Last week’s ER episode had a great message for passionate, driven women (yes, I am still watching ER).
Neela, the brilliant British-Indian woman who is finishing her surgical rotation, seemed distracted and close to tears all day.
At the end of the day in the break room, she has a melt down, saying “I can’t do this anymore.” She may seem like she is holding it together on the outside, but inside, she’s a mess (sound familiar?). She finally reveals that it is her 31st birthday and all she has to look forward to at home is watching Project Runway.
Lucian, her supervisor, takes her by the hand and leads her down the hall to the recovery rooms. He shows her a woman talking to her children, a woman who’s heart Neela repaired that day in a difficult and complex surgery. He then turns her around to see a man lying in bed, holding a young girl’s hand. Lucian reminds Neela that this man would not be able to share one more day with his granddaughter if it weren’t for the surgery Neela performed.
Lucian tells her, “You were given amazing gifts and you chose to use them. You weren’t meant to lead an ordinary life. So comparing your life to the lives led by ordinary people is a useless and draining exercise. You will only feel sad and angry for what you are missing instead of living in the grace of what you have.”
(I know these weren’t the exact words, but the intent is the same)
This is the burden of greatness. If you are reading this blog, it is likely that you have great gifts of intelligence, resourcefulness, courage and determination. Plus you have specialized knowledge and a well of wisdom deeper than most. Whatever you are doing now is either your calling or a step toward your life’s purpose where you are using your gifts to make a difference in some way.
There will be days you wonder if it is all worth it. You work so hard. Your social life is pitiful. If you have children, you feel guilty for not spending more time with them. You hunger for a day of rest and long for a chance to pamper your body.
Life balance? The best you can do is balance your emotions as you go about your busy day. You can still love your friends, your partner, and your children, but know there will always be an internal struggle about how you will show your love.
In those moments where it feels unbearable, I want for you is to remember Lucian’s words: “You were given amazing gifts and you chose to use them. You weren’t meant to lead an ordinary life. So comparing your life to the lives led by ordinary people is a useless and draining exercise. You will only feel sad and angry for what you are missing instead of living in the grace of what you have.”
Your gifts and your journey can feel like a burden. They are also the making of miracles. Will you give up along the way?