To start, let me say how amazing my friends are. When you write a personal post like my previous one, you never know how people are going to respond. I wrote it with the sole purpose of explaining my feelings--mostly so I could work things through for myself. I didn't expect to be trolled, but I didn't know if anyone would read it, let alone respond. My friends did respond (on Facebook), in force.
Many friends reminded me I'm not alone in struggling with my sense of value, and thanked me for sharing my feelings:
"I think value is something anyone with a good sense of self scrutinizes often. I know I do. Thank you for sharing."Some friends shared their similar experiences of setting aside a normal/more lucrative career for something their passionate about:
"I also have been feeling this- part of why I have stuck around in [my profession] so long is because I have an ingrained assumption that it is somehow more valuable to society than my other endeavors...even though I KNOW this to be untrue."
"As someone who went from gainfully employed to [an artist]... I HEAR YOU. All I can say is, the arts are IMPORTANT and motherhood is IMPORTANT. Don't feel like you're somehow worth less because you're not earning as many actual dollars as you were before. It's hard, though. I still struggle with it..."Some friends shared their reactions to when they meet/hear of someone who has an alternative career:
"It is hard to accept the fact that you have worked so many years and are moving down instead of 'up' like your friends/peers...As for your work seeming frivolous, I ask you to remember peoples' reactions when they meet a yoga or dance instructor. Usually it is with awe and jealousy. "Man, I wish I could do that for a living!"."
"There is one thing I ask myself that helps me in this situation: what would I think of someone else doing this? I don't know about you, but I admire people who find a way to do what they really love, whether they get paid for it or not. Including you!"A fellow instructor shared her experience of how teaching Pole has changed her students lives:
"When I first starting teaching pole I thought it was just a fun job to do to keep me busy and fit. The first time I had a student come up to me and tell me about how pole and the studio community had helped them feel more confident in themselves and that they were taking steps to end an abusive relationship, I thought it was a fluke. The second time it happened, I thought it was an odd coincidence. The third time it happened I realized there was a lot more going on than I had ever realized.
Progressing in pole or aerial and being able to do things you thought you would never be able to do in a million years is such an incredible confidence booster, and confident people can go on to make incredible changes in their lives and the world around them.
As a fellow higher education nerd/"career woman", I can absolutely understand how you may feel less valuable now, but you're definitely not!"
"You are not alone. And if many/all of us can feel this then "value" cannot possibly be based in the job of the moment. It's somewhere else inside us -- elusive at times -- subconscious until one renders it otherwise by having the courage to explore it out loud. I am willing to speculate that you are overlooking the many elements which compose the aggregate value of who you are."
to borrow from someone much wiser (authorship in dispute)
"No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in the present little instant. Take peace! ... Life is so full of meaning and of purpose, so full of beauty – beneath its covering – that you will find that earth but cloaks your heaven. Courage, then to claim it: that is all! But courage you have.."
Yes ... you have wonderful courage and that in and of itself has a value that cannot be compared to a traditional job. Good luck on your journey of thinking and discovery. Your willingness to say things out loud helps me -- and it seems many others."I feel all the positive comments sent my way has helped to bolster my courage. I am still uncertain about my future path, but I feel a little better about my current footsteps. Hopefully, I can find a internal compass or a map to help me find my way. As a first step in orienting myself, I'm going to work on a series of blog posts to explore my feelings and experiences around becoming a professional aeralist, and what that means for my personal value.
As a final note:
I hope no one at home was worried that I was on the verge of harming myself. It occurred to me after the fact, that some of my readers may have been worried about my mental health. Let me assure you, I am OK. Not fine, obviously, but although I at times don't love my life, I do love the people in my life far too much, to ever consider harming myself.