Lately I've been feeling caught at the crossroads between striving and contentment. Ever since I was a kid I've felt the pull--the pressure--to do well, do more, do better. If my family had a motto, it was "Always do your best and give it your all." I'm pretty sure it's just in my DNA somewhere. So I brought home A's straight through grad school. I collected degrees, certifications. I pick new things to learn like some people pick out shoes. I try to be good at a lot of things, and I try even harder not to let my identity get entangled in them.
Don't get me started on societal expectations; there's so much pressure to constantly improve yourself--your looks, your contributions, your education, your weight, your budget, your fitness level, your possessions. "Live your best life!" and all that. It's exhausting.
I wonder at what point the striving negates the living.
I wonder if we could really accept ourselves, and our lives as they are. I wonder if we could do things because they make us happy, and not because we're being guilted toward self-improvement and self-fulfillment--as if we're somehow taking our lives for granted if we aren't living them "to the fullest."I wonder if we could be content, and allow others to be content. What would that be like?
I can tell you what it would be like for me. It would be less anxiety about the photography class I'm taking this evening; it wouldn't matter whether I was good at it--because I enjoy taking photos. It would be taking a personal day at work when the weather is perfectly rainy, and curling up at a coffee shop with a novel, because nurturing my soul is valuable, even if it's not "productive." It might even be binge-watching SVU for the hundredth time instead of learning more about behavior analysis. It would be sleeping in without feeling like I've "wasted time" or leaving dirty dishes in the sink and taking a late-night bath. It would be learning to read Old English before learning French, because even though French is more useful and Old English is a dead language, my heart belongs to the land and history of England. It would be a little too much pizza, even though it isn't "healthy," and a little too much whiskey, even though it isn't "responsible."
What would it look like for you? I hope we both find out.
(Outfit// Boots: Madewell // Cardigan: Marshall's // Everything else: F21)