She had as she described a good upbringing, her parents were very involved and supportive and she “never wanted for anything.” I wasn’t at first clear how I could help her as she didn’t seem to have any issues other than a bad career choice. And she’d already been to the career coach!
However, on unraveling of how she got to where she was at this stage of her life, it transpired that yes she had had many interests as she had done ballet, gymnastics, soccer, swimming, music, drama and hockey while at secondary school. These were mostly done outside the school as her parents wanted her to have hobbies and develop her skills and interest.
It quickly became evident to me that in fact she had no sense of her self, her own identity, what she liked and disliked and where her passions and strength lay. She’d lost her sense of self along the way, and her well-intentioned parents had left “no room for her” to be, hang out and get to know who she was. She was so busy doing what they had planned for her and being reasonably good at it that she had no sense of where she was in it.
She did get the grades for university but disliked the course she and her parents had chosen but once again had very little motivation, engagement, and pleasure in what she was doing. She got through the course and got a job. However she feels entirely unsuited to what she is doing, that is she letting her colleagues down because of her lack of commitment and feels very bad about herself!
It strikes me that this is a result of the culture we are in, parents feel that they should keep their children busy and do things that are “developing” them, especially if they have the financial resources to provide this. Children are ferried around from ballet to gymnastics to swimming class and so on. In this digital age, there is a particular motivation to keep your child off the screen as well as keeping them busy and usefully engaged. But at what cost?
My client lost her connection to who she is, what were her strengths and passions and also her ability to be with herself. All she knew was keeping busy and running around doing endless activities that she didn’t particularly enjoy. She thought she might have enjoyed soccer but not sure!
As adults too we run a similar risk of busying ourselves so much that we disconnect from ourselves, lose our sense of who we are and our direction. Many of us are working long hours, being very busy with lots of things, spending hours staying connected in our various digital ways but what are we doing to ourselves? We also need downtime, time to do nothing, to reflect and connect with ourselves again! Spending time in nature, being quiet, relaxing and doing what we love can help with staying in touch with ourselves.
The connection to ourselves –is in my view the most important one of all and the one we need to consider for our children and ourselves. We can regain this, but maybe we need to put it on top of our “To do list”.!