Doing more only to do less – do we glorify busy?

I haven’t had the chance to write about this exact topic, but I know I have touched on it. And I certainly know I have had this conversation with many people in my life. Some of you know I spent 2 years in NYC before abruptly moving “home” to figure everything out. I empathize with this post as that person on the traffic island was me on more than one occasion. I do love NYC, but at that time, I was tail spinning into a meaningless oblivion laced with constant panic, trying to be perfect at everything and felt that I was personally accomplishing nothing. While inside, and physically, I was miserable, I also was grateful for the flashing neon sign in my face saying “Get out and get with it” because this wasn’t just two years in the Big Apple building up, it was my whole darn life. I have gone after what I’ve wanted but never to the same extent. I was an anxiety ridden perfectionist probably out of the womb. I thought I could control everything by accomplishing everything and pleasing everyone in the process…well that just sounds gosh darn silly doesn’t it? Anyways, my blessing in disguise was having the chance to come to Norway. It’s not everyone’s favorite place to be relocated as I have heard many times. However, for me, it was my saving grace, a clean slate with a new mentality. If I had stayed at home, I would have just beaten myself up over failing and not knowing what I wanted to do with myself. When I finally got over the guilt of even wanting to pursue opportunities abroad (I was convinced everyone thought it was frivolous and a cop out), the walls slowly started to come down. Everything here was just slower. I didn’t have a job right away, but rather quickly started picking up the odd thing. I got to start dancing again which I had barely done for an entire year. One of the things I was most passionate, not doing it for a whole year…seriously?! ( If you are not doing something you love at least a little bit everyday, you need to re-evaluate.) Suddenly, I was rehearsing for performances, teaching, pet-sitting (I love animals), traveling, and making space. There was calm. I was working a lot less for a lot more financially and personally. Maybe not crazy more, but enough. Eventually, I did take on significantly more hours, but I was able to say no to the things I liked less or with limited reward and say yes to the things that fueled me. As my days in Norway wind down, I am grateful to see and say I have been mellowed out. I have messes, my hair is not falling out because my closet is not color coded. I love to dance again, rather than just standing there hating myself. I know that sometimes you can just peace out of whatever to-do list you have planned to go meet up with friends, or more importantly drop everything because it is sunny out 😉
I am a little uneasy about returning to graduate school in the states this fall not because I don’t want to study the material…I am worried I can not stay this person in a rigorous course back in the world that says ‘do everything or fail, because someone else will do it and you will be replaced.’ I am worried that the re-invented me cannot withstand the 23+ years that came before this person. That I will too easily slip back into old habits. Those thoughts in themselves are that old conscience creeping back in though. So I have to remember to acknowledge and let it go. To be cliche, I guess the saying “Keep Calm and Carry On” is a little more appropriate here than I gave it credit for. And thank you Hannah for sharing this post from Campari and Sofa.

Campari and Sofa

Stop the glorification of busy.My friend Gavin was telling me about a conversation he had with some Dutch colleagues. Gavin, and his compadre Georgina, find that the sheer volume of work they are confronted with on a weekly basis is just un-doable within the confines of a normal 8-hour work day. So they regularly put in 10-hour days at the office. And another couple of hours at home picking up emails. This causes all sorts of problems: they’re tired all the time, their spouses feel ignored, they don’t want to go out at night or over the weekend and they lose touch with friends.

Hmmfff…”, said their pals, “In Holland, if you were to work like that we would think you were not coping.”

“Am I”, he wondered, “not coping? Or am I doing more than I should? And if I am doing more than I should –  what should I stop doing? And…

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