Growing up I had simple ideas of who I wanted to be or what I wanted to do as an adult. First it was a singer, then maybe a basketball star, or maybe a photographer of some sorts. I dabbled in all of it.
My parents took me to auditions for television, I played on nationally competitive ball teams, and my parents bought me my first camera. They fostered and cared for my every passion- no matter how frequent it changed.
Of course, I didn’t quite realize their drive for my success at the time but now, as an adult, hindsight shows me just how important of an influence my parents had on my interests. And now, as a mother, I understand it.
It wasn’t until the end of high school I had more of an understanding of what it was I truly wanted to do; I wanted to help people. I entered a university as a psychology major and growing up in a large military community, I thought the Veteran Affairs Office was where I was headed. Of course, my parents supported this dream too and I hit the ground running. I networked with the right people and worked hard in school. But, I still felt myself wanting to do “more” and feeling that maybe I wasn’t focusing on the right goal.
My desire to do more all started about my second year of schooling- I became a mother towards the end of my sophomore year and all of a sudden I was someone’s protector. Suddenly I had a little boy who looked up to me and the pressure of finding my “calling” was ever-present. However, there’s more to life than fulfilling ideas of how to make a living. The vital piece of information, that many miss, is finding who you are. Understanding the concept of self-actualization helps form a better realization of what you’re doing with your life, and where you want to be.
Self actualization means being all you can be, honoring your unique gifts and talents, and living a life of passion and purpose. In school, I was taught Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Basic needs need to be met, like food and water, then safety, love, self esteem- then self actualization becomes available. Of course, this is something I subconsciously was always striving for, but now I wanted to be an example of it for my son.
Sarah Lendt, a nationally certified counselor, states “Self-actualization is looking outside ourselves to do good for others, and receiving satisfaction in life for such behaviors.” She also states that people who have reached self actualization utilize their passions and talents in a realistic manner.
After having my son, I realized my talent was connecting with children. I had already been in early childhood for four years but becoming a mom only strengthened my ability to understand youth. My passion, still lied in psychology and I earned my BA after many night, Saturday, and online classes. When I graduated, I unexpectedly lost sight of what I wanted to do. See, that’s the thing about understanding yourself, it flows in seasons just like the rest of life. Events happen, you grow, you learn, and you readjust. My readjustment lead me to my end goal of elementary school counseling, my passion and talent finally collided.
There’s a lot of mess in finding yourself. A lot of struggle, a lot of questions, and a lot of those readjustments. I’m happy my son was a part of all of that this first time around. I never want to pretend to be anything less than human in front of him. I’ve learned that children learn best by example and all I hope is that I am a realistic one, with a touch of drive and beating the impossible.
I was blessed with parents who encouraged my every dream but also let me see the humanness in them. My goal, for myself and as a parent, is to set an example of enjoying the journey of life while reaching self-obtained goals. I need to show my boy how to find himself in this world by showing him that I find myself, time and time again.
~ Ms. Caitlin, Wellness Director