As much as I’d like to believe – and make you believe – that I live for others, if I really sit back and put myself under a microscope, I spend a lot of time worrying about me. I fret over my workout plans; having a quiet space to read; accomplishing the lists of self-generated tasks. I want people and things to fit into my boxes of time and space.
Originally, I drafted a line in this post that I was selfish. Perhaps that statement was the most accurate, and erasing it was my feeble attempt of reframing my own narrative.
I think there’s another quality at play: inflexibility.
I live for structure, order, and efficiency. Some of my fellow YNPN Triangle NC board members have teased me for using such nonprofit colloquialisms as “respect the agenda’ (and rightfully so at times). There comes a point where the desire to have boundaries butts up against…well, you know..other peoples’ feelings, lives, cultures, norms, etc. It becomes an agent of paralysis. It becomes a tool of power that I wield, losing the opportunity to stretch and grow because of my own: “my way or the highway” approach.
During my mindfulness journey, I am actively reflecting on what drives this need. Both of my parents adhere to similar structures in their lives. I recognize, too, that inflexibility is a value of white supremacy tool. It’s much easier to maintain control and privilege when you get to call the shots based on your life, rather than taking into account the experiences and values of others.
This isn’t a complete cast-off of structure. Instead, it’s my hope to de-emphasize how much I allow my inflexibility to impact my decisions, my relationships, and my happiness. Because that’s a huge part of it. As I force myself to adhere to my deeply-entrenched systems, I slowly erode my ability to take risks, be adaptable, and, most importantly to me, be open for something new and awesome and wonderful to enter my life – WITHOUT ME HAVING ANY CONTROL.
Terrifying and exhilarating.
I feel like Aaron faces the brunt of my inflexibility the most, and it saddens me as I reflect on how my hardheadedness to prioritize me may have closed the door on our chance to share a special moment in our relationship. Responses like “not now” and “in a few minutes” shut doors of opportunity that I can’t get back. I’m not saying that anytime Aaron or anyone else says jump, my immediate response will be “how high?” Instead, I will continue to improve on strengthening my own internal check of asking “why?”and more importantly:
Routines will still be a part of who I am. Yes, I like to work out in the morning because this is when I’m most awake and eager.
I will still strive to respect the agenda and ensure that there is adequate space given to foster collaboration and curiosity.
I need quiet spaces to get lost in a book and I won’t use this as an excuse to justify not spending time sharing stories with my partner.
I will remain excited about the countless options to fill my weekends and I will allow the weekend to approach before filling my calendar to the brim.
I like to be a part of meetings that have a clear, defined purpose and I will laugh along with my colleagues even if it means a slight derailment.
I’m naming this challenge that is woven into me. I’m calling it out on the Internet (and, as you all know, everything is true on the Internet).
After spending the past few days in Portland for our national Young Nonprofit Professionals Network conference, I have been off-schedule with my mindfulness practice. But, I know that’s ok. It can start anew tomorrow, without guilt.
At 5:05am of course (I’m kidding…I hope).