Today, I’m heading out to drop off a van-load full of once-loved but now unused belongings. Then, we’ll stop for breakfast on the way to the grocery store, where we’ll pick up some essentials to make our New Year’s Eve even more complete. And I can’t help to think of the symbolism of what this means for me right now.
This week, between Christmas and the New Year, is a reflective week for many. For me, it’s a deep soul-wrenching period as I reflect on what’s been and what is yet to come. Historically, I’ve dreamed big dreams on NYE. I’ve hoped for big wins and little wins, excitement and peace, solitude and communion. I read and I soak up life and I write and I contemplate. But I’ve never found more peace in this anchoring 52nd week of the year than I have this time around.
The past few years for me have been a season of hustle–of enormous empowerment and the rush of adrenaline that feels so damn good when you’re riding the wave of action. Big things happened for me–both big wins and big losses. Celebrity deaths and a political season that left everyone open-jawed aside, 2016 has been a struggle and I know that must mean that this season is ending and it’s time for a new one. I’ve discovered that, while necessary to my journey, hustle makes promises it can’t keep. It can’t make me feel whole, or at peace, or even fulfilled. It’s just a chapter in the story.
2017 is the start of a new season–one that has me searching for slowness. It has me confronting the narratives I’ve told myself about who I must be and how I must walk through life. So far, the story has been one of fight, of perseverance, of conquest, of victory. But I’ve also told myself that somehow I don’t also deserve quiet, stillness, and aimless fun. I’ve decided that I don’t deserve a day without purpose–on purpose. Well, I do.
This seems to be a common theme among many women this year. We’ve chosen to prove our worth to the world through working hard, through accomplishing big things, through shocking everyone we know with what we can do. But we’ve made it to the top of the mountain we set out to climb and we realize this isn’t what we thought it would be. See, the narrative of fight, persevere, and conquer–it never has an end point. It’s a continual loop. And I’m choosing to opt out of the loop.
Working harder and doing more and getting less sleep and creating new things to sell and making more money and paying off new debt and darkening the circles under my eyes to keep my kids in a school I once only thought I’d dream of–these things will never prove my worth. I tried it. It didn’t work. There’s just new challenges, new bills, new expenses, new struggles.
In writing these words, my breath shortened and the pace sped up. My chest got tight and I could feel the pressure in my head rise. The narrative of hustle no longer excites me. It gives me a damn anxiety attack.
My soul is crying out for stillness, lightheartedness, simple delights. I no longer want to feel like I have something to prove. I want to know that my worth is inherent and given to me by my creator–not earned through accomplishing more.
Emails will go unanswered for days at a time if I need it. I will not say yes to new projects just because the money looks good. I won’t turn on the laptop or phone until I’ve sipped tea in the early morning and I will take my sweet time throughout every moment of my day. I will do what feels calm, and good, and real. And in the quiet, I hope to find what I’m looking for.
“Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.”