A friend of mine is anxiously looking for a new job, because she’s worried about getting laid off. She’s making job hunting her primary focus, and she’s putting everything else in her life – socializing, hobbies, traveling – on hold.
I can’t blame her for wanting to protect herself against possible job loss, but I can’t count the number of times she’s put her life on hold. There have been so many reasons: one health issue after another, periods of too much work and exhaustion, periods of too little work and stress about getting laid off, extra classes to round out her skill set, houseguests… Her life seems like an endless series of woes.
I’ve always felt such sympathy for my friend, but I now recognize something in her that I see in myself. Last year, I decided to devote extra time and energy to my work, so I took a break from my hula hālau (a school that includes the cultural and historical context of hula in its teaching). I was working on a big case, and I wanted to give it my full attention.
My case ended up getting delayed for reasons out of my control, and by the time I returned to my hula class, I had some catching up to do. In hindsight I know it really didn’t help my work to take time off from hula; all I did was deny myself some fun, learning, and time with people I like. And for all I know, I was probably a less interesting and more frustrated person while I was focusing only on my work.
When life gets chaotic and unpredictable, it can leave me feeling helpless. I try to impose order by controlling the flow and pace of my life, thinking that my life will be better and more easily managed if I do. I can’t reduce every day of my life to a science experiment with a control group and set variables. Of course I need to exercise some amount of control over my life to function as a competent adult, but too much control limits my growth and dulls the vibrancy of my life.
Learning to worry less is an ongoing effort, but I feel like I’m making progress, so I try not to worry about it.
©Living off Island, writingwahine, 2015.