my time to kids and my church. I eat sleep and breathe my church activites. I have decided to start writing again to perhaps finally get one of my books published. Many have put me down throughout my life, teachers, friends, co-workers with the explination that Ill never make it. Ive heard it so long I gave up on film and acting, my writing, and other dreams I had. Now that I have the time to explore things more I am hoping that God will open the door for me. I feel like that its a big part of me right now that needs to be fulfilled. I spend so much time deciding what I should do like others, that I dont do for myself. Thank You for writing this. Im going to print it out and keep it to refer back too when Im feeling blue. 🙂

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