“Start saying ‘no.'” It was an easy but necessary response from my friend, Fischer. I’d just made a statement about feeling overwhelmed by my inability to lighten up my social calendar. Of course, there’s little sympathy to go around for someone who thinks he has too many friends and too many positive things taking place in his life. With that said, when it comes at the expense of your own temporary sense of sanity, who really cares about anyone else’s sympathy?
In the past 30 days, I’d had two weddings, two trips out of state, a funeral, remodeling projects, a move into my first owned property and the start of a new job. So when he told me to say no, I used this weekend as an opportunity to do just that. And it revealed a few things to me.
1. I’m bad at being alone. Not in the “need a girlfriend” way, although I’ve historically had that problem, too, but in the “time to myself with my own thoughts” kind of way. I use a busy social calendar as a crutch for not knowing what to do with myself when time is at my disposal.
2. I’m a procrastinator. I begged myself for free time and I got it. Then I squandered most of it when I had the opportunity to make myself useful. Who knows – maybe being useless for 3 days will help make me useful enough to accomplish an important goal in the next 3 months.
3. I don’t dream big enough. I continue to downplay the importance of chasing my goals now, and worse yet, I discount my ability to hit them. I want to get to a level that would see my writing allow me to reach a truly significant audience. Yet for the better part of several years, I’ve done little to pursue that goal with the type of ambition that would show I actually believe I can do it.
4. Looking like you have your act together doesn’t mean you have your act together. I bought my first home. I started a new, good job. Yet my inability to finish my first book is outshining those two accomplishments in my mind’s eye. Which reminds me of something that I’ve always known to be true – the definition of ‘victory’ in your life should only be defined by you. If you fail to achieve goals that are important to you, and devote more energy to reaching an imagined standard of success, then you’re still failing.
5. I’ve grown older but I wish I’d grown up just as fast. I used to pride myself on my relationships with women and my devotion to God; I can say that both were better in my younger years. Yet, I’ve become more ambitious and productive as I’ve grown, often to the benefit of myself and, thankfully, of others, too. It’s a mixed batch, and life is always like that.
6. I love making my parents proud and I’m too hard on myself. No one is ever going to be more critical of me than me. I have a better first-hand account of my highs and lows than anyone else, yet it’s the words and eyes of my parents that push me on. Professionally, I’m achieving things that my family worked so hard to make possible, and I’m doing it in a city that used to feel so far out of my reach even when I first called it home. And they know that, despite whatever shortcomings I may be beating myself up for, there is a boy inside me who has always feared his ups and downs – and a man capable of triumphing over all of it.
There’s a season for everything and I’m determined to make this one my best yet.