More often than late, my worries have been getting the best of me: worries about displeasing people around me, saying something weird or offensive, or (gasp!) making a mistake. Sometimes I put too much energy into things that, in the end, I really can't control. I am going to make mistakes. (That's how I learn.) I am going to say weird and possibly, without meaning to, offensive things, because we all have feelings and different opinions. (I'm human.) I am not going to be able to make other people happy all of the time. (In reality, I'm the last person to feel happy when I'm in a people-pleasing mode.)
Even things like the presidential race, or the way women are treated in other countries, or, hell, the way they're treated in our own country, make me feel beside myself at times. I get so angry! I don't mean that we shouldn't be passionate, that we shouldn't be careful of other people's feelings, or that we shouldn't try to make people we love happy. What I'm really getting at is the energy that I'm investing in all the above, and in everyday activities, whether it's frustrations with my commute, or with the world at large when I read the news, or, you know, the really tough stuff like navigating Whole Foods during rush hour. I am going to try and be really aware of where I am investing my energy. Is seeing this friend or reading this article or going to this event going to make me feel fulfilled or happy? If yes, then I will put my energy into it. Because life is too short to go around trying too hard, and then feeling all the feels when things don't work out. (Hello, emotional roller coaster that is life!)
Also, there's the energy that I'm putting into my career, and all the pressure I feel to do and be all the things (isn't that just life, and also life as a woman?!). There's a chapter in Amy Poehler's book, Yes Please, called "Treat Your Career like a Bad Boyfriend." She says, "Your career won't take care of you. It won't call you back or introduce you to its parents... Your creativity is not a bad boyfriend. Creativity is connected to your passion, that light inside that drives you... Career is stringing together opportunities and jobs. Add in a dash of future panic and a whole lot of financial uncertainty... Ambivalence is key. [Your career] likes it when you don't depend on it. It will reward you every time you don't act needy. It will chase you if you act like other things (passion, friendship, family, longevity) are more important to you." This was one of my favorite parts of the book (and I really loved all of it), because I found it incredibly refreshing. How often do we see "10 Ways to Get Ahead at Work" or "How to Make the Best Impression At Work," etc. It's exhausting. Amy's saying care about your work and work hard, but get fulfillment from other aspects of your life. Not necessarily just your career. For me, that's pulling back a bit from this need for a breakneck pace, not just in my career, but in all aspects of my life. Slow down, pull back, think.
I realize this post has been a bit ramble-y, but I think being thoughtful of where we invest our energy is so important. I'm going to be more careful where I give it out. I'm going to try to put myself first. (And how perfect is this t-shirt from Rad for this story and the importance of cultivating creativity in our lives?! I know the message on it hits home for so many people.)
Cheers, my dear friends, to taking care of you, putting yourself first, and investing your energy mindfully!
P.S. You might also like 8 reasons to read Amy Poehler's book.
Photographs by Tom Schelling