Well, I did it. I managed to make it through my 50th birthday, and have officially entered my 50′s. I did not go gently into that good night as it were, but I made it. It’s just another birthday, right? For someone who feels like life is already speeding out of control though, it’s like doing 50 in a 35.
I have a loving wife who puts up with me better than I do myself. I have 2 incredible boys. I have 2 amazing step-daughters and one damn cool grandkid. I have a mother who exemplifies what it means to be caring and generous. I have a brother I love and admire, more than he will ever know or understand. I have friends scattered throughout the world. Some close, some distant, but all are the best friends any person could ask for. I treasure each and every one of them. In short, I am one lucky SOB in many, many ways.
So, for someone who is so truly blessed, why have I been upset lately? Why did I dread my birthday like a trip to the dentist? Why do I feel depressed at times? After some serious “thinkin’ cap” time over the weekend, I think I know the answer, at least for my situation. Self Worth, and the lack thereof.
Self Worth. Two simple little words that can cause a world of emotional turmoil. A lack of self worth can cause depression, anger, angst. An over inflated self worth can cause egotism and elitism. In the middle, a healthy amount of self worth leads to contentment and happiness.
Lately, I’ve been dealing with a case of low self worth. I love futzing around with my book, writing this blog, making money here and there with consulting gigs. But the bottom line is I’m just getting by financially, and I’m also feeling a strange pull to go back into the corporate world. So I’m sending out resumes, working at going back to work if you will, and I’m finding that in today’s job market, that’s not as easy as it sounds. There is a very large contingent of folks who are out of work right now. Competition is stiff, and the possibility of going back to “ground zero” and effectively starting all over again can be a real hit to one’s self worth. Lower self worth causes depression. Depression can make one lethargic and therefore less likely to actively seek a job, leading to even lower self worth and… You see where this is going. It’s a wicked trap, and the idea of turning 50 just added to the low self worth.
I began to ask, Is there a way out of a trap like this? I think so, and I think it comes down to one realization. We control of our own self worth. Sure, we all have to deal with the external forces, those outside influences that affect how we look at ourselves. But in the end, we choose to make our own determination of how, or if, we apply those forces. I mean, it’s called self worth for a reason, no? Take the idea of getting back to corporate work. Filling out applications, interviews with folks 20 years younger, rejection letters, all of it can affect self worth. Setting a goal of getting a job by a certain date just adds to the stress, which also can affect self worth.
So what the hell do you do? How can you control self worth in this situation? Break things down into goals that can be met on a day by day basis. Then meet that daily goal. Your daily goal. Don’t say I need to have a job by next month for example. Make a goal of redoing your resume for one day. Sending it out to 3 contacts the next. Writing followups the day after that. Rinse, repeat. By setting smaller, more obtainable goals your feeling of self worth will go up, and you’ll end up hitting those farther reaching goals. Allow yourself to feel good about sending out resumes. Don’t fall into the “but they didn’t get me a job” trap. The key to it all is finding self worth. Whatever it takes, find it. Understand and believe that we all have value and purpose, we just may forget what it is from time to time. Find it.
Now, this is just one example. The principle is the same though. Small steps lead to long journeys. Old, old advice. Hell, all of this has been said so many times I’m surprised it’s not tattooed on our brains. The trick is taking the time to find out what is really causing the loss of self worth. Find that reason for the loss, then you can go about getting it back again.
For me, I plan on getting this out-of-control feeling back under control, thereby getting my self worth back, by going to a local meditation center. I need focus and clarity and I feel like I can get it by some intense retrospection. Looking back to move forward and all that. I’m also taking my own advice on the job hunting front. Deep down I know I have purpose and I’ll find it again.
In the meantime, I’m learning to embrace getting older for what it is. Hell, I even joined the AARP (grin).