In August of 2017 I brought my first little human into the world and left my job at an ad agency to pursue my lifelong dream of raising a family. I spent my days cleaning, playing, and teaching, and my nights gushing over the adorable pictures and videos I'd taken throughout the day and reading up on every developmental milestone, parenting hack, and how-to the internet could possibly muster. Then I started to notice myself slipping away. I loved my son so much that it was easy to pour every ounce of energy and spare second into him, but I owed it to my family and myself to regain a sense of individuality and identity that had once been an integral part of my life, and I knew exactly where to start.
During my stint in ad agency life my team and I spent time brainstorming the best ways to build brands from the ground up. We'd often rely on the construction of a vision board to keep us focussed on what we wanted a brand to feel like, look like, and sound like. These vision boards became crucial reference points as we moved along the process in making sure each decision was aligned with our end goal. So I kicked off my hunt to regain my sense of identity by creating a vision board of my own.
I started by creating some overarching categories to act as a guide for filling out my board, like intellectual, physical, spiritual, professional, and social areas of development. Then, under each category, I listed off some of my existing hobbies and interests like politics, sports, and my religion. I was dusting off and recommitting to engageing these parts of me that had been dormant for what felt like an eternity, and it was liberating.
I loved looking back at the many parts of me that once existed, but I wanted to direct my focus to the future. I've always wanted to learn to fix cars, take up woodworking, and speak a second language, so onto the list they went. My blood starts pumping when I think about learning to kickbox, and I want to focus more time on developing professionally, so those two made the cut. As the wheels of who I wanted to become outside of motherhood started turning, so did my confidence that I could accomplish even more in and outside of the home.
The next step was to transform all of these thoughts and ideas into an eye catching and inspiring vision board. I found pictures to symbolize each list item, printed them off, cut them out, and modgepodged them to a foam board that now sits on the desk in the corner of my room. It's not the most professional piece of art I've ever taken in, but few artistic expressions have struck me to my core quite like my vision board.
Each time I catch a glimpse of my board, it breathes life into what can feel like mundane days and weeks, and reminds me that my hopes and dreams for personal development and my dedication to motherhood don't have to be mutually exclusive. I can be an engaged and devoted mother who woodworks, kickboxes, and speaks Arabic. If every spare second I have doesn't go to my kids' needs, I haven't failed. I've shown my kids what it means to develop and accomplish. I've shown them that investing time in themselves isn't selfish, it's necessary, even when they become parents.