With increased access to the lives of others—or rather, the lives of others as they appear on social media—it can be easy to feel like everyone else on your feed is going places in both the figurative and literal senses. It’s perfectly understandable if you experience periods of wondering if you’re mobile enough, social enough, ambitious enough, or wanderlust-y enough. Comparison traps and bouts of fear-of-missing-out (FOMO) can fill one with self-doubt and low self-esteem.
During the past two years, I’ve largely been staying at home being pregnant and then caring for our little one. I’ve cut back on travel (even little day trips) and put my professional ambitions on the back burner, including reducing the amount of career-related work I do on a daily basis. Most new mothers have to negotiate this exchange in one way or another, discover their new limits, and find a (kind-of) balance in the ever-shifting landscape of motherhood. I doubt it’s easy for anyone. I know I’m not the first one to share that the big, blooming joy of parenthood is a complex joy. While I’m now able to get out of the house more and I’m working on planning a weekend holiday (finally!), I can still sometimes feel that the entire world around me is moving and growing and buzzing while I’m standing still.
Of course, parenthood isn’t the only reason you may find yourself coming into contact with your limits. Perhaps your job keeps you pinned down and demands all of your energy. Maybe caring for a loved one means you always need to stay close by. Indeed for many, the struggle to make ends meet puts a limit on the amount of adventuring they have access to.
While upward mobility or expanding your horizons (however you want to define that) may always be something we’re working toward, sometimes the immediate goal is blooming where you’re planted.
Sure, “bloom where you are planted” is a cutesy phrase that would go beautifully on a pillow sold on Etsy, but it’s also something that really resonates with me. For me, it’s about finding ways to maximize your current station in life, refusing to let it be a “placeholder” life even if you’re not where you’d thought you would be at this point in your life. It involves cultivating a joy in the everyday and celebrating the positive—but it’s also about growing within the realm of the possible. Perhaps you can’t leave your job and teach yoga in a faraway place, but you can still achieve meaningful personal development. It doesn’t mean that you have to accept exactly where you are for all of eternity or letting go of bigger dreams—it’s just about being the best version of yourself today. Here’s how I plan to do it.
1. Add value every day. On days when I feel a bit isolated (okay, quite isolated), I half-jokingly ask my husband, “Am I still a real person?” As a tutor, I often work with graduate students who have published in their field or participated in incredible humanitarian projects. It really puts my small achievements into perspective, and I quickly feel that I haven’t done enough to help others. But the truth is, I am still a real person, and I do add value to the lives of others on a daily basis—and I’m sure you do, too! I suggest not letting yourself forget that. Mentally list all of the ways you added value to another person’s day. Once you begin to notice how you contribute to the world, you may be inspired to take things up a notch and do a little more when the opportunity presents itself.
2. Acknowledge value every day. This is a wonderful exercise to help you become more aware of the abundance in your life. Just as you add value to the lives of others, you are also on the receiving end of a lot of value—beautiful weather, a kind gesture, a lucky break, a healthy meal…
3. Commit to the present. Being consumed with longing to be somewhere else or do something different can stymie personal growth. Planning for and dreaming about the future can be productive activities, of course, but it’s worth making a commitment to be more fully present for what’s going around you now. There are mornings when I find myself wanting to get out of the house or dive into a busy day of desk work (after all, that was a huge part of my life for years), but instead, I’m needed elsewhere. I set my phone aside, play with my kiddo, and change diapers with a smile. Part of being present, for me at least, involves inviting joy into the moment—thinking, this ordinary moment can be special if I open myself to it.
4. Establish and work on goals within the realm of possibility. One of the ways to shake the sense that you’re stuck in a static spot is to plan and work toward goals that are small stepping stones on the way to something larger—or even just small goals that are ends themselves. Doing so will illustrate that you are not, in fact, frozen in amber or wilting away. Be sure to look back at where you began when you started working toward said goal and celebrate where you are now.
5. Find other ways to expand your world. Even though I’m not traveling the globe, I like to “expand my world” by reading about art from different parts of the world or reading about different time periods. You can do something similar—studying a different language, reading about someone in a different (or perhaps similar) situation, joining an online community of enthusiasts for something you love, listening to new music, watching documentaries or a new show…the possibilities are endless—and will probably make you feel more connected to the world outside of your neighborhood.
Now bloom, you flower, you!
How do you bloom where you are planted?
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