What You Do Matters

Author’s Note: This piece was written in 2015, and I have left it in the tense it was written in at that time of my life. Enjoy!

What You Do Matters:

A few months ago, the idea of taking two months ‘off’ before getting married, to plan the wedding and “pursue joy” after the hard work of graduate school and my internship, sounded awesome.

But now, as I find myself one-month into that time, I realized it isn’t as ‘easy’ or ‘fun’ as I expected it to be. Complaining about being on vacation may sound ungrateful, but I know I am not alone in this experience. There are many people who aren’t working traditional 9-5 jobs, or who find themselves with spare time on their hands for whatever reason, and can probably relate to what I am saying: free time can feel overwhelming, and, at its worst, purposeless. Using it well requires discipline and courage. Yes, courage. And, for me, it requires faith—the faith of believing that what I am doing matters.

Since moving to my new town last month, I’ve been doing yoga, swimming, running, hiking, and biking. I’ve been writing a little bit (and battling a case of writer’s block) and reading a little too. I’ve been planning a wedding, sometimes in sprints, sometimes in small steps. I’ve been spending time and energy in my faith-life, and trying to practice mindfulness daily. And, sometimes, it doesn’t feel like I’m accomplishing anything.

The challenge, and the heart of it for me, is believing that what I do has value. That every little bit of mindfulness adds up to greater well-being, that each prayer brings me closer to God, and that each run, though painful, will get me in better shape.  Tying this all together is having the courage to believe that that I am not alone, but that there is a Higher Power watching over me, witnessing my life and providing avenues for me to grow and share my gifts.

I am also very thankful to have an incredible fiancée to check in with at the end of every day, for encouragement, accountability, and quality time/fun.  Spending time with him gives me the opportunity to invest in his life too, through listening to him talk about his day, doing acts of service, making him laugh, etc. These evening-times are a big highlight of each day for me. But, in the middle of the day, I’m still on my own, trying to make sense of all my free time, and striving to find motivation to use it well.

To round out the conversation, I must also add that even if you are working currently, we all have to battle with questions like “Does what I’m doing matter? Am I making a positive difference in the world?”

Ultimately, it comes down to having faith in ourselves, believing in the work we are doing, and making sure we are looking for ways to serve others. Whether it is serving in a job, pursuing a passion, volunteering in the community, or raising up the next generation; we all have to find the inner drive to give the work our best effort and then to trust that that is meaningful, and that it all adds up.

I also have had to realize that my joy matters. Doing what you love can bring you joy, and joy makes the world a more beautiful place.  I realized I can give back to the world through smiles, gratitude, simple acts of kindness.

Value in life lies not just in doing, but in being. We have to find meaning in love, in fun, and in friendship—as well as in working and accomplishing tasks. And for me, in the next month of my life leading up to the start of my marriage—to invest my time, energy, and heart in the ways that I feel called—through writing, self-care, planning out the details of one special day, and preparing my heart for a lifetime of marriage to someone I love.

Lastly, it is a process. Some days feel more purposeful than others, no matter what you are working at. Some discouragement is normal and is part of life. My goal is to not let discouragement paralyze me, but to move through it. After all, it’s a journey.