Work that feels like play? Possibility or myth? I for one always believed the play theory is for real. If we do what we’re naturally good at, then we’ll not only get a job we love, we will do it well.
I had that – I was a good mom. The task of raising three boys amidst complete chaos was my forte, without one cent of pay. But they got older and my life’s mission needed shifting, despite my struggle with ongoing health issues and survival fatigue. I had developed a hearty self-sufficiency for emotional resilience in a life with extraordinary circumstances, but years of trauma wore me out. Still, I wanted the normalcy of a paying job I love, before it’s time to retire.
Luckily I believe anything is possible, even at my seasoned age. So I figured out what I’m good at and where my passion lies – writing – and along with a zillion other self-proclaimed writers ventured into the field. Without any professional experience, I grew my confidence after several years as a feature writer for small publications then one day clear out of the blue I was tossed onto a playing field of top-of-the-food-chain educational writers.
Although super-intellectual, using-big-words-and-thoughts writing felt way outside my wheelhouse, I tried to rise above the occasion to get the job done. People around me cheered me on and told me I could do it. “You got this, you’re a smart gal and a great writer.” But that’s like telling a kindergarten teacher to go teach a graduate class on nuclear physics because she is a teacher. “You can do it! It’ll be fun!”
It was way over my head, and I struggled and fought and cried. And what I found unsettling was that nobody really listened when I told them this was stressing me out. Instead they told me to simmer down, I would be just fine. But I wasn’t.
What I really needed – besides a couple graduate degrees, worldly experience and a brainiac mind – was for people to meet me where I am and honor that, not where they thought I should be. Sure it’s interesting to learn new things, explore unchartered territory, expand our mind. But not on demand, or when our income is on the line. Work that feels like play? No way.
We all have self-doubt at one time or another, and sometimes it clouds our confidence and our thinking. Sometimes we need to be nudged, a little hand-hold and pat on the back to get us to the next level. But I knew deep down that this particular level was not on my achievable or successful list, not yet anyway. So I had to just honor myself.
That’s when I realized I’m a player in this big game of life with my own little piece of know-how, my own niche of knowledge and expertise, and that doesn’t make me a fail. I jumped right back in with a renewed quest toward work that feels like play, and now I’m starting to really like this role.
I guess anything’s possible. It just takes recognizing our own uniqueness that makes it all work out.