Searching for balance

“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us.” ~Joseph Campbell

Finding balance is a constant, ongoing struggle for me in so many areas of my life. There are days when I think that almost everything that I ever struggle can eventually be reduced down to a question of balance.

The particular area of balance that I am struggling with today has to do with trying to figure out what I am called to do in this life. I want to make a positive, healing difference in the world around me, but I seem to be particularly unsuited to do so. But the longing to be able to do something in this world along those lines is so intense that I cannot seem to leave this question alone.

So I swing between trying all kinds of different work that seems like it might enable to make the kind of difference I want in the world and becoming so discouraged that I sit and wait for insight to strike out of the blue, hoping for some grand revelation like a lightening bolt that will make everything clear. Neither approach is working. Not even a little bit.

I spent over a decade knowing that I needed to be doing something different, but I did almost nothing to make any changes because I didn’t know what to do. I wound up spending so much time just drifting in and out of depression that I had no real energy to do much else.

The last few years, I’ve been trying hard to capitalize on this period of such change and transformation by pushing myself to get out and at least try every possibility that came my way. I’ve tried to head through as many open doors as I encounter because I’m so aware that life is short, and if I don’t try things out, I may never find the right thing for me. That has led to an awful lot of failure as one thing after another has proven to be the wrong direction.

My confidence in my basic abilities has taken such a beating that sometimes I don’t know if I’ll ever find my way back to where I was when this whole process began. My self-esteem has never been high, but it’s never been as low as it is at this point in my journey.

I’m feeling bruised enough that I’m ready to give up on all of the trying and just go back to drifting. The problem is that I know from personal experience that it won’t get me any clearer on where I need to go. On the other hand, continuing to fail at one thing after another isn’t doing me much good either.

Surely there must be some balance between getting out there trying new things and staying home to rest and recuperate, but I haven’t found it yet. And I’m farther from any answers now than I have been in a long time as my self-confidence continues to wane.

Maybe it’s time for a season of doing nothing (after this semester is over anyway) just to try to regain some sense of balance. Maybe some insight will arise during that time. Or maybe I will find a way to let go of this need to make a difference. Either one would be helpful.

In the meantime, I need to continue to look at places I can let go and do less, ways to let go of needing to make a difference, and ways to let go of seeing myself as someone who can make the kind of difference I wanted to make. Perhaps letting go of that identity will allow some other dream to arise that might be more within my ability and skills to accomplish.

A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a fragile and vulnerable place to be, so I am committed to keeping this a safe place for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight are not welcome here and will be deleted.

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15 thoughts on “Searching for balance

  1. I know that I don’t know you in any way other than your words, but it sounds like you could use a hug. So here….consider yourself hugged…. (((KJ))). If I lived nearby I’d rush right over and give you one in person. Some days it’s just hard to put one heavy-laden, wandering foot in front of the other, isn’t it? As many blessings as I can list in my daily life, it seems to me there is always that one “thing” that’s just out of reach. And I’m always confident that one “thing” will, when I find it, make my world right. I am hurting for your discouragement. I’d tell you to keep your chin up and forge on, but I get tired of hearing that myself. So I shall tell you what I tell myself on these nights…”The sun will rise and with it will come the light.” Sometimes that’s all the promise we need to make it through the shadows. I, for one, value your honest revelations in your post.

    • Thank you, dear Lisa. I did indeed need a hug, and your virtual hug has started my day out well. I am so very grateful for your kindness and your understanding words telling me that I am not alone in feeling this way sometimes. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your encouragement and your compassionate response!

  2. I have no idea how old you are, but don’t give up hope. Sometimes is does take a season if silence and stillness for that calling to come to us. I spent 50 years searching, and it is only been within the last year that I was given a clear direction of the type you are looking for in your life. Timing is everything. You just might not be ready yet πŸ˜‰

    • Thanks so much for the encouragement, OneHotMess. Perhaps I need to learn patience to wait until the right time. I have spent many years in the stillness and waiting and now several years in the trying and doing. But if I am not yet ready to do whatever work it is that I am meant to do, then neither approach will be helpful (as has indeed been the case). Thanks for mentioning this possibility! It gives me something else to consider.

  3. I, too, like Joseph Campbell, and as the quote says and you say–in particular your last paragraph–let go, which requires a great deal of us. A book that has helped me a great deal in letting go of my self-concept isThe Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer. It does not espouse one set of beliefs or religion but but explores consciousness with an “elegant simplicity” (Deepak Chopra description).

    It has taken me almost 60 years to appreciate the gift of letting go. Who knows what age we open this gift but it is always ours. I, too, appreciate your honest exploration of such intriguing questions.

    Karen

    • Thank you so much for the encouragement and the book suggestion, Karen. I will have to look for that one; it sounds like something that would be of great benefit to me. I think I currently have a very hard time distinguishing between letting go and giving up. They feel the same to me, but I suspect that there is a distinction that I am missing in the way that I approach it that would be of value to me to discover. Thanks again for the comment and for the encouragement!

  4. I hope with the morning’s light came a lighter sense of heart. Your words have been heavy on my heart throughout the morning – in a good, reflective way.

    Last week in class (I am in a social work program), we were discussing this “call to help” we are driven by. One student I have befriended became distraught at the thought that helping as many people as possible was the main objective in her career path. Her angst was visible when she considered the number of people she could touch as opposed to the relative few she probably would.

    My friendly response to her – and now you as I reflect on your words – is to understand (or be reminded of in your case) the premise of life’s ripples. If we make an impact on a single person in our journey, we have helped countless others because of those ripples they in turn make. A simple smile to a cashier at a store could turn into a compassionate change when they return home to a troubled life…which in turn could lessen the stress of her child who is sensitive to her mother’s distress…who could go to school the next day and offer that same smile to a hurting friend. These ripples NEVER, EVER end – be they positive or negative.

    KJ, you make a difference every time someone reads your words – or you reach out to reply to those of us who respond to your words. The ripples continue. Although you are, in probability, talking about a career path of helping, do not doubt that you are already a helper. And that concludes my morning sermon. πŸ˜‰

    • Thank you, archimedesspiral, for your kind words. I think you are right that I am wanting to know that I am making a difference (and yes, I am thinking in career terms), but perhaps shifting my focus to having faith that I am making a positive difference even if I never see it would be a great help to me in this current frustration I am experiencing. I am so grateful to you for reminding me that the “small” unknown positive ripples are of more value than I tend to give them. Thank you!

  5. I read somewhere once that when you pray for patience, you are given opportunities to be patient. When I’m feeling the least patient, this phrase often pops into my head, usually with much annoyance on my part. I’ve been considering it quite a bit lately, as I’m in a period of drifting myself. I’m afraid I don’t have any answers for you, but perhaps, as others have said, you are not yet ready.

    I’ve nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award. πŸ™‚

  6. My last reply came across as ArchimedesSpiral but this is really Lisa. I have begun the process of starting my own blog and the program made me sign in when I tried to reply earlier! I’ll figure out the program soon, I hope. Wanted you to know I was following up on my late night post and am not a stranger to you. πŸ™‚

    • You are so sweet, Lisa! I recognized the email address, but I didn’t want to “out” you as being the same person if you were wanting to appear as a different identity. I am so excited that you are setting up your own blog! I can’t wait to read it. If you need help with the set up, please let me know, and I’d be happy to help you out offline. (With your permission, I could contact you by email, but I don’t do that without your permission.) Either way, I can’t wait to read more of your writing!

  7. Pingback: Acknowledging hidden gifts | Journey Through the Chrysalis

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