About a decade after I graduated from college, I sat down with an old mentor of mine for coffee. In reminiscing about the “good old days,” and how much I’d changed since then, he laughed and commented, “Yeah, you were a little crazy back then! I don’t think you ever slept. You were so busy!”
We shared a laugh and moved on — and I saved that in my memory as evidence of how I’d matured since college. I laughed again today when I thought about that memory, because honestly, if you looked at my life now, I don’t think you would be able to find evidence that much has changed with regard to my overcommitment.
I’m parenting three full-time, sports-involved kids, I’m on two committees at my children’s school, I run my own business (which is especially time-consuming during the holidays), I co-lead a women’s discussion group weekly, I volunteer on the alumni recruitment committee for my alma mater, I train for long races and run multiple times a week, I’m an active member of three different moms groups, I write for Boston Moms, I’m in two book clubs, and I run our household without any external help (also a full-time job). I rarely go to bed before midnight, and I’m up every morning by 6:30. Even COVID hasn’t been able to slow me down; I now just hop from Zoom call to Zoom call!
And most days, I love my life.
Sure, it’s not college, where I double majored, double minored, and lived on caffeine and four hours of sleep a night. But it’s still pretty busy. Driving to school pickup today, running late because I was once again rushing from one thing to the next, I wondered: Am I doing it all wrong?!
Was my college professor right — that I was crazy and didn’t actually know how to rest? (True, when I was in college.) Am I still like that overachieving college student who used busyness to avoid dealing with emotions and grief, and ultimately myself? Is my busyness because I’m running away from something? Or because I legitimately find life in staying busy?
Honestly, I think it’s a little bit of both.
Yes, there are many things I could learn about rest. Many ways I could press more into being the “woman with peace in her presence” — meaning, so comfortable in my own skin that I make others more comfortable in their own — that I decided long ago I wanted to be. And yes, there is a value to saying no that I don’t always practice. Balance is important, and I don’t want to be so busy that I miss out on the ordinary beauty in our day-to-day lives.
Yet, at the same time, I do actually find joy in (virtually) being with people. It is restful for my soul to lead groups of people in common pursuits. My body rests well when I run, more so than when I sit still. Learning and participating feeds my curiosity and opens my mind. And I feel most alive when I am involved, creating, and participating in the spheres of life we are in!
Maybe I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie. Maybe there is wisdom in slowing down sometimes — not taking on as many things. But my slowing down looks different than, say, my husband’s does. Mine looks like saying no to things that are not life-giving and saying yes to things that are — not necessarily doing less. I’ve realized in my “old age” that sometimes people are wired differently, and there is no prescription for happiness.
Right now, yes, I need to slow down a little bit. But I also need to give myself grace that a full life is actually something I enjoy, too! And rather than just dropping everything, I need to be more intentional about asking, “What is life-giving?” and doing that instead.
We all need balance.
We all need to know ourselves and know where we go when we want to escape and what fuels us in healthier directions. And give ourselves grace, that that might change over time and through life circumstances.
So, mama, you do you. Listen to your body and your soul and figure out what brings life to it — and do that. Don’t use busyness or rest or anything else to run away from or avoid things. Instead, find your balance. Find your rest. Find your joy. And stop worrying about how other people find theirs.