This morning before joining my team on the beach for our playoff game (we lost *sniff*), I went on a walk down the pier and just simply looked at the ocean. It was a cloudy day, and the stratocumulous and stratus streaks in the sky created a beautifully dappled water view that was complimented by the occasional peak of golden sun dancing across the lazy waves.
Headphones in, I simply sat and admired the view for a long moment before walking back down the pier with slow steps and a small, just-for-me smile. It was such a simple, small, insignificant-in-the-scheme-of-things moment, yet it was perfect.
Lately, I’ve been having quite a bit of those moments. I’ve felt a lot happier and more carefree for the past week or so than I have felt for a long time. While I am not at the point of complete Hakuna Matata, upon reflection, there are several things that I feel have contributed to this carefree newfound happiness.
Settling in. I have now been at my new work site for 12 weeks. At the beginning, it was a super rough start because of teaching three different grade levels, not knowing anyone, and putting my foot in my mouth seemingly every time I tried to make a move at the school. Now, however, I have a pretty good handle on what I’m teaching, I have made several friends, and I’ve become more accustomed to the odd politics that swirl around the staff. In short, I’m not longer wearing sunglasses in a dark alleyway.
Entering a new situation, whether it be a move, a job, a relationship, or what have you, is always stressful in the beginning. If you are an A type personality like me, it can be excruciatingly painful to flounder around in the shallows when you are used to swiftly beelining in the deep end. However, I am a firm believer in putting myself in uncomfortable situations for the purpose of growth. There is no way to improve your game past a certain point if the playing field and the players never changes. Therefore, discomfort is a necessity.
Acceptance. I have been in a constant struggle with my body for years. Not that I am overweight by any stretch of the imagination, but like any female who lives in a state with 365 days of beach season, I have a very specific image of what I want to look like when I slip on my itsy bitsy bikini, and 99.9% of the time, I fall short of this picture. There have been several times when I have reached a point where I am aaaaalmost there, but inevitably something will happen that causes a huge wave of stress in my life, which causes the tremulous hope of achieving said specific look to come crashing down.
Obviously, this sucks. However, lately I have been giving myself more of break. In comparison to a fitness model, I am not 1/10th as impressive or in shape. However, compared to anybody else, I am doing pretty well. Obviously, I don’t want to set the bar super low just to make myself feel better, but for the past couple of weeks I have stopped beating myself up for every little slip up. Usually, if eat more than I should or have a drink when I should just pass it up, I mentally pummel myself about it and feel like a giant failure. Now, I simply acknowledge that that probably wasn’t the best choice, and then simply… let it go. Oddly enough, I think it has helped me start to get closer to my ideal shape.
When we beat ourselves up for every little failure, we can hardly even enjoy the victories we do have because we are focusing on how far we still have to go rather than how far we’ve come. I am in no way saying that we should settle into a life of contentment with average and pat ourselves on the back for every mundane “accomplishment”. However, there is sometimes something to be said for making the journey towards your goal the focus rather than the shining, ever-so-far-away end target.
Release from self-imposed obligation. I have a lot of goals that I want to accomplish, but if I am honest with myself, some of them are goals that I FEEL I should strive for and not my actual personal ambitions. This leads to me put certain things on my to do list because I feel obligated to do them, not out of actual enjoyment or because of some true deeper desire to fully hit that target. Usually, I end up not doing these things and then I get down on myself for not hustling hard enough, or not putting in enough effort, or for doing other things with my time rather than shoving my nose to the grindstone.
Lately, though, I’ve let myself fully enjoy the things that I like doing and not really care when I don’t get everything in that I planned out. I’ve noticed that ever since I’ve let myself off the hook with a lot of things, I am gravitating more towards actually doing them. In other words, when it’s not a big scary duty, it’s actually something I want to do. Who woulda thought?
Overall, if you are striving to become better every day, allowing yourself to indulge in what truly makes you happy, keeping your mind and body healthy, and taking the time to wash yourself in the small, beautiful moments that pop up in your life, there is no way that you can’t be truly happy. Our life is so, so short, yet we tend to live like we have endless amounts of time to squander on beating ourselves down and wallowing in misery.
I say, take steps towards your ideal but leave the shackles of useless obligations and constant regret behind. Life is a journey, and in order to smell the roses you are going to have to deal with the thorns. You could try to eliminate all spikes before diving in, but that is both impossible and impractical. Deal with the pricks but put your main focus on indulging in the deep, rich, floral scent and feeling the smooth velvet against your skin. In the end, everyone’s last petal will fall, and only you will know if you spent the time basking in your moments of being a prince or wallowing in the few beast-like junctures you may have come across.
From now on, I chose to focus on royalty.