We spend a good amount of time on our search for self worth. Whether it’s struggling to search for the right group to fit into during our crazy high school years, or the world-opening moment we graduate from college, our journey always resurfaces, whether we like it or not.
Growing up in an Asian family, I was taught by my parents that my self worth was found in everything thing I did. Academics, work, chores, church - you name it! I grew up questioning my worth on an almost daily basis. The older I got, the more I became aware of myself as a person, and allowed my personal experiences to shape the person I am today. But because of how I was raised, my struggles with my self worth seep out from time to time.
For most of my adult life, I found my self worth through my work. I spent the majority of my time (around 40 or so hours a week) here, whether it was editing magazine articles or entering the budget for the new school year.
My identity became so engrained into my work that I took any success or failure personally.
How I valued myself was dependent on how I was perceived by others. Welcome to the life of a people pleaser. But just weeks before I turned 27, my husband and I found out we were pregnant. I knew that becoming a mom would drastically change my life in all directions, but I failed to measure how much it would affect my self worth.
Later that year, my husband and I welcomed a healthy baby boy. Within a few months, we decided it was better financially for me to quit my job and become a stay-at-home mom. I found myself struggling to find who I was as a mom in this transition. I was quick to compare myself to other SAHMs, to moms on social media, and even to unrealistic versions of moms I created in my head.
After almost a full year into motherhood, we decided it was best to move closer to family, meaning I would now need to go back to working full-time. The final months of being a stay-at-home mom were closing in, and I knew it would be much harder to transition back to work. But, I stayed positive and hopeful for my family.
My first three weeks entering back into the workforce were the worst. For the first time, I entered into an identity crisis. I had worked so hard to be content as a mom, and suddenly adding a full time job to the mix made this far more difficult. One day at work, I was sitting in the bathroom stall, staring at old pictures of my son, and my heart dropped to my stomach. I missed him so much. Guilt, sadness, and anxiety arose with in me. Thoughts of not feeling worthy emerged, and I allowed them to consume me for the rest of the day.
I started reflecting on the days I was obsessed about my worth and how others would view me. I remembered how much of a mental and physical toll it took on me - sleepless nights, feeling anxious around others, being constantly disappointed at myself, etc. So much of this tension was confronting me again in this new transition. In figuring out who I now was as a working mom. In being caught in the angst of two completely new stages of life combining in an instant. I talked to my husband that night, and it was almost as if I reached another revelation in my life.
Being imperfect is part of the human experience. We are not defined by what we do, but who we are.
I needed to stop comparing myself to others and focus more on the person I wanted to be for my family. Realizing that my worth extends beyond motherhood and my career opened up and released a lot of my inner conflict.
This new season continues to stretch me in many ways, and there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. I’m learning to appreciate the person I am, finding worth in it, and shifting my perspective during the ebb and flow of transition.
Photos by: Eun Creative