It’s a common problem among people, and it’s an especially common problem among women: in the hustle and bustle of meeting everyone’s needs, how much of me is for me? How much is there for me? How much should be for me? And what does that mean I should be doing when it is about me?
I’m not offering any answers today, just a few questions and some rumination.
Many days, and most of the time, I sincerely and truly enjoy my life very thoroughly. I have a loving, thoughtful, giving (and hot) husband; friends of mutual care and concern; a job that adds meaning to my life; hobbies I enjoy; secure finances; a blog that provides me an outlet for reaching out to others with writing; a generally stable country and city to inhabit; a plethora of good books on my shelves and in my local library; joy and fun in the kitchen; the ability and health and space to exercise; and passion and excitement about the future. Oh, and a new, fabulous 8-gb video iPod that I won in a recipe contest. On the balance, I have a life that few people in the history of the planet have had the good fortune to inhabit. And perhaps I should only focus on those elements and feel at peace.
But I also have complicated family relationships; friends whose lives I desperately wish I could magically fix (or at least be completely present for when they need me) and other friends with whom I simultaneously want to celebrate their good fortune; formerly close friends who now hang, precariously to one or the other of us, in the balance between acquaintance and friend; a job that can frustrate me entirely; a longer commute than I would like; financial concerns and unmet desires; a sense of sometimes overwhelming responsibility about the direction of things in this country and on this planet; a passive-aggressive neighbor who would drive a saint mad; interests for which I have no time; and the tangled ball of my history as a human being to work through. Among other things.
Even with no children thrown into this mix, sometimes it feels like I have little time for me to just be me and figure out me and enjoy being me.
Part of my experience is just the way of Western life right now. You know by now that the typical Western pace doesn’t make us happy, right? Having 35 (or 105) choices of salad dressing in a grocery store generally makes us more frustrated than if we had three. Trying to juggle home and love and work and social and volunteer and spiritual and and and leaves us dizzy and exhausted. Having fairly wide-open life choices—as beautiful an option as it may seem—also complicates our lives and leaves us striving for ever more. After all, if you could do it all, doesn’t that make you want to try? And if it doesn’t make you want to try, don’t you wonder what you’re missing out on? And if you don’t wonder what you’re missing out on, don’t you feel guilty for not being someone who takes more initiative?
Really, truly, actually, it’s not even that I want to do it all. I just want to do a lot of it. I want to do enough of it to know that what I’m doing is what I should be doing, that what I’m doing is a very satisfying version of what I could be doing. The problem is, in being distracted by the idea that something out there might be more satisfying, I miss the joy, connection, and peace of slowing down to take in what I am currently working on, whatever that may be. I know that. And with that knowledge, I’ve let go of some things, particularly relationships with some people who took much out of me with little return. I am thankful for those losses. But I still feel overwhelmed at times, and at those times, I wonder: Should something else go (if so, what?), or should I just be coping with all of this better?