I’ve been largely absent from almost every source of social interaction for the last six weeks. (With the exception of a short visit to one site that led to my last post.) I found that I needed this time because I was overwhelmed trying to figure out what to do next after getting that MBA, where to concentrate my efforts and how I can move on from one season to another without losing my mind. In a sense, I needed to make sure I was not heading further away from the calm I seek.
I took a time out and went basket shopping. Well, in a sense.
You see, I have pulled back and entered isolation to take a good look at my basket and make sure I am carrying the right basket. My basket is what matters to me. It contains all the things I am responsible for, what I should care about and what I can realistically control.
After much speculation, I think that we are only supposed to really “worry” about those things that belong in our basket. I am not saying we cannot empathize with causes or people. What I am saying is the things that should rattle us or in any way exude any pressure on our state of calm in the world are those things that we control.
So, in order to know if I had the right basket and that it contained the right things, I had to figure out what I was really responsible for. Some would argue that is very easy. I would disagree.
I believe that we live in a society today that has been overwhelmed with knowing so much about so many things and so many people that it is literally a chore for some to figure out what their basket is all about. I took this time out to identify my own.
What I have learned is what I can control, what I cannot control and what I try to control. I found out that the things that threaten my state of calm the most are those things that I cannot control but try to control. When I start to look in other baskets and try on some of the things stored in those baskets, I start feeling stressed and my mind begins to race more than usual.
So, what can I control? Well, that is a story for another day. I found my basket and now I need to learn to carry it and quit worrying about what everyone else has in their baskets.
I decided on August 18th to take a month off after finishing my MBA. Before I even finished, there were people asking “what next” and it was very tiring. As I contemplated earlier, why does there have to be a “what next?”
I know, for me, there will be a “what next” since I am never content to stop learning and stretching myself. Right now, it is not about the search for a new job or more money. For me, it is about finding something new, something “next” after years at the same company, doing the same thing and getting the same lack of recognition for the contributions I think I am making.
So, “what next?” I decided to take a month off and I meant it. I would not commit to ANYTHING for a month. No commitment to job search, no commitment to planning and certainly no more school. I just simply wanted to bask in the feeling of accomplishment.
As the month wears down, the “what next” is creeping up. I’m curious to see what this week brings. I feel my consciousness awakening and thinking about what the next stretch will be. Tuesday will be the day to enter the next phase. I am starting to feel a sense of excitement and a sense of dread.
I understand the excitement for an ADHD brain that must always be on and doing. I understand the excitement for someone who has spent a lifetime learning and looking for more. The dread is a interesting.
I believe the dread comes from that place inside of me that keeps wondering what the “calm” is all about. I believe in some small tiny way my mind is trying to figure out how “calm” and “next” will work together. I believe I dread a return to hectic and I dread the loss of what little progress I have made toward the calm.
I don’t think anyone can say that procrastination actually makes them calm; not with a straight face anyway. So my question is this, if we all know that procrastination makes us anxious and takes us away from calm, why do we do it?
I sit and think this while I procrastinate moving forward on three papers that I refused to spend time on for the past three days. I sit and think, just how will I finish the work and get it in before our trip this coming week? I sit and think, just why do I do this to myself?
I, like many, am a product of now. Now it feels good to lay in bed and watch a movie with my husband. Now it feels right to clean out that fish tank that I procrastinated last weekend. Now it feels right to search for just the right seasonings to make barbecue sauce that has no sugar for my finicky diet. Now….and so it goes.
And the more I contemplate about putting off what must be done, the more anxious I get and I ask myself why do I never learn? Do I enjoy the rush of trying to get it all done? Do I enjoy the long marathon of writing and stressing? I don’t think so.
I do think that I dread the feeling that whatever I start will not measure up to my idea of my best. I procrastinate in an effort to avoid disappointing myself. But that procrastination does little to bring me calm. And that is where the true disappointment lies when the dust settles.
Here it is, the Fourth of July. While we will all rightly be focusing on American Independence in the U.S. I can’t stop thinking about personal independence.
There’s a lot of feel good quotes and slogans that tell us to that no one can make us feel X or no one can make us do Y but when it all boils down, we are all led by some unseen something. That something tells us what is right and wrong. It tells us what we “should” be doing and what we “should” be thinking, etc.
I believe that unseen something is part of us all. We all have a never ending commentary playing in our heads. I used to think I was unique before I realized that I am not alone in this. Now I just want to learn to quiet the voice and just be calm for a moment or two.
Right now, I’m inclined to believe that the little “something” inside of us is largely a product of our environment, the things we were taught when young and still experiencing things for the first time. It is a product of what the authority figures in our lives taught us about right and wrong, responsibility, morality, etc.
What makes us all different is how we deal with the commentary and that little “something” that tells us what to do or not do. Some will learn early to ignore the internal commentary and make their own way; thinking independently. Others, like myself, will spend years listening to the commentary, feeling a sense of duty for everyone and everything and wishing for the independence and calm.
The question is how does one learn to think independently of this commentary? How does one shift from the sense of duty and responsibility to everyone to duty to self? That’s really the independence I’ve been thinking about today. No offense to this great Nation.