refocusing (or, how to not go crazy) Part 1

I wrote this post in March 2014 and thought it was getting too off topic, too preachy, and forgot it about it in my Drafts folder while I did all manner of other things. Now that I come back to this blog after another significant absence, thinking I should pick up where I left off, I realize I still have the same problem. So I’m going to post this, as-is, and then post again, many months after this original post, to re-evaluate.

MORE THAN A YEAR AGO–HOW has it been that long?!–I set out with a list of 40 mini goals I wanted to (try and) complete by the end of 2013. I received a few comments from friends that it appeared to be a rather daunting list. But it was just 40 things. Forty “mini-goals” I called them, that I thought would help me a) inject a little balance into my already hectic life, and b) give me a sense of accomplishment in year 30. It was a new beginning, taking on some (I thought) reasonable tasks, rather than try and recreate the wheel. Sensible. Logical. Good for me, right? But then I got busy. The kind of busy that sees one running an annual festival solo. That kind of busy.

As most anyone who knows me–including my family, friends, chiropractor and acupuncturist–will tell you, I have a habit of taking on too much. I say “yes” to all of the amazing things when I should say “I’d like to, but I should probably sleep this week”. As a result, over the past four months I’ve been intermittently determined, elated, inconsolable and panicked, with every color in between. It was in the midst of this that a good friend was kind enough to what I didn’t want to hear: what was I doing it all for? Where’s the lesson?

In September of 2006, I returned to Calgary from Leeds, UK, where I’d been living abroad for a year. Graduate school had been an amazing experience, and exactly what I needed, it turned out. I figured out–somewhere between month one and month five–that the point of going halfway ’round the world for an education wasn’t actually to get the education (that was, no doubt, important to me). It taught me independence, to value the experience, to trust my instincts and my opinions, to rely on God and His will for me, and to forge my own path.

By the time I came home, MA in hand, my world had changed. A year had passed and most of my friends–my closest circle for several years–had moved on without me. Literally, As in, they moved away; and I was rather alone. After a few months of not really knowing what to do with my shy, somewhat introverted self, I started going to things. I started doing stuff. I joined a book club; I went to pub trivia nights; I went places and did things with people I had never met before. All by myself. This sounds pretty normal to most, but it’s a tall order for us shy, bookwormish types. But I did it; and eventually it got easier. Over time, I discovered that, after playing the part of the extrovert for so long, it was second nature. My once empty Friday nights–and Monday nights, and Tuesday nights, and Wednesday nights…–were now full. And it was great.

Last year, when I thought I was on my way to whatever it is young professionals are supposed to have, I learned a few valuable lessons: sometimes where you want to be (or think you want to be) isn’t where you’re supposed to be; that there are times when you have to unlearn what you’ve learned and do what you know is right, even when the world tells you it’s wrong; and that choosing the wrong path is often more valuable than choosing the right one.

Over the past few months–in the midst of my one woman show to do, as @vlrny likes to say, “All of the things”–I’m still learning. Firstly, I’ve learned that no one (not even me) can do all of the things. Secondly, that no one (not even me) should want to do all of the things. And thirdly, that trying–and failing–to do all of the things, even when I enjoyed them, was a built-in way to help me prioritize.

(To be continued…)




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