One of the main differences I’ve encountered during the transition from an Oklahoma girl, to a Virginia girl, to a girl working in Virginia and living in D.C. is all the additional time I’ve suddenly been afforded.
Back home (I think Oklahoma will always be “home), I filled my days to the brim with responsibilities – in the ever present search for purpose. I took on part-time jobs, running, anything to give me a feeling of contentment that was never realized.
I was busy, but miserably so.
When I moved to Virginia, I was completely enraptured in a new life that was exciting, vibrant and kept me constantly on my toes. I was continually meeting new people, engaging in new activities, getting lost and finding my way.
I was busy, but much less miserable.
In both of these scenarios, even when I was stressed out and unhappy, I always felt justified in maxing out my time. After all, only lazy people aren’t busy, I subconsciously told myself.
Now, almost a year after leaving Oklahoma, I seem to have stepped off the hamster wheel I’ve been furiously spinning, and I’m reeling and dizzy and disoriented.
I think I’ve mentioned before that one of my pet peeves is people who make themselves busier than they need to be, and then whine about it. I may have tried to avoid the whining aspect (and failed occasionally) but I was definitely guilty of falling prey to my own pet peeve. I made myself busier than I needed to be, for no reason other than my own neuroses.
We all have the choice to decide how busy we are or aren’t going to be. You can argue and say that we don’t and I know every circumstance is different, but it usually does all come down to choice.
Most of the time, we set up arbitrary goals and schedules in our heads that only need to be met because we want them to, not because they are mandatory.
It was that trap that I’ve fallen into over and over again. It’s my default, to believe that if I’m not stressed then I’m not productive.
Since quitting my last job, moving in with Mr. T and more or less just becoming acclimated to a non-Oklahoma way of life – I’ve suddenly found myself enveloped in a whole lot of extra time.
My first response wasn’t to be excited by it, but overwhelmed. What to do with ALL THIS TIME?!
I never said I was a logical person, did I?
During a discussion with Mr. T last week, okay an argument – those happen occasionally when you live together, he mentioned that he was having difficulty dealing with the fact that I constantly schedule and plan so much into a day.
At first, I had the typical knee-jerk reaction of defensiveness and a “who do you think you are, telling me how to live MY life!?” kind of attitude, but then I thought about it, and he was quite right.
As a defense mechanism against my own flawed idea that having free time equals sucking at life, I had begun to cram sometimes important but oftentimes pointless activities into each and every day.
But because I’m always willing to accept the fact that I might not be perfect, I took Mr. T’s words to heart and have been trying very hard to just embrace this slower pace.
This doesn’t mean that I’m sleeping in until noon every day and eating bonbons, or that I’ll ever abandon my beloved Google calendar, but it means I’ve unwashed my brain from thinking I have to be doing something all the time.
The result has been an increased awareness and ability to think freely and more clearly. A mundane experience like walking home from yoga, when I can feel the cool air blow around me and hear street musicians playing in the distance, makes me feel happier and more fulfilled than any of the never-ending, self-enforced tasks I could have been muddling through instead.
It’s something that’s going to take practice for me. I feel much more settled when I have a long to-do list and an order for my day, so I know I’ll never abandon the art of planning all together.
But I am glad that I’ve now given myself the opportunity to accept the un-busy periods and fill them with a glass of wine and a book, or another few pages of my short story – something that is decided in the moment and not dictated by an iron-fist schedule.
I think this could be quite revolutionary for an illogical lady like myself.