5 terrible mistakes I've made and what I've learned from them.
I think we need to be a lot more honest about mistakes. I’m leading by example. Here's a brief synopses of some terrible mistakes I've made.
Making things hard.
Let me explain. I am a person who feels things deeply, thinks about things deeply, and spends a lot of time in my own head. I am an only child and a reflective person. I like being alone and I like thinking. This has sometimes led me to think too hard about lots of things. Some people may describe me as indecisive.
Whether or not I identify as indecisive changes regularly….
Anyway, I claim I do this because I care about people and the world and yadda yadda yadda. That’s good and great for my philosophical quests, but less beneficial for the everyday decisions I overthink.
Since welcoming our fourth child, I have experienced a dramatic decline in availability of mental and emotional energy. And so I’ve been trying to be efficient with the resources I do have. A way I do this is by asking myself, “How would this look if it were easy?”
For example. I do not have the ability to think about what we are going to eat every day. I simply can’t. So, for me, the answer to “How would this look if it were easy?” is creating a meal plan, grocery shopping once a week, and deciding who is going to make what in advance.
On the front end, it’s more work. But on 5pm on a Tuesday, it’s my saving grace.
Consuming at the expense of producing.
I consume a lot of media. Books, podcasts, articles, documentaries, you name it. Except for movies. I can spend hours of my day consuming other people’s thoughts and opinions.
This is fine and it fills my cup.
Except when it makes me feel envious, less-than, or otherwise shitty.
The remedy for that is producing my own media. The trick is that it doesn’t have to be hard (see above). I don’t have to create a class, draft a newsletter, or perfect my message to use my voice. Writing something. Sharing a picture. Telling my truth to a friend. These are all ways I can tap into my creativity and give my voice the space to be heard.
I use envy as my cue to get to work.
Thinking my husband had to be my best friend.
He’s the best person I know. But he’s not my best friend. He is my husband. There was a point early in my marriage when I was frustrated and feeling ‘unseen’. I felt like we were incompatible because we had nothing in common. It was a very distressing time in our relationship. I’ve come to learn we don’t have to have everything in common.
He is not interested in all the same things I’m interested in and that’s ok.
He doesn’t want to talk about the parallels between religion, money, and food. But I have a friend who loves nerding out about this as much as I do.
He is not interested in social justice and birth activism. But I know somebody who is, and so I talk about it with them.
He is not jazzed about eastern philosophy or entrepreneurship, but I know someone who is as lit up about those things as I am, and we have a blast hashing it out over lunch.
I call this strategy ‘farming it out’ and it’s been so effective in our relationship.
We have other common interests, and more than that, we have a love that transcends hobbies. We fiercely protect our love for each other. It is the holy ground on which we have built our family. We share devotion for the life we are creating together, and we are better able to do that when we approach it as well rounded individuals.
As a side note: it’s a lofty expectation for your chosen life partner to also be your BFF, no? Please have a beautiful soul, be an excellent father, a wonderful husband, exceptional in bed, and also share my taste in literature and pastimes? That's a tall order for one person to fill.
Not leaving room for mystery.
I used to hold tightly onto the belief that ‘active choices’ were the end all be all. That the only way to take responsibility for your life was to take full ownership of every aspect of every thing.
I still believe that we are responsible for the life we create. But I’ve softened around the edges on this one. Because sometimes it’s true that we were just in the right place at the right time. Or that, while yes, we worked hard to be the most qualified candidate sometimes we won’t get that job. And there’s no ‘reason’.
Sometimes awful terrible things happen. Sometimes amazing wonderful things happen. And what I’ve come to learn is that it’s never about what happens. It’s about what we do next.
This means that I’ve gotten comfortable with not knowing why. I rarely ask why life happens the way it does. Simply because it seldom matters. Instead, I focus my attention on the what and the how when deciding how to proceed.
Not having enough fun.
You know the way your face aches and your belly hurts from laughter? No? Me either.
Well that’s not completely true, but for a long time I’ve been attached to the hard work of life. I’ve talked a lot about life’s challenges. But as I mentioned here, I’m tired of that at the moment. It’s been fine, but it hasn’t been fun.
I get it. Life is hard. But it’s also fun if you seek fun, and pursue fun, and prioritize fun.
I have not been good at that up to this point, but I am working on it. Even the must do’s of life can be more fun with a little intention.
We don’t win an award for The Most Serious, Deep, and Thoughtful Life. In fact, my thee guiding values for my 27th year of life reflect this shift in heart. Stay tuned for those.