I NEED TO
Above are the three words that have plagued my thoughts. (And, if I’m a betting woman, yours, too.)
As humans on this planet, there is definitely a lot we need to do. We need to earn a living, wash the dishes, pay taxes, use deodorant.
But then there is all the extra stuff we tell ourselves that we “need” to do. For me as a blogger/entrepreneur/achiever, this stuff is:
- I need to pin at least 12 times a day on Pinterest.
- I need to to have more followers on Facebook and more email subscribers.
- I need to become an expert gardener and plant all of my own food.
- I need to start making my own cooking videos.
- I need to know where I will be 5 years from now.
At face value, all of these “needs” look like positive pursuits.
…what you don’t see after each one of these “needs” is the silent-but-deafening suffix of:
…because if I don’t, I will have failed.
Let’s put the two together, shall we?
I need to build this blog’s numbers/stats/etc., because if I don’t, it will mean I have failed at blogging. And if I don’t succeed at blogging, then what will I have accomplished? I’m a 30-something female who doesn’t have children. And if I’m not having babies, then whatever else I do better be really damn successful or people will think I have wasted my life on frivolity.
Jeez. What a burden. So much for having an outlet to share and teach and meet people. But why have an outlet when you can have a litmus test, right?
Do you do the same? Do the items on your I NEED TO list end in “…because if I don’t I will have failed”? Or worse, “…because if I don’t, people will think _____”?
Do you place your value on the because-if-I-don’ts?
My answer to this question has been a resounding YES for a long, long time. So long, in fact, that I’m FINALLY fed up with my value being tied up in I-need-tos and because-if-I-don’ts. And here’s what I’m doing to change my answer:
I’M LETTING MYSELF GO
In college, I let myself go. I gained a ton of weight, wore baggy clothes, didn’t shave my legs and hid behind a bushy head of hair.
I’m not talking about that kind of letting ourselves go.
I’m talking about letting ourselves be and do the things that stir our soul, that we naturally gravitate towards, that (imagine!) make us smile.
Last month, I went through a week of what can be described as grief. Grief at the possibilities and potential I feel I’m losing out on. I spent every free moment in a dark room, staring out a window and being very still. I hardly slept, I hardly ate; I just cried and listened to a handful of songs over and over and over again. It may have seemed sudden to those around me, but this had been slowly building up all along. Years of comparing my successes to others and to the standards in my head eventually caused me to shut down.
Do you struggle with a “grass-is-greener” mindset, too?
Examples of my greener grasses are:
- If only we lived THERE.
- If only I had THAT opportunity when I was younger.
- If only I had THOSE blog numbers.
- If only I had HER butt. 😉
Mr. Smith recently hosted Seth Godin on his podcast. If you don’t know who Seth Godin is, he is a master of marketing and story telling. (He also has a really nicely-shaped bald head and pleasant smile.) When my husband asked Seth how artists should think about growth/followers/stats, his reply was:
Believing that ‘the grass is always greener’ [will get you] in trouble. You’ve already got all the grass you’re going to get. What you need to do is farm it, not go hunting.
Farm the grass you have instead of hunting down the grass you feel you “need” to have.
In letting myself go, I’ve allowed myself to stop wasting time farming someone else’s grass. It’s time to farm the grass that only I can farm! Otherwise, I will have ended my life with a plot that looks like this:
Farming your own grass means embracing and pursuing all the things YOU TRULY LOVE to do and have always wanted to do. Your list of TRUE need-to’s. The need-to’s that are followed, not by the suffix of “because if I don’t I will fail,” but by the suffix:
“….because the world needs what only I can offer.”
What does this new “NEED TO” list look like for you? What do YOU uniquely bring to the world?
Confession: In letting myself go farm my own grass and embrace/pursue my dreams, I ran into a little trouble. One morning, I decided to watch some Malala Yousafzai speeches for inspiration. Only, instead of feeling inspired, I felt guilty. Jeez, my dreams and goals look shallow and stupid compared to Malala’s, I thought. Who cares about planting vegetables or being in front of a camera or honing my yoga skills when I could be bringing education to third-world countries? These thoughts almost shut me down and had me running for my old “NEED TO” list until I had these two realizations:
- If I live a life that is true to myself, then I cannot help but give a great gift to the world.
- Dream and goals become 10 times more powerful once I incorporate helping other people into them, no matter who the people are. They could be the uneducated girls of a third-world country, a friend who feels stuck or a casual observer.
Only YOU can farm the grass you have and impact the lives only YOU can reach. Chances are the patch of cool, green grass you have lovingly farmed will comfort and inspire another.
So let yourself go!
Go write that book, create that painting, invent that device, take that course, go on that trip, take a nap….or, in my case, practice that headstand instead of figuring out social media algorithms.