It’s a good time to promote peace, and I’m not just referring to current events in the US (though we should be talking about peace there too). No, I’m talking about inner peace. I don’t know about you, but sometimes it can feel like everyone and their mother is outdoing you at – well, you name it. I just read a really great article by a friend that expresses why it can be more hurtful than helpful to be surrounded by social media; it’s a convenient place for everyone you’re “friends” with to blast out their constant success (#blessed anyone?). After a while, that can get pretty tiring.
I used to congratulate myself on attempts to not compare myself to others. I was an apple, they were oranges. We had separate paths in life, different opportunities, were different people. Comparing would only be cruel and uneven. Of course I wasn’t as good a runner as so-and-so, they’d been running since middle school and loved it while I hate running. The list goes on and on.
Nonetheless, I’ve always been my biggest critic. When I didn’t get the grade I wanted, or fell short of getting the job I’d interviewed for, I was the first person to say you blew it, why didn’t you try harder?
As I’ve gotten older, my inner “coach” has only gotten more relentless. I would spend entire days stressed out because I hadn’t been able to get up in time in the morning, the regret hanging over me like a cloud. I had so many standards I wasn’t meeting up to, and that little inner voice was vicious. You’re lazy! Why can’t you go to bed on time? Why did you waste all of that time playing around on the Internet when you should have been doing work??
This all came to a head recently at the end of November, when I wrapped up NaNoWriMo (you can read more about that here). As a recap, you’re supposed to end up with 50,000 words by midnight on November 30. I had done really well, I have to say, at keeping my word count afloat. In fact, up until the last week, I was on track to reaching 50,000. The last week, though, was the most challenging. I was working later hours to prep for the upcoming Thanksgiving break, I myself was prepping for my trip up north, and then Thanksgiving itself came in all of its turkey-sodden glory. While I was still writing, I couldn’t pound out that 1,668 minimum, and I quickly fell behind.
November 30th, I remember sitting at my kitchen table staring at my computer. My heart was racing, my stomach was turning, and all I could think about was how much I sucked, I could never finish anything! Honestly, I was feeling like I used to during the school year, when a looming deadline for a paper came up and I felt unprepared.
Instead of continuing to panic, though, I took a note from Disney’s Frozen and just…let it go. I let it all go. I shrugged my shoulders, returned to washing the dishes and packing my lunch, and turned my laptop off. I had done my very best for this project, and that’s what mattered. The world was not going to end because I was 12,000 words short. I was not a bad person for not finishing. Life would go on. I felt so much better!
Since then (yes, it’s only been four days, but you won’t believe how often I get stressed) I’ve tried to extend this attitude to every time I’ve felt overwhelmed. OK, so I didn’t go to the gym today. I’ll just go tomorrow. Needed the sleep anyways! The weight off my shoulders has been enormous. And that mean self-talk I indulged in? I’ve tried to put some advice from my mom to use: speak to yourself like you would speak to a friend. And I would never tell a friend they were a lazy sack of potatoes for not running that extra mile at 5AM.