When I moved into my first apartment and put that one key on my empty key ring, I remember thinking, “Oh man, I’m an adult now. Pretty soon, I’ll have lots of keys to lots of doors.” For some reason, having keys meant being grown and important and responsible and in charge.
Yeah, I know…humans are incredible meaning making machines.
Anyway, later, I leapt from keys to piling on lots of work and commitments so that I felt busy and important and in charge. To some degree, it worked. With each commitment fulfilled, people counted on me more. Asked me to do more. It felt good: being in demand. Plus I was growing and learning. It was symbiotic.
Then came motherhood. There is nothing like a 24/7 job that demands ALL your attention. I realized that I couldn’t do that job without taking care of me. I had to get sleep. I had to curb work. I had to replenish myself every day so that I could be a better human for my daughter. Gradually, that self care became the center piece of my life. It still is. Twenty two years later.
Yes, I’m still busy. Sometimes over committed. This week, I taught three entirely separate classes. I kept drafting my novel. I put food in my fridge, worked out and went to a doctor’s appointment. And I went to my day job. It was a lot. I feel tired. Maybe a bit too much. But here’s the deal: whenever I say: ‘I have so much to do’ or ‘I have too much to do.’ I always ask myself: Are you doing everything you want to do? Are you fulfilled? Happy? As long as I say yes, I’m good.
But I keep an eye on the key chain. I don’t need to fill it to feel important anymore.