Another DBT group session done! Today we were still talking about using the skill of building positive experiences as a way to regulate emotion. Then long term goals were discussed. I have been thinking for the past three weeks about what long term goals I could have. I really haven’t had any. Ever.
One of the girls in the groups said that she needs to decide what she wants to do for her career. That got me thinking. I have no idea what kind of career I would like to have long term. Now, this doesn’t even cover the education I would need, the money for the education, or the pain of obtaining this career. I am completely stuck at the question, “What do you want to do with your life?” At this point in my life, with the big THIRTY on the horizon (I turn 29 on Thursday), I really don’t know what career I would like to have, what I would like to accomplish, or what goals I have.
My therapist then suggested that I think about the goals I had when I was younger. Think about the things I enjoyed in high school. Look back into my past and see what has made me happy, and what I may want to do.
And herein lies the problem with that: My “goals” have always changed. What has made me happy has always changed. You can tell what my goals were, what my priorities and enjoyments were, by who I was spending time with. When I was in middle school, I wanted to be a teacher. I didn’t have many friends in middle school, and my main influence was my mother. For some reason, she got it in her head that I would make a fantastic teacher. She kept telling me that I should be a teacher. She discussed what subjects I could teach. She even went as far as telling me to be careful what union I joined as a teacher. Really? I wasn’t even in high school, yet! Anyway, up until high school, I was SURE that I was going to be a teacher.
Once in high school, I found that I had an affinity for languages. I was loving English, and had the option to take a foreign language. I had one year of Spanish from middle school, so I continued with that. For the next four years, I was completely in love with Spanish. I did well and was praised in Spanish, so that became my favorite class. As my new favorite class, I, of course, became obsessed with it, as I did everything I enjoyed. The first few years, still under my mother’s influence, I thought that I wanted to become a Spanish teacher. As I made more friends in Spanish class, I decided against teaching (since they weren’t very supportive) and that I was going to be an interpreter for the government. That lasted a few months. Everything changed when I started to be involved in my church.
In my junior year of high school, I made a few friends at church. Then I started becoming very involved in my youth group. That led me to thinking about becoming a missionary. Since Spanish was my other obsession at the time, I decided that I wanted to go to Spain or somewhere in South America to be a missionary.
By the end of my senior year in high school, I was really wrapped up in my church. I decided to scratch the Spanish career, and become a missionary in China. Yes, China. My reason for this was because Christians were (and probably still are) heavily persecuted there. I told everyone that my goal was to be persecuted and die for Christ. I was going to attend a Christian college to study the Bible. I didn’t need a real degree for the real world; I just needed more knowledge about God. Of course, that changed six months to a year later when I married my husband and was basically kicked out of the church.
As I adjusted to being a wife, I learned that I LOVED cooking and baking. I’m thinking now that I didn’t love the act so much, as the praise and compliments I received after I was finished cooking. For a while there I wanted to be a chef. Then a pastry chef.
Today I have no family to influence me. I have no friends to push me this way or that into interests. I have no church to feel zealous about.
I feel that my identity has always been determined by who I am around. I don’t know who I am, but I know how to be who you are! Thinking about what I REALLY want to do is a scary thing for me. I don’t know WHO I am, much less what I want. I hate that thinking about these long term goals have made me realize that I don’t have any, and I never did. I never had any goals that were MINE, that is. I had goals that belonged to other people, but I don’t think I’ve done anything for ME.
I am going to take this next week to try and figure out what I want to do with my life. What I want to accomplish. Then maybe I can better learn who I am. I am going to start small, though. I am just going to start by thinking about what I like. Not what I’ve been told to like, but what I truly enjoy doing. Once I figure that out, I am one step closer to determining my life goals.