Caroline Greene started early in life to be an overachiever. In eighth grade she won all the academic awards. Then she headed off to Philips Exeter academy, followed by Yale and law school.
Ten years later, she had a husband and kids. But the career she expected to have instead materialized for her husband, not her. She had become a stay-at-home-mom while her husband became a partner in his law firm. She felt like she no longer mattered.
In her book Matter: How to Find Meaningful Work That’s Right for You and Your Family (The Well-Educated Mom’s Guide Book 1) , Greene walks us through the process of how to find meaningful work while remaining present for one’s family.
First came a grieving process as she looked at where she was in all aspects of her life compared to where she thought she’d be. I can really relate to this. I’m going through a compare and contrast process for the second time in my life right now.
Greene next talks about the need to seek validation from others versus the ability to self-validate. This one rings all too true with me too. She started by nurturing herself in four areas: rest, nourishment, movement, and touch. She started paying attention and feeling her emotions. bad and good.
Greene’s chapter Get Connected was another that resonated with me. Going it alone means being isolated from others. Greene realized she needed three kinds of friends. What she calls mommy friends are those who are in the same stage of life as you are. Professional friends share your educational or career background. Soul friends are the people with whom you just “click.” I had never thought of friendship in these terms, but they make a lot of sense. I might add one more category, those with whom you grew up, who share your history, or who knew you when.
Building relationships, she says, requires the ability to accept help.
Of course, obstacles arise. Two of these are guilt and shame. Greene defines guilt as feeling you did something bad while shame is feeling you are a bad person. But loving others doesn’t mean we have to put everyone’s needs ahead of our own. That’s not love; it’s martyrdom.
Only after all this introspection should you begin to list the characteristics of your ideal job. Focus on how you want to feel. Then start exploring possibilities. Be willing to make mistakes and to ask for help.
In the end, it is the work of being more of who we really are that matters.