I graduated from mechanical engineering many moons ago with the wide-eyed dreams of youth backed by a zest for the future and a century’s worth of wishful thinking. For the next few years, life was a dream… jobs were plentiful, I was a newlywed and new mother, and even though finances were precarious (my husband went back to university to pursue a new career in a new city when my daughter was 4 months old) I had nothing but optimism for the future ahead. What was woefully missing, and I never realized it, was a sense of self (as in self-acceptance, pride and self-love.) While my business sense of self was intact, my personal worth and persona was based on the views of parents, husband and friends. As such, I found happiness only when others accepted me and I was making them happy.
Fast forward to today with grown children, grandchildren, years of experience, age and financial uncertainty. Jobs in my niche are scarce, ageism is rampant, savings are small and I wonder if I’ll ever be able to retire… hardly the image of success according to the “others” in my past, BUT, that’s all secondary to the fact that I’m truly happy.
Life has had many twists and turns, highs and lows, successes and failures, and I finally realize that all of the external success and acceptance by others in my life was a red herring. Happiness comes with self-acceptance and self-love, and without those, happiness is fleeting. Certainly love, parenting, friends, adventure, money and other things are important, but not when it comes at the expense or with the exclusion of self.
Good things from others in my life are the icing on the cake, but the cake is a foundation of self-love and self-acceptance.
Today as I see so many celebratory posts about parents and graduates, I find that I am revisiting, with new eyes, the dreams and hopes of graduation. The difference this time is that the hopes and dreams are based on being in love with myself first… and others second.
I’ve included below some of my favorite motivation/graduation style sayings. They resonate with me and I hope that a few will do so with you – no matter where you are in life and in love. Celebrate who YOU are and reach for the stars!