"Know Your Why:" Woman holding newborn in sling outside, gazing into the distance.

What It Means to ‘Know Your Why’

How Answering ‘Why’ Led Me to Rediscovery

Tick, tick, tick… women of childbearing age know the sound reminding them that time is running out to have a child. As an older mom of an only child, the clock that I hear ticking isn’t biological, it’s mortal. Time is a fickle mistress. And it’s this passage of time that made me reflect on my life and what I’m doing with it.

Enter comedian Michael Jr.. I recently became aware of one of his You Tube videos that posed the question, “Do you know your why?” His message was deep and thoughtful and far from comedic. I don’t know how the video initially came to my attention, but after seeing it once, it really resonated with me.

For some reason, I stopped, listened, and really took it in. His point of knowing the intent behind your actions, was beautifully illustrated by the amazing voice of a man in the audience. Sometimes, you hear something, but if you’re not in the right frame of mind to receive the message, it’s lost. So, to know your why, is to know yourself.

For me, the timing of, “Do you know your why” was ideal. It’s easy to say ‘what’ you are doing, but it can be harder to really get to the meat of the issue. ‘What’ sits on the surface, while ‘why’ is deeper. Think about when you ask a kid ‘why’.

Sometimes you get an actual answer, but oftentimes, the response is, “because.” Which leads to, “Because why?” But, when a child asks the question, ‘why,’ they are working to gain a true understanding. Even as an adult, that question forces an internal audit that can be uncomfortable but is necessary.

What it Means to Know Your Why?

So, I am doing the work and asking myself the tough questions. The answers have taken me on many paths of discovery and realization. On the one hand, I am inherently feeling insecure in my life. Maybe unsettled is a better word for it.

It’s fall and my child just started school. Now, instead of my day being 100% about her, I am alone with myself and my thoughts. Phew! Sometimes the scariest place to be is alone with your own thoughts. Being a mom became my purpose; it’s who I am and what I do. That hasn’t changed. I am still a mom, but is that all?

Before motherhood, it was all about my career. Professionally, I have always been fearless. If there was something I wanted to do, I would pursue it without hesitation. I have also been known to throw myself into the deep-end, sure that I would float, or swim or catch a ride on the next boat going my way.

Naturally, that courageousness faltered in the early months of my daughter’s life. I am a worrier by birth, and it’s just compounded since I first held her in my arms. I had a good job, savings, no debt, but also no sense of contentment or stability.

Everything felt like I was drifting, looking for an anchor that wasn’t there. Then… it wasn’t. My job was outsourced. I really was adrift with this little, tiny baby relying on me. Why did this happen to me? Why now? Wearing my business hat, I knew that it wasn’t personal; it was just business. But still, the mom in me felt betrayed by a fiscal decision that didn’t consider the personal ramifications of the human assets that had been supporting the company for 6 years.

As luck would have it, another opportunity came my way after only a couple of months. We were going to be okay! Unfortunately, this new gig was not what I would call affirming. It was not a good environment. Our team went from empowered to disposable.

But I stuck it out. I commuted for hours every day to keep putting that paycheck in the bank. I would leave before my daughter woke up and come home after she went to sleep. The day would be fraught with drama and tension that just stuck to me like so much ‘ick’. I wanted it to be a good fit, but I knew in my gut that it wasn’t.

So, despite all reason, I looked at that sweet, little face and knew that it was time to bounce. It was time to take another risk and remove myself from that world before it impacted her. And I did. I left and relied on my savings to take care of us while I figured things out.

Purpose Directional Arrow on Small Chalkboard
Cacaroot from Getty Images

Determining My Purpose?

Examining our assumptions is an important, often eye-opening and transformative experience.” (“Why Ask Why? | Psychology Today”) 

Since becoming a mom, being a mom has been my focus. For the first time in a long time, I felt necessary. Physically, stepping away from the corporate grind and mentally, unburdening myself from caring about that world, happened simultaneously. My spirits lifted, my heart felt lighter, I got some sleep! Everything else fell away. All thoughts went to her and her happiness.

It took a couple of years to realize that I lost a bit of my identity. I did very little to care for myself. With the start of the school year, I felt unsure of what to do with myself. I briefly considered going back to the corporate world but decided against it. I’m just not that person anymore. I want more for our lives.

Comfort, happiness, and simplicity, that’s all we need. No longer were the trappings of success that I chased for decades even a blip on the radar. I remember reading somewhere that many successful people work hard to afford all of the ‘things’ but don’t have the time to ever enjoy them. We just needed the basics and I needed to be involved in her life. To raise her myself was a luxury that I wanted to afford.

When you know you’re why, you’re what becomes more impactful because you are walking towards, or in, your purpose.” (“About Knowing Your Why – The Journey You Own (JYO)”) – “Michael Jr.”

I know I’m not the only one out here, feeling a little lost when thinking about life outside of our children/ families. The thought of going back into the world where other adults are is a little intimidating. I grew accustomed to the life I created through my work. It was not only a means of financial support, but it was also a social outlet.

It’s hard to find an environment that ticks all the boxes, so I am going to create one. Still, returning to the workforce as an employee would be the easy, expected path to take. I can’t say that I haven’t thought about it more than once. But again, I am reminded about the kind of mom I want to be and the memories that I want my kid to have. I want her to remember me being there and for her to know that she was, and has always been, a priority in my life.

If you read my article on Advanced Maternal Age, you know that I am in my late forties. With a young child, I really do think about my time in her life and making sure that it is a full and happy one. I hope to be blessed with an abundance of time together, but there are no promises. I am concerned about raising a confident woman, one who is courageous and fearless in her pursuit of life. But I also know that for me to foster those traits in her, I need to emulate them for her.

I need to be an example to her of what a woman can be and contribute to the world. For me to cower behind the mantle of motherhood and refuse to embrace opportunities and face my own fears, I would be doing her a disservice. It’s time to pull up my big girl panties and get out there.

There are several ways that women can either regain their identities or even create a new sense of self outside of their children. In reading through “How to Rediscover your Sense of Self in Motherhood,” a few things were outlined that I am working on: take care of yourself, do something you enjoy and set simple goals.

Wooden table with eyeglasses and checklist in notebook
Studiophoto by Getty Images Pro on Canva

First Steps to Rediscovering Myself

The steps to rediscovery don’t have to be drastic or complicated. It’s about taking one step toward yourself to bring about a sense of peace and accomplishment. I started with self-care. Easy, right? For some people, a little self-care can go a long way to making you feel great.

When was the last time that you painted your toenails? Personally, I love a little splash of color on my toes. But for some reason, even though they’re right there, they are just too far away for me to manage sometimes. Something else that’s become a luxury for me, is the ability to take a long, hot, uninterrupted shower. Most of the time, my shower is rushed and just utilitarian.

On the rare occasion that I can spend a little longer in there, I pull out the fancy body wash, turn the water as hot as I can stand it and just bask in the steam and lather. If I really want to indulge, I turn on a podcast or listen to some music. The music can help to drown out the noise coming from the other side of the door demanding to be let in.

After self-care, I tackle the next two suggestions; do something you enjoy and set simple goals. In continuing that internal audit, I took a basic inventory of needs, skills, and desires. In the words of Marc Anthony, “do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” When passion and intention meet, success cannot be far.

I return to the same thought that I’ve dismissed more than once…writing. I always enjoyed writing, and despite my job title being otherwise, managed to create writing positions for myself when working outside of the home. As I have no interest in returning to the workforce in the same capacity, it’s time to put my talents to work from home.

Reflection of confident woman in mirror
Photo by: DAPA Images on Canva

Reclaiming My Identity

Being a Work at Home Mom (WAHM) is not new to me. I spent a little time doing it when she was an infant and prior to that, I was a teleworker for years. While she is in school for a few hours a day now, I am dedicating the time to putting my skills to use. I am starting with marketing for a small local business and creating this blog. This is a simple solution that allows me to express myself and share my world with other women.

Like many of you, when I became a mom my world shrunk, leaving me on an island with my kid and my thoughts. I often forget that I am now a part of a tribe of women. If nothing else, I am a thinker and a hopeless dreamer. My hope is to create a community for engagement and connection.

What started out as a way to face mortality with a sense of courage, purpose, and connection to my child, led me back to doing something I enjoy. I hope it will help to serve other people in their personal journeys. My path to happiness isn’t likely to take the same direction as that of anyone else and that’s fine. So, what is my why? That’s simple. Her. I want time with her. When making your next move, ask yourself, “Do you know your why?” Once you can answer that, then you are well on your way to finding the answers that will serve your purpose.

Are you in the process of rediscovery? What are your goals? Let me know in the comments!

Disclaimer: If you have long-lasting or worsening feelings of depression, please seek help from a mental health professional. Do it for you, do it for your family.

12 thoughts on “What It Means to ‘Know Your Why’”

  1. Not a mom but definitely in the process of self discovery especially with the pandemic raging for the last two years. I’ve felt like I’ve lost a little bit of myself in the process, who I really am. I decided this year to pick up some of the things I’ve left off and do what really makes me happy.

    1. Hi Rachel,
      It’s nice to hear from you. You definitely do not have to be a mom to feel like you lost a bit of yourself. If we gained anything positive from the pandemic, it’s the desire to want more from our lives. People not only want a sense of normalcy, they also want to get back their own identities. I am still in the process myself. I am working to gain my confidence back. Little by little, I am doing that by putting myself out there. It’s scary, but I feel good about it. If I can do anything to help you along your journey, let me know. This is a place for moms, but moreover a place for women as well.

      Best,
      Cassie

  2. This was a really enjoyable read, and I loved reading how your daughter changed you, and that she’s given you fulfilment. For 7 years it was just my husband and I, and we’d go out, travel, order takeaways, and not be too concerned about money. Then our little girl came along, and everything has changed. I went from, ‘I’m definitely going back to work when she’s older,’ to never wanting to leave her side and becoming a stay at home mum. A year before the pandemic, I landed my dream job as a travel agent, but was stood down in 2020. At first, I didn’t know what to do with myself, as I’d now switched to full-time Mum again, but know I’ve started my travel blog, written for a couple of online magazines, and it’s the most fulfilled I’ve ever been in my life 🙂

    Lindsay | http://thetravelvine.blog

    1. It’s amazing how life can give you the things you need despite you making plans for something else. Aside from being home with your daughter, the best part about what happened for you is that you found a new outlet for your travel passion and it’s more fulfilling than the job was. With this transition, you get to be the captain of your own ship, which is so great for your daughter to see. I hope to achieve the success you have soon as well.

      ~Cassie

    1. Thank you, Fransic, I sure try to be a good mom. Some days are definitely harder than others. It helps to know what I’m working toward. It’s definitely not about being on the same path, it’s about finding your own and keeping that at the front of your mind so that you can achieve your goals.

      Thanks for reading,
      Cassie

  3. I completely empathize with this post! I am a first-time mom to a beautiful 3 month old girl. It’s easy to morph our identities to solely “mother,” and with that we also lose a sense of self. Yes, we are mothers and pride ourselves on that title. We love our children and don’t mind putting all of their needs first. But we are just not the title of mother. We are our own person and it’s important to nurture that in order to be the best versions of ourselves. I am so glad you are on the path of self discovery and now have some time to reflect!

    1. Hi Angie,
      You are at the beginning of this amazing journey. I miss my daughter being that young. So much fun. It’s hard not to lose ourselves in those sweet faces. I have a whole post on that very topic. It’s not something you even notice happening because it feels so natural. It’s good that you recognize that it’s a possibility so you can avoid it. Enjoy this time with your daughter. The next steps are just as amazing… and busy!

      ~Cassie

  4. I absolutely loved reading this post.

    I can relate to so much of it and I am in a position at the moment where I need to decide on a job, and hours I would be willing to work, because I also want to be there for my little one. And because working full time essentially caused me to have a mental breakdown.

    It’s so difficult for mums, but we are amazing and we should all, collectively remember that!

    1. Oh, I know I don’t need to be the one to say it, but please keep your mental well-being at the top of the list when making your decisions. I could absolutely feel the toxins seep into my veins before I left the corporate sphere. In that environment, not only was that expected, it was encouraged. To be successful where I was would require divorcing myself from who I am. I should have never been open to it at all, but it certainly didn’t affect me as much as it did after becoming a mom. I wish so much for you as you figure out what’s next. You’ll end up where you need to be, for you and your little one.

      ~Cassie

  5. I never got the chance to become a Mum and it’s something I would have loved — many things have happened over the years that have derailed what I thought my life would be like as I got older so I’m once again figuring out my ‘why’. This was a really interesting and encouraging read — something I definitely needed to read. Thank you!

    1. Hi Molly,

      Life sure has a way of shifting us from what we think our lives will entail. What excites you or even distracts you in life? That thing could be your answer. I crave independence and freedom of choice. I think that inviting those things into my life will open it up. I’m sure that once you zero in on where your passion and skills cross, opportunity to act on it isn’t far behind. I wish you well in your journey.

      ~Cassie

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