|You don't have to be a superhero to be happy.|
I used to feel a driving need to be great, to make something of my life … and I've downscaled my own expectations. And you know what? It's fine.
All my life, I've had this inkling I should be somebody. Maybe because I was really smart as a child, I felt bad that I wasn't in fact a child prodigy. I felt sheepish thinking about Mozart (the overachiever!) or even fictional protagonists like Doogie Howser (a doctor at age 14! how can I compete?). I remember watching Jennifer Capriati play tennis at 16 or so and finding out this teen phenom was my age and hearing my parents josh that I hadn't accomplished anything so epic — and taking it to heart, even though I stank at tennis.
I was awarded all sorts of minor scholarships and honors when I graduated high school, but one that stood out to me was a music scholarship. Out of all the highly talented seniors in my musical groups, why had I gotten the music scholarship? I wasn't even planning on a career in music; was I worthy of such a prize? (Clearly no.)
Then there were the teachers and professors (and my mom!) telling me over and over again that I had it in me to be a writer, that I shouldn't let that gift go to waste. So as birthday after birthday passed without a novel on Oprah's list or a multi-million-dollar movie deal, I felt disappointed in my own stagnation.
It was all a sort of megalomania without a purpose: a lot of narcissism without much sticktoitedness.
I figured out that a lot of it was religious — that I felt called to a higher purpose because I believed in that from a faith perspective. (God = meaning.) I don't even really want to go into it all here except to say that my belief in some overarching theme for my life fell away. At first it made me feel despairing … and then it was freeing.
Because if I'm not slated to be somebody … then I can just be me.
If I don't have to achieve something to have worth and value and to have fulfilled my purpose(lessness) in life, then I can just be.
I've looked around at the "great" people in life — the leaders, the superstars, the child prodigies grown up — and I don't see a lot of pure happiness. Some of them are proud of their achievements, sure, but many more of them seem broken, stressed, dissatisfied. I came to the realization that I'd far rather be happy than impressive.
I'm learning to embrace these days — each long, similar day — of being a mother of two children, of being a wife, of being a woman in her mid-thirties. I do laundry; I play Play-Doh and Monopoly Junior; I wipe down the same spills on the same counters for the seventh time in a day. I'm a writer, and a reader, and a goofer-off, and a TV-watcher, and it's not a waste of my time, because it's all what makes me grounded and connected and happy and whole.
I think there's a serenity that comes from living in the moment and not worrying too much about a five-year or ten-year or lifelong plan, about ticking off items on the bucket list, or impressing former friends at your next reunion.
I used to scorn normal people even as I was one. I used to get frustrated with people who wanted to be parents and work in a job and fool around on the weekends and that was it. But now I'm approaching a peace with being exactly that person.
I still have my ambitions, but I'm trying more and more not to define my value (or lack thereof) by what I have(n't) accomplished. Being is enough.
That is my simplicity.
- The Moments In Between - Amber from Heart Wanderings takes her yoga practice off the mat to focus on the ordinary moments which make mothering magical.
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- A Simple Life is a Peaceful Life, For Me - Destany at They Are All of Me writes how simplicity is a very necessary part of her daily function and crucial for coping with Adult Attention Deficit Disorder.
- Getting Back to the Basics - Minimalism was the first step toward living simply for Momma Jorje. Now she's got big plans on getting back to the basics of living in order to live a simple, healthy, family-focused lifestyle.
- Simplicity - What living simply means to sustainablemum and how it is woven into the fabric of daily life.
- Simply Living - Sophelia of Sophelia's Adventures in Japan writes about her reluctance to tighten her budget after years of living in poverty, but also her anticipation of the pleasures of simplifying her daily life as she and her husband prepare to adopt a child in Japan.
- The Simple Life: A Work in Progress - Joella at Fine and Fair ponders her idealized vision of simple living and discusses the steps she's taking to get closer to it.
- Simple Living is Simply Living - At Living Peacefully with Children, Bart and Mandy hope to help their children focus on what is truly important by simply living.
- Happiness, not Greatness - Lauren at Hobo Mama discovered that ambitions got in the way of simply being.
- Shifting to Simplicity - At Authentic Parenting, Laura shares a couple of ways in which she tries to simplify her life.