One of my New Year’s resolutions this past January was to practice more patience and compassion.
I intended it to mean that I would practice more patience and compassion with others. It’s a quality we might all work to improve in ourselves. It’s so easy to get pissed at someone who cuts us off on the sidewalk or to administer a death stare to someone who steals our spot in line at the bank. But it can only benefit us – emotionally, spiritually and probably karmically too – to wonder if that spot-stealer isn’t having a bad day herself and to throw a little compassion her way. Plus, you know how the old saying goes – Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die. (Or something like that. Don’t make me look it up. You get it.) So I’m working to practice more patience and compassion.
My recent staycation reminded me that I need to do the same for myself. Practice patience and compassion toward myself. It’s all interconnected really. My ability to forgive the angry businessman who shoves me aside on the sidewalk is directly related to my ability to forgive myself for being human too. Ah ha.
Oh how I loved my staycation. I love sun, I love to swim, I love to nest, I love to eat, I love to hang with my man, I love to drive around in a car, I love to visit with family and I love to shake up my routine. And as I’ve already told you, we did it all. Being away from the desk job for so many days was a little slice of heaven – it always is – and wearing ratty old shorts, tank tops and flip flops that have long since been chewed up by one dead cat who shall remain nameless, throwing my cash and my keys in my pocket, slapping on some sunblock and hitting the road every day was Just The Best. I am built for that kind of lifestyle. Maybe everyone is. It’s amazing how quickly I adapted to it, like I had no job to return to, like I hadn’t a care in the world but the day before me. And I felt so calm and it all made me more patient with myself.
While enjoying the lovely Fourth of July BBQ thrown by our friends Alex and Alyssa, I was chatting with my friend Mandy about being a young woman living in New York. She’d just recently returned from a trip down south for several months to perform a show, and she mentioned that coming back to city life was a bit shocking. It didn’t surprise me to hear that – this is a pace to which you have to adjust. It’s an acquired taste. She said, “When I got back I realized that we live a hard life here. This is a hard life.”
Now, it’s not really hard, especially not for those of us with jobs and homes. And she didn’t mean really truly life-threateningly difficult. But struggle is relative and the struggle through which most of us young New Yorkers with aspirations put ourselves can be very taxing. Hard. I don’t think that’s unique to New York, I’m sure there are go-getters around the country carving out tough little lives for themselves, but New York is what I know, so I’ll keep it to that for now.
Every minute of every day is usually packed to the gills for my friends and me. We carry huge bags filled with anything and everything imaginable, from yoga mats to running shoes to a change of clothes for the evening to a book for the train ride to a lunch we packed at home because everyone’s broke. And then we lug those bags from our apartment, up and down city blocks, up and down dozens and dozens of subway stairs and all around this city every single day. We usually have day jobs and night jobs and weekend jobs and when do you breathe? It’s not awful and it’s a choice we’ve all made, but it’s not easy.
And for me personally: I work full time, I’m a member of two comedy groups which each rehearse and perform twice a week, and I’m starting a new business. I could imagine any one of those things alone being enough to fill my life by itself. Forget that I’m also a formerly overweight person who hopes to exercise regularly. And that I’m also one half of a domestic partnership. Thank god I’m not a parent yet. I wouldn’t make it.
I know I’ve talked about all this before. Woe is me. Look how much I have to do. Eh. I try to quiet that voice in my head. Self pity will get me as far as the couch with a pint of ice cream, which is not a bad place to visit, but not somewhere I’d want to live. The point I’m hoping to make, however, is that with all the hats I wear, the only choice I have is to be compassionate with myself along the way.
I cannot spend my time fretting about how quickly or slowly the transition out of my desk job seems to be going. And I cannot spend my time wagging a finger at myself for skipping workouts on my staycation. And I cannot spend my time disliking my current station in life. And I cannot spend my time feeling guilty about how little I grocery shop. And I cannot spend my time being upset with myself for my long To Do list or my disorganized living room or my bathroom that won’t clean itself. What a silly waste of my precious time and energy – to give myself a hard time about any of it.
So I have to forcefully remind myself of these things: I’m working my butt off to get out of this desk job. And working my butt off doesn’t always have to mean working hard, but working smart. I’m doing it at my pace and on my own terms. I’ve also worked so incredibly hard over the last seven years to lose 115 pounds and then to successfully maintain that weight loss. To be anything but compassionate with myself for skipping a workout is such unnecessary white noise. I grocery shop when I can and at least I keep a To Do list. My intentions are genuine and the amount of time each week that I spend laying around doing nothing wouldn’t even fill a thimble. So GET OFF MY BACK, SELF. I am doing my very best. And that is not only enough, it is spectacular.
And when I realize all that, when I choose compassion, when I tell myself what I’d tell a good friend in the same situation, suddenly everything loosens and relaxes and I’m able to look around me and see how much I enjoy living in this city, performing comedy all the time, being an adult with an apartment and a bank account and a trim waistline, working hard to start a business that I love with a friend who I care about AND eating take out from time to time. And you know what else? Working at this desk job while I figure it all out, although not my dream come true, is pretty sweet most of the time. I can’t do it forever but I can do it for now. Plus, I’m technically getting paid to sit here and write this blog, today at least.
Most of the time, it doesn’t suck. None of it. Most of the time, it’s pretty much all-around great.
And even when it does suck, it’s just simpler to show myself some compassion. It’s good for my body and brain and it means I might also be nicer to jerks on the sidewalk. Even they deserve a little compassion.