I received an interesting email lately: “Yiye, I really want to have a joyful and fulfilled life. I see people who live like this, for example yourself, emphasise a lot on being a service. I wish that I could feel this way too, but for some reason I just don’t have that desire at the moment. I guess I’m being selfish here…My life is not dull but I feel something big is missing. I have so many different interests but I don’t know how this can help other people. Please help.”
I agree with the reader friend that being a service to others is important. Personally it helped me so much to overcome many fears: namely, “not being good enough”, “you are doing nothing new”, “how can I make this work?” etc…
But to be honest, I wasn’t born like this.
It wasn’t like that one night I thought “hmm, I am going to be a service”, then I woke up the next morning – BAM, I’m a service. Although, that would have been nice.
To share my story (only because I know my own the best), the very initial motivation for me to stop being an employee was nothing to do with a desire to serve or being passionate for anything…
Instead, I saw way too many working mothers being screwed over in the workplace.
For instance, once my ex-colleague N was sent to Southampton for a business meeting. On her way down to Southampton she received a phone call from her son’s school that he was missing. Needless to say how frightening and panicking it was for N, but she was under pressure to make it to the business meeting anyway!
Thank goodness her son was OK. But witnessing her experience had a huge impact on me.
I didn’t trust the “work-life” balance B.S. claim in many companies.
If I have children, I will spend time playing with them as much as possible.
Plus, my health was always fragile while I was working in Finance. I am not the type who can stare at a PC for 15 hours with only a sandwich + a packet of crisps to keep you going.
I was already struggling just looking after myself with the crazy schedule and deadlines.
I couldn’t imagine being a mother in that kind of environment. I couldn’t possibly see myself working like that for the next 40, 30, or even 2 years.
I needed a way out.
It wasn’t that easy to make such a step, “thankfully” I had a horrible boss back then, which pushed me to make this decision. I had to ask his permission to leave work, EVERY-freaking-DAY. I’m not talking about 5 or 6pm, most of the time it was around 8 or 9pm. Even when he was having dinner with clients and I finished my work, I still had to wait for him to return to the office and ask for his permission to leave.
I tried absolutely everything I could: indirect and direct feedback with him; talked with his boss; spoke to HR; nothing worked…
I even joked with him:”So am I allowed to go to the loo now?” He didn’t get it judging by his reply: “Yes for now.” I didn’t know to laugh or cry…
One night I had a big argument with him. As someone whose mind is deeply and hopelessly rooted by hierarchy, he was shocked that I stood up for myself.
And for the first time, I couldn’t be bothered to “clear the air” or “communicate with empathy”.
I left the office regardless while he was shouting at me.
I didn’t want to go back home immediately either.
I had an urge to try a new dance, after learning Latin dance for a couple of years.
So I went to Pineapple dance studios in Covent Garden and took my first ever contemporary dance class.
We had some background music, which I thought I’d never forget. The tune is called “Failure”.
Exactly how I felt at that second: “Once again I am having an abusive manager, who wanted to control me inside and outside of work. Why do I always attract people like this? What’s wrong with me?!”
I felt like a big failure not owning my life, not even able to decide small things like what time I can leave work.
The music started and I let go. I allowed myself to jump up and fall on the floor. I had tears in my eyes, and my knees really hurt. But I felt better immediately, because I gave myself permission to express my true feelings.
I didn’t want to “hold it all together” any more. I didn’t feel like an honour to be a “tough cookie”.
I stopped pretending “everything is OK” when clearly it wasn’t.
So I resigned one week later and took 4 months off before I became a self-employed freelancer.
Yes, the economy was gloomy. Yes, we were under the pressure to save up for our wedding fund and housing deposit.
But my well-being is so much more important.
I did finance freelancing for a year before I started to do what I do now.
However, if I didn’t let myself express the anger, the disappointment, the scare through dancing and loads of time off back then, I’d still hold onto these negative feelings inside.
I wouldn’t have enough inner space to welcome the new energy of “being a service”.
If you are not sure if you want to be a service yet, don’t force it. Chances are some personal bruises need to be healed first and foremost.
It’s all about giving yourself permission to express YOUR OWN TRUTH.
You have permission to be a fabulous service, despite all the self-doubt, and offer the best of you to the world.
You have permission NOT to be a service just yet, fulfilling your personal needs first without feeling ashamed.
You have permission to raise your price so that you feel more energised and rewarded to do your work.
You have permission to have a “gift day”, giving away your goods and services to those who you really love and appreciate.
You have permission to have a fiery start to your new programme, hiring some helpers to take your business to the next level.
You have permission to take a whole week off, veg on your couch and watch some entertaining TV show.
You have permission to say Yes to something grand that you have been secretly wanting to do for as long as you can remember.
You have permission to say No to a request that doesn’t resonate with you, despite the fact that it might come from your boss or an industry leader/”celebrity”…
You have permission to stop arguing with how you feel.
No one other than you can give you this permission.
Going back to the question at the beginning.
If I were you, I’d explore all those interests as you said in your email.
But bottom line: I’m not you, dear reader friend.
What do YOU really want to do right now? Where does your heart direct you to right at this moment?
Respect this urge and desire. Stop fighting it. You never know, by following this urge, what wounds in you can be healed, or what creation it can lead to.
Trust that, when the time is right, your desire to serve, your passion and purpose will all come to visit you.
When this amazing energy comes your way, remember to catch it, ride it and take advantage of it.
I see this happening all the time, my clients, myself, my allies, and even some of my teachers. I have no doubt that it can and will happen to you too.
But before that, do take care of yourself first.
Learn how to give yourself permission & remove your self-doubt in 9 weeks (grab my free meditation & divine dance audio)