We’re friends, right? I’m assuming that’s why you’re here.
Because if we were friends catching up on a Wednesday afternoon, then I’d tell you I had an epiphany this weekend. I’d tell you (but most likely you’d already know) that I’ve been super hard on myself over the last few months feeling like a failure at LIFE, WORK, “MOMMYING,” “WIFING,” “WOMANING,” “FRIENDING,” “ACTIVIST-ING,” PODCASTING, “HUMANING.” These are the exact terms I would use and you would “get” me because we have a shared language, like all close friends do.
I’d tell you (but most likely you’d already know) that I still can’t put my finger on exactly when it happened, but sometime in Spring my capacity for “getting shit done” decreased dramatically. THE HUSTLE CAME TO A SCREECHING HALT. It was several seemingly minor things that slowed me like: sicknesses and school conferences, traveling, meetings, kiddie concerts and dance recitals, business and family functions, technical glitches, social events, celebrations, and some grief.
And I’d tell you (but most likely you’d already know) that a month or so into this incredibly draining season I threw in the towel. I stopped fighting SLOW. I stopped trying to be all the things to all the people and simplified my responsibilities. I limited “extrovert” time, cancelled appointments, stepped back from social media. I didn’t plant my garden and I said “NO” (often). I stopped texting and emailing with the same regularity. I’ve needed more space and time to myself and I’ve settled on doing the best I can with the energy/time/resources that I have instead of striving to be the BEST everything.
What you might not know is that until recently, along with the many changes I made, came a TON OF GUILT and SELF-CRITICISM.
But, now I feel good. I feel relief.
Because over the weekend I spent some time in nature getting curious. WHY WAS I FEELING SO ASHAMED OF SLOWING DOWN? WHY DID I FEEL WRONG FOR BEING WORN OUT? WHAT DID I EXPECT OF MYSELF? And the answers started flowing. I won’t bore you with them. But, in short, I realized that I’ve internalized many of the cultural expectations and industry standards for being a woman a mother and a business owner in our world. My inner critic (that voice in my head that is loving and protective in all the wrong ways) was telling me that to be “GOOD” or “RIGHT” in any of my many roles meant being always productive, always available, and always “ON.” And while it’s never sustainable – that is the message we’re sent, isn’t it? That as women we can HAVE IT ALL and so we should do it all – and DO IT ALL PERFECTLY – the dishes, the strategy meeting, the car pool, our daughter’s fishtail braids, the vacation packing, the grant proposal, the master’s degree, and our eyebrows too!
This reflection time gave me the opportunity to see my worldview and respond. So, I asked myself another question (or five):
WHAT IF I LET MYSELF OFF THE HOOK?
WHAT IF I REBELLED AGAINST THE IDEA OF HAVING TO GO HARD AND HUSTLE?
WHAT DID I STAND TO LOSE FROM SLOWING DOWN AND GIVING MYSELF MORE SPACE AND TIME?
WHAT WAS I CURRENTLY LOSING BY FEELING AS THOUGH I HAD TO PERFORM, PERFECT and PRODUCE CONSTANTLY?
AND WHAT WAY OF BEING FEELS TRUEST TO ME – RIGHT NOW?
I’ll spare you all of the answers – except that last one.
Right now, what feels truest to me is taking my cues from nature. I’m observing how the tide goes in and out, how the moon has her phases, how the seasons noticeably shift, how flowers bloom and wither, how life herself is cyclical. And I’m choosing to model my own being after these things. Instead of self-imposed adherence to our overworked and overstimulated culture I’m finding ways to create ease and margin (that’s my new favorite word) for myself and I’m encouraging the ones I love to do the same (that’s YOU).
I know that rest and slowing down are luxuries not readily available to everyone. (We have bills to pay and mouths to feed, right?) I know it’s complicated to balance our soul’s desires with society’s demands. But, I also know that if we are feeling stuck, ashamed and exhausted then it’s worth re-examining our priorities and making changes that HONOR US more and OBLIGATE US less.
Because HUSTLE is only a season. It’s a wave. A phase.
AND REST follows after. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
**(PSA: When we don’t choose rest willingly, it takes its place by force.)**
SO REST IN PEACE MY LOVE!