Ive been trying to allow myself to see some of my emotions like I do the girls’, which is to say, with a measure of compassion. The girls are tumbling through changes and launching themselves toward new things and people. They don’t always know why. They are trying o figure out how to explain what they are feeling or make sense of a new desire not to talk about every little thing. Patience is gold and I am trying to be a diligent miner.
This post is something that I posted on Medium last week. As friends have shared it I have reread it and each time I rediscover forgiveness for myself and little smidges of resolve to trust my instinct. I’d love to know if any of this resonates with you or what sorts of things you are trying to figure out, because the thing that keeps getting clearer to me is that we are never done figuring “it” or ourselves out in life.
A weeks ago I took off my FitBit. I noticed what seemed like an unhealthy preoccupation, less with my own activity, than with that of the people I was connected with on the app. I was participating in workweek challenges and found myself running in place in the bathroom as I brushed my teeth. I wouldn’t stop until I pulled ahead of my competitors, even if it meant going to sleep sweaty a half an hour late. Each morning I’d check and realize that someone on the West Coast had pulled ahead of me in the night. It was a relentless and wholly ungratifying cycle.
I’ve done a similar thing with Facebook, the predictable tide of likes on pithy posts and the silence on posts related to race or women’s rights wears on my nerves. Add to that the people in my circle who aren’t friends, rather acquaintances I begrudgingly let in because my husband friended them or people whose views are in riotous contradiction with my own but I fear angering with an unfriending. Not checking Facebook makes me feel good every time.
Figuring out how to balance what makes me happy and what makes me feel like I am failing is, I am realizing, a life long process. I tend to think of myself as less organized than other people. I lament having a haphazard approach to everything; I don’t follow recipes, I don’t have a specific clothing style, I don’t train for 10ks or marathons, and I don’t have a nightly eye cream routine. Sometimes it feels like I don’t so much live my life as I spend each day trying not to fall on my face or get buried by the things I forgot I needed to do.
I realize in the grand scheme of things that none of this really matters, but it does when used as a measure of worth. The things I am doing with Facebook and FitBit have made me feel ashamed, like I am unable to manage things that shouldn’t be a problem.
The other day when I saw this image on Instagram from Nicole Feliciano, it all clicked.
“Edit your like frequently and ruthlessly. It’s your masterpiece after all.” Why shouldn’t we edit? This isn’t an invitation to curate a perfect life in images on Facebook; this is a genuine call to arms to create the life that is just right for you by editing. Take away what doesn’t fit, add back what used to feel good. Be Goldilocks, unapologetically, you know, minus the part about breaking into people’s homes.
I am not other women. My kids are not the same as the kids down the street. My marriage isn’t anyone’s marriage but my husband’s and mine. It’s ok to focus on ourselves; try on a 10k for size or pass up the faux fur trend being touted as this season’s must have. It isn’t high maintenance to want for things be just right; this is called living.
Why then, do some of us fear editing? How is it that I can be afraid to unfriend someone on Facebook? Can I accept without guilt that I don’t like Zombie tv shows in spite of people swearing that I have to try them?
Goldilocks illustration by Patten Wilson
At the table in the kitchen, there were three bowls of porridge. Goldilocks was hungry. She tasted the porridge from the first bowl.
“This porridge is too hot!” she exclaimed.
So, she tasted the porridge from the second bowl.
“This porridge is too cold,” she said
So, she tasted the last bowl of porridge.
“Ahhh, this porridge is just right,” she said happily and she ate it all up.
It’s time we reclaim our instinct to seek out what is best. This can be scary, I know. Each time I get an invitation to another FitBit competition I doubt myself, “Am I wimping out? Should I jump back in?” The answer is that if there comes a time when getting back in that particular game feels good, then that’s when I return. I don’t need to wedge myself into a race, outfit, or friendship that doesn’t feel right.
My mom said something to me growing up that has stayed with me through my adult life, applicable as a parent and a business owner. “My favorite people for you are not always the people who I like best, they are the people who I see making you feel the happiest. Trust that, mandarin.”
If you take one thing away from this post I hope it’s this, “You are the best judge of what is right for you.”