Last month my friend Steve sent me a note in which he invoked S&G's famous lyric, "Slow down, you move too fast. You've got to make the good times last." I love imagining Steve crooning "Feeling Groovy..." Those who know Steve will appreciate that image! Hi Steve! But I digress. I bring this up only because Steve is one of many people who recently have told me I am trying to do too much, too fast, and that I need to slow down. In fact, I just got a comment this morning on my blog from my friend Jeff who cried Stop, Stop, Stop! It took me off guard. Stop? But it was just a swim meet!
I have always been a person who wanted to do everything. Even when I was young it seemed that life whizzed by, and I only had so long to master the plethora of things that seemed interesting to me. In high school I danced on the American Ballet East Corp--which included doing jazz, tap, and (of course) ballet, I swam on the H.S. team, I was really into drama and acted in and directed plays, I played French Horn, trumpet and piano, I was on the student council, and I was extremely social and a huge flirt. (Yes, boys CAN be a hobby...) Yep, even then I did too much. But back then, though I struggled hugely with self confidence, I remember feeling quite sure that I was actually quite good at what I chose to do. I wasn't the best dancer, but I had made it onto the corp and danced the best parts each year in The Nutcracker, I wasn't the best French Hornest, but I was second chair, I wasn't the best swimmer, but I made it to States each year, and I think I actually did believe I was the best actress! and so on....
But as I've gotten older I've wanted to master the things I take on. It's not enough to just do what seems interesting and have fun with it, believing that I am quite good and that being quite good is good enough.
Since my early 20's:
- It's not good enough to just run, I must run marathons and qualify for Boston
- It's not good enough to love to read, I must get a doctorate in English from a prestigious university.
- It's not good enough to like flowers, and to garden, I must be a master in horticulture, and know the common and Latin name for every cultivated flower, wildflower, and tree.
- It's not good enough to write, I must publish.
- It's not good enough to swim in a Masters meet, I need to be at the top of my AG.
- It's not good enough to practice yoga, I must be able to do Firefly pose.
- It's not good enough to be a triathlete, I have to do an Ironman.
- It's not good enough to do an Ironman, I have to make it to Kona and be ranked in the top 1% of my AG nationally.
and then a few more kickers:
- It's not good enough to be a parent with good kids. I must be a parent who has done everything right by her kids, including correcting my daughter's amblyopia, my son's ADHD.
- It' s not good enough to have a nice house. That house has to be clean and tidy, tastefully decorated and filled with books and art and cooking supplies and no TV.
- It's not good enough to have sweet puppies. I must walk them1.5 hours a day and make them totally well-behaved and make sure I clean up every piece of shit they leave in the yard.
and most horrible and annoying and pathetic of all:
- It's not good enough that I am fit and lucid and healthy at 40. I must be hot, desired by men and sought after for friendship by women. I must be stronger than you, wiser than you, wittier than you, and more realized than you. I must be. Or I am...
not of worth.
(I can hear Alina in the background chanting, I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and Gosh Darn It! People like me!)
It doesn't end. And though it is hyperbolic to even think it, I feel tortured. And to be perfectly frank, I am unsure how to get out of this self-inflicted prison cell.
So -- I see it. I see that I need to slow down, that I move too fast. That I am not even SEEING the good times let allowing trying to make them last. But it's not that easy to let go. Because If I do, will I be a shadow of this self I have worked so f-ing hard to create?
I am heavier, slower and less motivated than I have been for a very very long time. If I give in; if I just make some pigs-in-a-blanket and eat them all in one sitting--will it be all over for me?
Or will it just be the beginning?
Anyway, I'm too scared to find out.