January 20, 2015

Accepting our Limitations Reveals our Strengths.

creative lady

It had been seven months since I last had a steady job—seven months and counting.

Plenty of resume revisions, countless hours spent job searching and a handful of interviews later, I was ready to call it quits. I had reached out for help, connected with leaders on LinkedIn, watched videos on anything from interview skills to brand building, and subscribed to newsletters I felt had helpful advice.

I thought I was doing everything right. And yet, no job. “What am I doing wrong?” I thought.

I have to admit, I hate job searching.

I can’t imagine anyone who loves it. But what I hated more was how not seeing results made me feel incompetent, unskilled and like a failure. It made me question my abilities, my knowledge and ultimately myself. “If others can do it, so can I!” I’d tell myself. And often, I wondered why people use career coaches. “What can they do that I’m not already doing. What do they know that I don’t?” It seemed counterproductive to me, impractical.

Don’t get me wrong; I’ve never been one not to reach out for help. I believe in the power of counseling and therapy, in asking others for their support, in prayer.

But curiously in this one area of job search, I felt I had to go it alone. I had something to prove. And when we’re trying to prove something, which is ego-based, the universe has a way of using it as an opportunity to help us grow.

My dear husband had offered to help several times over those months.

To my ego, his unsolicited advice came as an affirmation of my failure, my inability to find a job on my own. I had so much resistance to his help that it became an issue between us I could no longer overlook. I had blocked him off without fully understanding why. It wasn’t until he said something that really shook me that my resistance finally began to soften.

“By refusing to let me help you, you’re causing both of us to (financially) suffer.”

The very idea of my resistance causing not just myself to suffer but my husband as well was enough to crack it open. Once I let go of my need to prove myself and released my tight grasp, I found what was laying underneath…what always lies underneath our fears—the feeling of somehow not being enough, of being inherently flawed.

In a world that largely judges us based on our external accomplishments, I wanted to have something to show. I wanted to “fit in.” To have an answer when people asked, “what do you do?”

Here is something I know about myself: I don’t fit in. And here’s what I’m slowly learning to embrace—it’s okay.

I’m that square peg trying to fit in a round hole. Except I’m not square, I’m stardust floating high above ground, trying to find a soft place to land and plant roots. I am a daydreamer, a muse fairy, a winged creature trying to fit into human form. I smell the pages of books, collect flowers to dry, write poetry and savor a good quote.

I can spend the whole day at a stationary store, admiring the beautiful things people make. Give me a new journal every year for my birthday for the rest of my life and I’m a happy camper. Leave me for hours at an art gallery and I will not know time passed. Collage party? I’m there!

Can you relate?

That’s when it hit me—my gifts lie elsewhere.

Accepting my husband’s help did not mean I was weak or incompetent. It simply means job-searching is not my area of expertise. Being practical and “business-like” is not my forte. As soon as I accepted that, a spaciousness opened up within me that lovingly invited in my husband’s advice and help. When I began to accept my limitations, the areas that did not come naturally to me, I suddenly began to see my strengths clearer.

It was a powerful lesson in letting go of who I thought I needed to be and embracing who I truly am.

My gifts are more of the ethereal kind…the intuitive, the intangible, the creative. Sensing the imperceptible, holding space for pain, offering healing in the form of kindness. These are no less needed and no less valuable. They, too, have their place in this world.

Can you imagine living in a world without the Dalai Lama, without Gandhi, or Nelson Mandela? What if these divine beings never embraced their unique gifts, or followed their intuition? I’m sure they too acknowledged their limitations and in so doing maximized on their strengths and areas where they could be of greatest service to humanity.

Let’s surrender our resistance. Let’s recognize and own our limitations, not as a sign of defeat, but as a sign of courage. We will be better for it. We will better serve one another. And as Shakespeare says,

“This above all: to thine own self be true.”

What limitations have you not yet embraced? Where do your gifts lie?

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Author: Anokina Shahbaz

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: katiecooperx/Flickr

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