“The world is gonna judge you no matter what you do, so live your life the way you fucking want to.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt (paraphrased)
It was October and I just finished my first half marathon. When I started training last summer, I envisioned writing some profound “self-actualization through running” post after accomplishing my goal. But that’s not really how it went. In fact, upon receiving my finishers medal, and in the weeks after, I felt pretty crummy. My mind and body were wrecked. From the start I knew that logging all those miles would take a toll on my bad back, hips, and knees. But when a friend of mine asked me to run, I said “yes” anyway, because I thought I should
About the same time I started increasing my running mileage, my work was beginning to get noticed. Admittedly I liked the attention, but I started feeling pressured to take on more consulting work. Right along with earning a Ph.D (and running half marathons), it’s one of the trendy things for student affairs professionals to take up. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I fell into the trap – feeling like what I was doing just wasn’t enough. And so I launched a new website and took on a ton of new clients in addition to my 8-5ish job and long runs on the weekends.
I became a career coaching and slogging machine. My business was booming, but my relationships and hobbies were starting to suffer. My husband had to share quality time with me, the treadmill, and a stack of résumés that needed editing. I stopped writing for fun and began feeling censored, boxed-in, and uninspired. (You guys – I even stopped using swears in my blog posts.)
Present day: It’s December and I am running and consulting much less. I am tired, but I am happy. I’ve been kicking ass at my job, teaching a biz comm class on the side, consulting a little, and saying “NO” a lot. I passed on more writing and speaking gigs and said “YES” to more wine-jamma Fridays with my partner and friends. I said “yes” to more recharge days and “no” to more meetings.
I felt guilty at first, but then I let that shit GO.
I stopped shoulding on myself and so should you.
The trick is to figure out what YOU want. This takes most of us a while, it’s OKAY. I know it seems like everyone around you is running marathons while writing science fiction novels and raising quadruplets who play classical piano. It’s easy to get insecure about this, so when people compliment your talents it’s easy to get sucked into what everyone else is doing. Respond to unsolicited advice with a silent, “ARE YOU SHOULDING ME?!” and then a hearty, “THANKS, BUT NO THANKS.”
If you want to go back to school to get your MBA, cool! If you want to take up cross country skiing, cool! If you want to become a professional speaker, cool! If you want to spend your Sunday watching Netflix and eating Nutella out of the jar, you do you my friend. I support you (and please pass the Nutella.)