Finding Myself Outside of Work
Wednesday, May 1
Some of you may have noticed that I had unplugged from social media as of July 2017. I am happy to say that I am cautiously excited to get back into wedding planning with a social media presence again.
But I must say, it’s been a bit of a journey getting here.
I thought I would share some of the life lessons that I learned along the way; perhaps they may even help others.
I started Sharon Webb Events six years ago from a place of passion, visions, and dreams. Although it started off as a happy place, it became an unhappy place. Amazing how that can happen, right!? If I had to guess, I’m not alone.
I fell into some traps. I was determined to do it all and be it all. The chase for success, trying to be everything to everyone, combined with a personal life that demanded more of my time, it was only setting me up for burnout. I poured myself into every wedding and event while planning the next. I was doing all of this while still working a full-time job on the side.
I became undone in the summer of 2017. I wasn’t sure if I should share this part, but I feel inclined to because it’s part of my journey. We all can fall victim to something like this, and it’s important that if it does happen, you know you’re not alone.
It started with a former client being determined to taint my name all over social media with false accusations. Being a people-pleaser and one who wears her heart on her sleeve, this was devastating to me. Ultimately, I had no control over what she was putting out there. In great despair, I became angry at myself for allowing this to unravel me. Now looking back I can be thankful for this moment because it expedited me to the place I am today.
My human nature wanted to go and defend my name, but I knew I had to trust God with this one. And I am glad I did. Interestingly, without me knowing it, people came forward in my defence, some I didn’t even know.
God is so good when we give Him room to shine!!
My prayers were that God would protect me, give me strength, and bring me a fresh perspective through all of this. I told Him that if I was going to be torn apart and brought to tears over anything, it was going to be over something that breaks His heart, not over something as insignificant as this. So that week I decided it was time to re-evaluate my identity and value.
It was time to take a much needed personal break, which led me to a social media unplug. I battled whether or not I was going to continue SWE or put it to rest.
I decided to start of with just slowing down with SWE and only take on weddings and events that would allow me to maintain a healthy restful balance. I would handle inquiries as they came in, but I wasn’t going out looking for them. At first I was afraid of letting go. What if I unplug and everything I worked hard for disappears?
It’s hard letting go when we are convinced by social media that when we are out of sight, we are out of mind, and dare I add – insignificant. It’s a lie.
This fear was all the more reason I knew God was asking me to surrender SWE.
The act of surrendering was not unfamiliar to me. I have been on a personal journey to surrendering for quite some time, beginning with the struggle of infertility. Recently I started Freely Surrendered as a way to share my story and encourage others to begin their own personal journey of surrendering. When God was asking me to surrender SWE, I knew that I just needed to trust Him.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11
Life is just easier when we trust Him. He knows what’s around the corner; knowing what we need in this moment to set us up for the next.
That following Fall of 2017 a family member, who is like a sister to me, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Then in the Spring of 2018, my mother was also diagnosed with breast cancer. In between all of this, there were so many other personal things that were demanding my time and attention, it just caused me to spiral. I was faced with anger and depression – causing me to be an emotional mess. Yet, I still had to keep it together.
I can’t imagine what life would have been like had I been in the midst of a full wedding season. Had I not listened to God, and had taken on more weddings and events, I would have spread myself thin even further.
In this season I had so much doubt whether I was making the right decision to let go, but now in the big picture, I am so glad I did. It was a reminder that in the moments I feel things aren’t going the way I planned, God is still working it all out for good. I just need to trust Him.
A NEW PERSPECTIVE
For so long I have been searching for a place to attach my self-worth and identity. Having had a difficult childhood, faced with infertility, and depression in my adult years, I just longed for something I could be proud of. But in the searching, I lost myself.
There may be times God requires us to slow down, and when we don’t listen, He might slow them down for us. This was my experience. Except I didn’t just slow down, I broke down. I was in a long dark season where all I could do was look around me and see all the broken pieces; wondering how on earth will something good come out of this.
Being forced to re-evaluate my life and values, I found a new perspective.
Society has us place too much value in the wrong places; this got the best of me. Always being asked, “What do you do?” and “Do You Have Kids?” made it difficult for me to see my self-worth. I felt that at my age I should have been further along in my career and have accomplished something I could be proud of. I began seeing myself as a failure. All of this because of these two questions. I was tying my self-worth to a title. Since I couldn’t have the title ‘mom’, I found myself chasing after a title of success.
I’m going to digress here and just ask if we can please begin asking different questions when we meet people!? Here are a few to help you get started:
- What is your passion?
- What breaks your heart?
- What is on your bucket list?
- What do you want people to say about you when you’re gone?
Deep questions, I know. But don’t we want to go deeper in our connections with people? Or do we really just want to keep our conversations superficial and acquire an Instagram worthy life?
My friends….we are all more than the sum of what we do!
I may plan weddings and events, but it most definitely is NOT where I need to find my identity or self-worth. It is NOT who I am.
TRUTH AND LIES
I discovered that there were quite a few lies that I started to believe as my truth. Lies that society has us wanting to believe and to make decisions around. Do we really need to society and others to determine our self-worth?
How many of the following lies have you been believing?
- I need to be everything to everyone. LIE
- I should accept every opportunity that comes my way. LIE
- I need to be busy all the time. LIE
- I need to be fully booked in order to be successful. LIE
- I have to be on social media and check messages at all times. LIE
- If I’m successful, I will have value. LIE
The secret to happiness? You do you!
You don’t need be like others. There is no room for comparison, because you were made to be different.
You don’t need to be everything to everyone. That is an impossible feat.
You don’t have to say ‘yes’ to everything. In doing so, you may say ‘yes’ to something that wasn’t meant to be yours.
You don’t need to be busy all the time. The secret to life…less is more! Less busy, more living. We can get caught up in this trap of appearance and looking busy. This is why I dislike the questions people tend to ask: What are you busy with these days? How many weddings do you have this year? Do you have a busy wedding season?
You don’t need to be fully booked to be successful. Who defines success anyways? I will never lay on my death bed wishing that I had worked more. But I will always be thankful for the memories made with family and friends, and the people I helped. I’m not saying that there is no value in working – we all need money for our basic necessities. But when can you say you have made enough? There will always be the push to make more money. It is up to you decide when enough is enough.
Your life is bigger than what you do for a living. Your life doesn’t have to be all about what you do. It’s okay to unplug. In fact, I highly recommend everyone unplug every now and then. I get that society is all about the ‘right now’, but your messages can wait. For those that can’t appreciate the hours you work, perhaps they aren’t your ideal client.
What you do should not be who you are. You are not the sum of what you’ve accomplished. You are worth WAY more than that!
A NEW PASSION
After a renewed mind and fresh perspective, I began finding a new passion for weddings again. Except, with a few tweaks. I decided that if I was going to continue SWE, I needed to stay true to myself.
I have accepted my personal life must come first. Given my personal life and circumstances, it requires more of my time and must remain a priority. SWE will need to come in second. I know this is opposite of what society would have me say, but I’m okay to being different.
I was led to believe that if I don’t work at it full-time I should not be doing it; I won’t be taken seriously, and won’t be respected in my field of work. I disagree. I believe I can still offer a professional and exceptional service for the clients I take on. If I don’t look ‘busy’ enough for someone, then they most likely are not my ideal client.
I need to leave margin in my life. I have accepted that I was given a gift to plan and organize. SWE is one area I will use this gift, but I am also called to use it in multiple ways. This requires me to leave room so that I can serve. Life is bigger than me, and I must live as though I believe that.
I am a minimalist at heart, and have had a growing passion to incorporate this into weddings.
Our society has gotten distracted with beauty – focused on the image of the wedding, rather than the reason for the wedding. This distraction can cause financial and relationship strain, which isn’t a good start to a thriving marriage. This led me to a passion for weddings with a ‘less is more’ approach. I guess you can call it a minimalist approach. That’s right, I just added minimalism to weddings! I’m so excited!!
My vision is to bring weddings and minimalism together. I believe that couples can get married without all the extra fluff, expenses and stress, while still having a beautiful wedding. Using a minimalist approach provides couples financial freedom and the ability to focus on what really matters – the marriage.
There are many creative ways to do this, and that is the fun part! Stay tuned for some exciting new packages to reflect this new passion of mine.
MY HOPE FOR YOU
I know you’ve just read a whole lot of words; thank you so much for taking the time to read this post. Whatever your journey, my hope is that you are able to free yourself from any unhealthy expectations – whether they are placed on by you or society.
My hope is that you find your self-worth and identity in something greater than the busyness of ‘work’. You are worth more than your image on Instagram or any title; don’t look to others to determine your value. If you find yourself scrolling through Instagram feeling you don’t measure up, perhaps it’s time for an unplug.
If you are hanging onto an expectation with a tight grip, perhaps it’s time to start your own personal journey of surrendering; trusting it all to something bigger than you. Your clenched fist containing your hopes and dreams could be keeping you from experiencing something greater. Opening your hands doesn’t mean that you will lose everything, it just allows for more to come in.
For each day you are given breath, may you treat it as if it were your last.