Last week I sat at an honors banquet for the University of Wyoming College of Law.
I was wearing a little black cocktail dress, eyeliner (shocking!) and shoes with too much heel.
I felt awkward and out of place without my hiking pants and trail runners.
I was accompanying my husband who is in his second year of law school.
Somehow he’s been able to juggle the rigors of school with owning two small businesses and being a rad dad and great husband.
He excels at everything he does and makes it all look easy…but I know it’s not.
So there I sat, stuffing my face with cheesecake surrounded by all of these people who were so, well, accomplished.
From law students to attorneys, judges, and other professionals.
They all seemed to have amazing resumes with everything from prestigious jobs to leadership positions within their communities.
They did things like providing legal services to the public and volunteering for civic organizations, to coaching little league, baking pies for the county fair and slicing vegetables at the food kitchen.
Okay, so maybe not baking pies for the fair.
But everyone around me was just so put together.
Then there’s me. Just the wife of a law student.
I gave up my job, one that I was actually good at shortly after the birth of my first child.
All it took was one look into his big blue eyes to make me realize that I wanted to step off my career track so I could work from home and spend my days with him and eventually his little brother.
I know I’m lucky because the choice to leave my career was mine and mine alone. I’ve always felt fortunate to be able to do so.
As the evening progressed a Professor at our table interrupted my thoughts and asked me the inevitable…
“What do you do?”
I didn’t know how to answer.
- Do I say, I operate Just Trails while my husband is in school?
- Do I say that I blog every once in a while?
- Do I say that I run a small property management company?
- Do I say that I do some freelance work with a side of public relations?
- Or do I avoid all the follow-up questions and say that I just do a bunch of Mom stuff all day long?
You know, storytime, hiking, potty-training, hiking, teaching my kid to tie his shoelaces, hiking, playing trucks and dinosaurs, hiking, cleaning the house, hiking, grocery shopping, hiking, laundry, hiking, fixing meals, hiking, doing the dishes and hiking?
When we got home I was discouraged.
As I ripped off my heels I said to my husband, “I feel like I’m not doing anything! Like I’m not making a difference. Like I’m not making a contribution to the world.”
He reminded me that right now I’m doing exactly what I’ve always wanted to do.
And he’s right.
The next morning as I skied into a backcountry cabin with a kick ass group of my Mom friends for the weekend I became lost in my own little world thinking about my career, my goals, my dreams and my hopes for the future.
Just before the sunset I decided that I needed a few minutes alone so I ditched my friends in the cabin as they were warming up dinner and walked up a snowmobile path to an outdoor chapel.
Now I’m not a religious woman but for some reason I felt drawn to this place. It’s peaceful there.
And I needed to think.
And as I stood watching the sun sink low in the sky, looking at the pine trees, and the mountains in the distance I realized three things
- My contribution to the world is me.
There’s no one on earth who is exactly like me. I’m not perfect. I’m weird. I’m a big dork. But I’m me. And you’re you. And that’s cool. But it all starts with me, it all starts with us. With our attitude, with our determination and with our desire to make a difference.
- My contribution to the world is my family.
I am far from being an awesome mom and I really only have one parenting goal–to raise my children to be adults who will contribute to society. My kids don’t have to be perfect, or even high achievers. They might grow up to be really odd and awkward or something but hopefully I’ll raise them so they know how to work hard and be good citizens of planet earth.
- My contribution to the world is my community.
I’ve thought a lot about community lately. I’ve thought about my virtual community (that’s you and you’re rad!). I’ve thought about my physical community here in Wyoming and other communities that I’ve been a part of. How can I give the best of myself to my communities without giving so much that I’m tired, stressed out and neglecting myself and my family? Sometimes all I can give is a Friday morning hike with my hiking group.
I think every one of us has those moments where we feel completely inadequate or like a horrible underachiever.
In fact, I think it’s probably healthy to have those feelings every once in a while.
Feelings of inadequacy keep us from becoming arrogant jerks.
But I am thankful for a husband who took a few minutes to tell me that I am contributing to the world in my own unique way.
And you know what?
I’m pretty sure that you are too, don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t.
What contributions are you making to the world? Do you struggle with this too? Leave us a comment below or on our facebook page.
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