I want to tell you a little story about what has been happening in my life lately. One of my dreams is to move out of the city and to the island my partner and I both grew up on. We crave the slower, simpler lifestyle and the deeper connection with the natural world that comes with living in a place like this.
Our original plan was to stay in the city for a couple more years, saving up until we would be able to move. Then, a couple months ago, I had the idea of making a half-way move and renovating the small, rustic studio on the property of one of our family homes. We would live there a few days a week, and then commute to the city to work, before we could afford a place to call our own. This seemed like a fun adventure without too much commitment.
I believe strongly in ensuring that perfection doesn’t get in the way of good enough. I am constantly trying to think about the life I want in the future and find ways to integrate aspects of that feeling and vision into my life now. So I figured, this would be a fun way to do that.
Then Covid happened, and we decided the best way for us to social distance and also ensure we were close enough to elderly family to take care of them should anything go awry, was to move to the island now and live with family. The plans of renovating the studio were suddenly unfolding – although the job is a much bigger and more lengthier process than we had originally imagined (I’ll spare you the details on this one).
Now, instead of a fun project, it has felt like a looming deadline. We’ve put pressure on ourselves to make it happen as quickly as possible so we can move out of the main house. It’s felt like a black and white decision – do we move to the island or stay in the city, and if we finish the studio, somehow that decision seems firm.
And yet – nothing about the plan itself has actually changed. But the circumstances have turned what was once a fun project idea and an adventure in rustic living, to an urgent stressor.
My partner and I realized this the other day in a conversation we were having on a walk in the woods. We had taken something that felt light and joyful and turned it on its head into something ominous. And this transition had happened so quickly without us even realizing this shift had occurred.
It made me wonder how much this happens in my life, that something goes from “I want” to “I should” without me even knowing. Or something changes from joy to stress. How often do I take a creative vision that I was once excited about and turn it into a project with an entirely different tone and set of expectations?
Probably, a lot. It’s like I’m addicted to this way of being that I’ve grown up learning – that I should feel stressed, overworked, and under pressure all the time in order to be “productive” and “successful”. And it seems, at times, that I take situations that could differ from that norm and transform them to fit into that same box.
Now that I’ve been pondering this, I’ve noticed how I do this with work projects too. I take a fun, creative idea for my business that I love and turn it into a looming deadline that causes me stress.
Having noticed this, on my journey to slowing down and simplifying my life, and finding a home in myself, I want to invite joy back in. I want to begin noticing where I am putting completely unnecessary expectations on myself, where I am taking something beautiful and turning it into something stressful? Where I am creating more pressure where there can be freedom instead?
Does this experience resonate with you? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below.