As long as I can remember, I have been enchanted by the idea of a Renaissance man – a person who has the time, the money, the fortitude to become an expert in science and art and literature. That is my compulsion. Here is what I want to accomplish in the next year…
- speak a foreign language fluently
- read the best 100 english-language novels
- finish reading all of P.G. Wodehouse
- master 20+ recipes that are heartbreakingly delicious
- be crazy strong, a competent beginning ballerina, and make it to advanced yoga
- make a ton of quilts, finish a lot of embroidery and cross-stitch, make a handmade gift for every gift-giving occasion
- relearn organic chemistry
- regularly meditate so that I think more clearly and am more resilient
- be crazy knowledgeable in the best of americana indie music
- join an amateur improv troupe
- become a deep expert in modern art
- volunteer 100+ hours
- make eating healthier a sustained practice
- have beautiful skin
- create a beautiful flower garden and bountiful, eco-friendly vegetable garden
- learn to speak credibly about wine
- find my voice and post regularly on this blog and have hundreds of people follow and like
and the list could go on, and on, and on.
Several problems here – several reasons why completing this list in the next year is not possible – let’s start with the obvious ones…
- I like to nap. I love that feeling of falling asleep and surrendering for an hour or two.
- I have a job (a job I love, but still a job)
- I love some people and it is important for me to spend time with them
- There are typically only 24 hours in a day – and that is inclusive of nap time
- My adorable kitten cat misses me when I am away.
Now, for some of the less obvious reasons…
- I like to be at home. There, I said it. I have fought against this my whole life – but single or married, I have always loved to be at home. I love the comfort. I love the low stress. I don’t curl into a ball and start rocking myself, but I don’t like crowds, I am so over partying, and I don’t like to wear a bra or shoes any longer than is absolutely required by decency.
- I love people, but I reach my breaking point of social interaction through work. I have always been a person who likes to do everything to make other people feel comfortable. Nod when I disagree with them, laugh at unfunny jokes, smile when they say something rude to me. I am working hard to break the habits that are not helpful for my career success. And I am pretty sure my immediate family would laugh their butts off at me claiming to be over-agreeable. It is that strange spot with people who I am not extremely connected to, but friends with, where my crimes against being “real” are most egregious. I am not going to tell you how it is. I am not going to call you on your shit. I am not the one to ask if your sweater makes you look fat. I don’t like this about myself… but then again, I know never to ask anybody (other than my mom or my trainer) for honest feedback about my personal life or clothing choices. (Again, different at work – I loves me some honest feedback about my work performance – that is helpful and doesn’t feel personal.) Anyway… diatribe ending in 10… 9… 8… I feel exhausted and lonely and whipped after most personal outings. And I am pretty sure my husband could live a happy life without ever again having to listen to me dissect what I really wanted to say after spending time with some people. “Can you BELIEVE she said that to her kids???” “Who says that my barrette is out of style?? Who DOES that???”
- There are some things that I think I should be good at, but I don’t like to do. (Insert old trope about women thinking they need to be all things to all people and have a Martha Stewart house.) I don’t like to cook. I don’t like to garden. I want to speak a foreign language, but I am not willing to put the work into it that is needed.
It feels good to write those things – to be honest with myself about who I am and what I really want. (If I have hurt your feelings with any of the above, please text me immediately and allow me to disavow all of it so that you feel better. I was just kidding. LOL)
Which brings me to the point of this post. Recently I was introduced to the ideas of Greg McKeown. The quote that got me…
“Instead of making just a millimeter of progress in a million directions he began to generate tremendous momentum towards accomplishing the things that were truly vital.”
OMG. Duh. By trying to fit everything in, I haven’t been accomplishing anything. Greg’s work is focused on career success. And I am making some changes in how I approach my work to fit in these ideas – while being so grateful for having that sort of agency in my work life.
But where I really needed this advice was in my personal growth focus. I can’t be a Renaissance woman. Let it go. Move on to a new dream. And decide what is essential. And then make real progress in those areas. I can learn German and grow sweet peas in my next life.