“I feel envious of my friend who is successful. It’s not her money, or her job or her husband that I want. It’s that I don’t get to do what I am good at. I have skills that I never get to use. I spend so much of my time doing stuff that I don’t want to do, being someone I am not. Saying yes when I want to say no.”
My friend was talking out her frustrations. She wasn’t seeking sympathy or pity, just clarity. She wanted to gain insight into what is blocking her success.
She arrived at: “I have skills that I don’t get to use.”
I listened to her intently and could feel her frustration deep in my being. I know that frustration, I thought.
Have you ever felt that way? Not being able to do something you are good at or doing something you are good at and not being compensated for it accordingly?
I had been listening to my friend’s recorded voice memo. She lives overseas and between international time zones, work and kids, we don’t get to sit and chat as we used to. So we record voice memos on our phones and send them to each other.
As I finished listening to the recording, I started thinking about the frustration she had articulated so well: “having skills that I don’t get to use”.
A few thoughts went through my mind: “There are no guarantees in life. Not for anything. Hard work doesn’t guarantee wealth. Being good doesn’t guarantee a life free of suffering. Marriage doesn’t guarantee a long, fulfilling relationship. Health doesn’t necessarily equal happiness.”
“Having skills doesn’t mean you get to use them.” Boo.
So, what can we do with all that love, hard work, skills that want to bust out to brighten our lives and jazz up the world along the way? What can we do with all that desire to exercise our muscles that make us who we are?
More questions followed that train of thought: do we get to grow the parts of us that we want to grow? Will we get to bear fruit that we dearly wish to share with others?
The answer is yes. But it may not look like what you think it will look like or happen when you want it to happen.
So, in the meantime, this is what we do.
We can use that love, that hard work, those skills and apply them to our daily lives, at work, and at home. Instead of hoarding them, we spend them. Let me give you an example of this.
My grandmother started this and now my parents follow in her footsteps and in my own way I am following her example too. You see, when my grandmother attended the gurudwara (temple) she would clean/brush the shoes of the worshippers with her headscarf. I remember watching her do this and wondering to myself: why is she doing this? She’s not really cleaning their shoes, so what is she doing?”
My parents attend the same gurudwara and they clean the bathrooms as part of their seva (selfless service). They could work in the kitchens or sweep but instead, they choose to do this task – one that most people avoid.
And now me: Although I do not currently attend a gurudwara or have time to do any charity work, I do clean and prepare our rentals for new tenants. As I scrub, sweep, and mop, I have the feeling that I imagine my grandmother had: gratitude for being able to be of service, to create order and beauty, to be able to unharness oneself of life’s burdens through the simple act of work. Any work.
I feel a tremendous sense of peace and joy. In fact, I would like to feel this way no matter what I am doing, whether writing a blog post (hello love!), working with a client, making dinner or cleaning up after my dogs. To accomplish this, I focus on how grateful I am, to be able to be do anything and everything that comes my way.
It has taken me many years to reach this point. I can still recall trying to avoid all cleaning work in my youth. Back then, seva seemed like such a waste of time. Because of those memories, I know that this method of finding fulfilment is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.
If you don’t resonate with the above approach, let me ask you this: if you were using the skills that you have and utilizing them fully, how would you feel? What kind of people would you spend time with? What time would you go to bed and wake up? What thoughts would fill your mind? Would you have time to go for walks? Would you have time for leisurely lunches? How would your life be different?
I ask these questions because I want you to open the door wide and think about what that life you seek looks like.
Pare away the outer shell of the what it is that you seek to do and dive into the feelings you wish to feel. Is peace important? Are you wanting to taste excitement? Unlimited joy? Connection? Sense of achievement? Keep asking yourself: what am I really seeking to feel/experience.
Once you have honed in on these feelings you can start taking the first steps towards creating the proper environments for you to grow and prosper in. For example: if a sense of achievement is important to you or you want to feel like you are making a difference then seek ways in which you can experience that. Big and small.
Here are some suggestions:
- Search online for a job position that would be the perfect job for you. Do you meet their requirements? Do they meet your requirements? Keep looking. Keep refining your search
- Work with a charity – selfless service is very rewarding and helps to create momentum in anyone’s life
- Explore your skill set. Is it current? Could it do with an update?
- Do something purely for you – something you love. Pottery, photography, hiking. Something that will reawaken your passions.
- Value how you want to feel. Pursue that.
There are many ways to deal with frustration and disappointments and my sense is that the when we enquire about what we want, we will always land on the shores of our feelings. Love is a feeling. Feeling safe is a feeling. Success is a bundle of feelings. Feelings reside in us and we can activate them, cajole them, warm them up and engage with them and when we do that with awareness and focus the return we get is beyond our wildest imaginings of happiness and fulfilment.
We become free.
Have a great week, my friends. Are there frustrations keeping your joy under lock and key? Bust out and share your story with us. Please share this post with anyone struggling with disappointment or just needing a reframe for events in their life.
*art by Banksy