What is the meaning of life? Such a big question, with millennia of thoughts, words and written texts dedicated to it. I’m not going to pretend that I have the answer, but this morning a thought grew in my mind. That one of the most important things in our lives, if not the most important, must be relationships. Relationships with our friends, family, significant other and/or God. We’re social animals, after all.
If relationships are so important to us humans, why then do we sometimes live as if they’re not a priority for us? Why do we fill our time with work, with volunteering, with projects that make us feel important? Why do we sometimes (or often, depending on your personality) care more about what strangers think of us than how our close ones see us? Why do we tire ourselves out so much with other things, that we become grumpy and impatient with the people around us?
It’s part of our culture, you hear echoed these days. And it’s true. Our society praises long work days, high achievers, and as a consequence neglecting personal health. But I think it’s also born from insecurity. If you feel fulfilled, loved and supported, you feel less need to chase after things that give you external status. You don’t need to validate yourself by doing a lot of things to feel important or needed.
Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that we should stop being ambitious or doing things. Au contraire, as the French would say. I just think we sometimes need to stop and investigate the why behind our actions. Are our actions driven out of love and genuine interest? Or are they rooted in the fear of missing out, not being enough, or not fitting in?
It’s a humbling thing, taking some time to (re)assess your priorities. Because it might have consequences. Prioritising your family, friends or God might mean you don’t have time anymore to work in the evenings or the weekend. And that might mean you miss out on that promotion or opportunity to work at a prestigious university/company. Or it might mean you should stop one of those five evening activities you always fill your week with, to allow some time to just be.
The good news is: you don’t need that achievement to be amazing. You’re already amazing just the way you are. The more time you take to stand still, the more time you take to confront your fears, the more you’ll grow into the person you truly are. The person God intended you to be.