Guys, I’ve been struggling to write this post for two weeks now. I’ve been going over and over what exactly I want to write, and it’s been harder to write than some of my other posts. I want it to sound eloquent, and I want you to think I’m a great writer. And the fact that that’s the case really speaks to the topic itself.
Today I’m talking about pride, something I’ve never in my life thought I struggled with. Truth be told, I usually shrugged off pride as a male problem. Surely, I don’t deal with that. I’m confident, yes, but I am modest and humble.
Or so I thought.
When your outer self and inner self are in competition, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate where your heart is at. I’m full of modesty and humility—on the outside. On the inside, a swelling sense of pride has bubbled up, and I didn’t know it even existed until very recently. In the past month I have noticed just how much pride plays out in my work and my career, and even in my ability to call myself a New Yorker. I’m a prideful person, and I have been too proud to really see that or admit that until now.
You see, for most of my life, I’ve been working toward a career in journalism and magazines. I received a journalism degree from a world-renowned program, I completed multiple internships, and I worked (and worked and worked) so I could land an editorial job at a magazine in New York City. I left my small and comfortable suburban home and moved to the big city. I relished this place for its high energy and for the sheer volume of busy, career-driven people surrounding me every day. I began to climb the ladder. I was the girl who could not only handle New York City but who could thrive here. I had an impressive and glamorous job to show for it. Magazine editor. I really liked the sound of that.
I moved from a print magazine to a digital magazine, where I received a title upgrade and extra responsibility to boot. I worked closely with the editor-in-chief. Much was expected of me, and I grew to love having people rely on me. They demanded a lot of me. As a major force at this small startup, I worked longer hours with more items on my to-do list—and more at stake—than ever before.
In other words: I made it, and I am awesome.
I was living out my long-desired dream to be a magazine editor. I was the girl that I wanted to be, but that confidence was less about who I am as a person and more about my title and my status. I was blind at the time to how much I enjoyed the look of my life. I got a lot of fulfillment from my work. Too much so. That fulfillment meant I was in a good place with trusting the Lord and His plan for my life.
But eventually I got tired. More than tired, actually. I was exhausted. My mom came to visit me during this season, and she told me she had never seen me so worn out. “A 24-year-old just shouldn’t be this stressed,” she said. She was right. I was burned out in my magazine position, and I was incredibly frustrated by the crazy number of layoffs (for even the most seasoned staffers) and restructuring I’d seen in the publishing industry.
So I spent months praying and thinking about what would be next for me. I prayed for a position with regular hours, benefits, vacation time, and more stability. And by the time summer came around, a new opportunity arose in a corporate job where I could do communications work but have a better work/life balance. When I was officially offered the position, I prayed through it and accepted with excitement and hope.
Fast forward four months. I am able to leave the office around 5 or 5:30 p.m. and work stays at work. I have more free time and more time away from work than I’ve ever had before in New York City. Yet I feel bad about it. I feel as though I need to be doing more, working harder, and working longer in order to be fulfilled. In order to be worthy.
I miss the creative freedom and artistic expression I had when working at magazines and websites. I am in a corporate job now, so it makes sense that the transition is something I need to get used to. But, really, this hollowness is more than missing creativity. It's because I miss being in-demand. I miss the hustle and bustle, the busyness, and the stress. I miss being able to tell people I work at X magazine and then watch as their eyes light up with recognition and impressiveness. I miss my title: I’m no longer Maggie the magazine editor, the person I strove to be for a very long time.
Magazines are the reason I came to New York City to begin with. They’re the only job I’ve ever known. And I am good at writing and editing. I understand the magazine world and have experience in it. I never planned to leave it. In the four months since doing so, my pride has reared its ugly head. I lost my self-assurance and my steadfast trust in His plan.
As I was reading Scripture last night, I opened to a passage in 1 Corinthians. I think God knew I was working on this blog post and led me to the words that I needed to be reminded of:
Any lack of fulfillment I feel isn’t because of my work itself but because my identity is still wrapped up in my job and my career. It’s because I’ve been wanting to do big things, to exceed expectations, to fulfill my potential as a writer and editor. For so long, I’ve wanted to bring glory to my name, rather than boast in the Lord.
It’s time to change that.
Pride is a socially acceptable sin. To much of the outside world, it looks like a really good thing, as it can so easily be masked as hard work, self-confidence, or the pursuit of vocation. I’m so grateful that God has revealed a deep, damaging pride hidden within me.
I am also grateful that God has answered my prayers with this new job—giving me work/life balance and time to truly rest and press into Him. He has provided so graciously and abundantly, giving me space to invest in community and this blog. These are gifts I don't take for granted, and they're gifts that may end up worth a lot more than unbounded artistic expression in the workplace.
The Lord has put me in a job where I can no longer derive all my fulfillment. And what a good thing that is! Work cannot be my identity, nor can any possession or relationship. I thought I learned this a long time ago, but as I've seen with this new job, I am far from done with learning. It’s a process. The Lord is stripping away my pride and the delight I take in being impressive. By His grace, He is shifting the source of my worth. He's showing me how lately I have been more excited about Maggie the magazine editor, Maggie the writer, Maggie the journalist, and He's helping me turn my focus to Maggie the child of God. Before I was a writer or an editor or a blogger, the Lord made me His daughter—a title I stand assured in above the rest. Everything else can fall away, but nothing will change my status as His child. And I praise God for that.