At the ripe old age of 35 I've come to the realization that there are a lot of things I will not be in this life time. A professional ballet dancer, which was my earliest wish. An Olympic Athlete, which was my dream as a teenager. I'm probably not going to be someone who creates the next Facebook, or comes up with life changing medical advancements either. In short, now and then I feel a bit down that I'm not going to "achieve" that much in my life as I had hoped as a child. I worry I haven't fulfilled my potential. That I'm not a "success" in anything.
When I shake myself out of my self pity party, I take a look around myself and see some beautiful things. I'm a wife to a great guy. A daughter to wonderful parents. A sister, sister-in-law and aunt. I'm a friend to a lot of smart, kind and loving people and I'm the mum to a kid I feel blessed to hold every day. I'm healthy and we are financially stable. Things are pretty good here.
My self pity comes from my own and also society's expectations and definitions of success. I'm not a CEO, or a director or an engineer. I've struggled for years to define myself as a professional. What do I do? For years I worked in advertising at what's renowned as the best company in the world to work for, but didn't find the world fulfilling. I had big numbers to hit and, while I did my job well, I was more interested in other things, like creating websites, writing copy, making videos, social and marketing.
I've hesitated to write down my "profession" on a business card or website as until now I really didn't know what to say. All the words felt so limiting when written down -- too small to describe the scope of what I did and when put together, a rag tag bunch of descriptions that made me sound like a very confused person. Writer. Photographer. Editor. Social media and marketing strategist. I'm all of these things, but also not any of them.
I've finally realized that what I am is a storyteller. What makes me happy, and has always made me happy, is telling stories. When I was younger, I used to enjoy making up stories, but in recent years I've loved telling real stories -- mine and of other people. Not big, hard hitting news stories, or words that become manifestos, but the smaller, quiet words that make up our day-to-day lives. The words that aren't really that important, but are at the same time, because they reflect who we truly are at the heart of our lives. Our stories, as simple as they are, are worth telling and recording.
Storytellers have always been a critical part of human society. The people who document life and pass on folk lore to the next generation. The observers, the watchers, the ones who are good at noticing and remembering.
If this is my purpose, it's a pretty good thing to be. It's a small life, a quiet one, but one that is beautiful and worth having.
Christine Knight writes about navigating the world and parenthood at christineknight.me.