There are times when life pushes you to the extremes and you get to test your strength in those moments. Last week was one of those times for me. Work has been insane lately with too many deadlines, too little time, and a lot of stress. Everything is to be done by December 31, 2010 what makes that day feel like the end of the world because I am not sure how I can make it at this point without sacrificing my personal time off, and one thing I have learned with the years is that my personal time is very important and I don't want to sacrifice it no matter what. I need balance in my life and having to work 24/7 would not be my cup of tea anymore. There is an underlying philosophy in my team where people work till midnight, Saturdays, Sundays and sacrifice their time what usually leads to unhealthy patterns. I usually feel like the odd ball who does not fit because I value my health and my time too much and I will not sell my soul for a few bucks. On Wednesday, I found out that my co-worker who started at the same time I did was getting promoted. This was not a surprise for me since I had seen it coming but it surprised me that my boss would call me to the office to let me know. It was like she was trying to make sure that I would not blow up with the news. Luckily, I am one of those employees who is very clear on where she is and has no unrealistic expectations or a sense of entitlement. I knew I was not ready for a promotion and on top of that, I also know what a promotion means. Yes! You guessed it promotion = additional responsibilities and higher expectations to produce. I definitely don't need that at this time so for the first time in my life, I was more than ok with being passed on a promotion. I am usually a very competitive person and I don't like losing so feeling ok with this situation felt awkward to me since in the past, I would have been upset; but like I told my boss "I am very competitive but I also know who I can compete with." I can not compete with a person who has over 10 years experience in the industry because he definitely has more experience than I do. I am also at a time in my life when I feel like I am at the crossroads. There are options out there and I am evaluating them making sure that I don't jump into situations without considering all the consequences since I am not that young anymore. It is not like when I was 23 that I decided to get married and move to a foreign country without considering what I would do for a living, what I would do without my family, without my friends, with little support in a country that is very different from my home town. I did that once and although it turned out ok, it also implied lots of sacrifices and suffering to get to where I am now. I am a stronger person today thanks to that experience but I am also much more careful because I know I need to make decisions rationally if I want to avoid some of the pains that I experienced in the past.
I am also at a time in my life when my priorities are shifting. When I moved to the States, I definitely bought into the American dream - having a big house, a car, an important job that paid well, etc, etc, etc. Today, I feel that material things are second to happiness and health. I can have all the money in the world and be the most miserable person anybody would have ever known. Money does not buy happiness, money does not buy health, money does not buy love. Although I accept money is a part of our lives and it is easier to have enough, I don't think it should be the focus of my life since it would involve sacrifice and unhappiness. I know I could work 24/7 and make more money but would I be happy? I don't think so. Then if I suddenly died, what would be left for me, what would they put in my grave "She was a hard worker who sacrificed her life for a job to make more money." Instead, I would like my grave to read "She was a happy person who was fun to be around and that always shone her light and made other people's lives happier" In the end, it is up to us to decide what we want in our lives; to take ownership and live our lives the way we want to live them and not let anybody define who we are. I want to live my life from the heart and not from the head. The head is usually confused by the messages we receive from the environment about who we should be, what we should have, what we should do to be happy. Our hearts know what our souls want. It is hard to live from the heart but it is not impossible. We have the power to choose. We have the power to change the course if we don't think we are on the right track. We just need to face our fears and not let them dominate us, just choose and move on so when we look back, we know we did it our way and we lived the life we wanted to live and not the one that others expected us to live.