A few weeks ago my husband made a comment as I was dabbing on concealer under my eyes after a particularly fitful night. That comment proved to be the inspiration for Tuesday’s article, The War Paint of the 21st century
That article was simultaneously one of the easiest and hardest articles I’ve ever written.
It was easy because it flowed so naturally. I am so accustomed to keeping all the balls in the air, so acquainted with friends who work overtime to squeeze it all in, that I had no problems finding examples to insert into the piece. The words flowed easily, almost of their own accord. It’s not difficult to write about something with which one is intimately acquainted.
Yet it was hard to write because it was so easy.
I hate how oversaturated we’ve become. I can’t stand how people fill up their schedules to the point of absurdity. It so saddens me to know how rare it is to know one’s neighbors, how even rarer it is to have friends you can pop in on unannounced.
How did we get this way?
When did it become acceptable to subsist off of coffee and fast food? How is it okay to not have friends with whom you can be real? Why is it such a faux pas to say “no?” Why is it looked down on if you try to prioritize what you need?
To some degree, I suppose I already know the answer.
We are born with an innate desire to not be left out, to experience whatever there is to be experienced. As technology has expanded our world, it has also expanded the number of things available for us to experience. We don’t want to miss out on something important, and so we try to say yes to everything.
FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is a very real thing.
At the same time, many of us have things – causes, people, etc – that we care deeply about. When an opportunity comes up to do something for one of those things that we care about, we have an even harder time saying no.
I’m struggling with this even as I’m writing this piece.
I have a dinner with my grandmother, visit with my brother, soccer game with a dear friend’s son, game day with other dear friends, and several other things all vying for my attention. That’s all just in the next three days.
They are all good, worthy things with people I care deeply about.
But, as someone once told me when I first started college, you can do anything you want…but you can’t do everything.
If you try to commit to everything, to say yes to every request that is made of you, you will end up unable to fully engage in anything.
You will become ragged and unhappy, snapping in frustration at the people you care about most. It doesn’t really matter how many things you do, how many people you know, or how many social clubs you commit to. What matters is how many things you do well, how many people you love well.
As I said before, I’m preaching to myself here as much as anyone else. It’s astonishing how easy it is to get bogged down in the expectations that are constantly thrown at us.
Yet it is also astonishing how freeing it is to be the manager of your own time.
It’s incredibly refreshing to be able to prioritize what you need, rather than the needs of everyone around you.
Many people shy away from prioritizing their needs. It feels selfish and uncharitable to them.
In reality, though, it is one of the most generous things you can do. It is only when you are coming from a place of wholeness and rest that you can truly pour into others without pretext or expectation.
It’s time to take off the war paint, rest, and learn to say no to most things so that we can say yes to the things that really matter.