Recently I have been chasing my tail. I’ve woken in the middle of almost every night for the last three and a half months going through tomorrow’s to do list. Even if I did a meditation that night to clear my mind. I have written hour-long work emails at 2am and hidden tears of exhaustion at work more than once. It’s not pretty nor clever, but there is something obsessive about chasing my tail. I’ve carried that invisible weight of work as if it somehow makes me more worthy and the responsibility to the team even more so. I’ve been doing all that has been asked of me, letting it go each night, but brandishing it like a flag of honour each day. I’ve worked long days and worn every hour on my face, heart and spirit. In truth, I have worked longer hours for longer stints than this. But the challenge this time has been very personal.
It’s an old, hard-wired pattern at which I have to keep chipping away. It’s a cycle that, once started, gathers a momentum that takes all mindfulness to stop. I’ve handled it better than I would have done in the past. On some days, the stress hasn’t sunk deeper than skin and it bobbed around me like rippling waves. My core has stayed intact and my ground firm. On other days, the reins have been loosened and I have ebbed and flowed into ridiculous conversations and mismanagement. I’ve felt stripped of everything I want to embody and too bogged down to fight. And therein lies the challenge.
In the past, I have defined myself by the day-to-day. I have been whoever I was that day and whatever that day brought. I have been the mistakes made and the successes achieved, the processes unravelled and the collaborative conclusions gained. I thought more of the bigger picture for my employers than for myself and lived almost entirely reactively. Nowadays, I define my spirit by who I am. What fires me up and where I am headed. I try to take all the good I can from each opportunity and let go of all that will not serve me in the long run.
In the main, I am better at it and I had a different picture to hold myself accountable to this time. My own bigger picture of ambition, goals and priorities. So I’ve dragged myself out of bed to do yoga each morning, more often than not. I’ve tried not to whinge for more than half an hour upon entering back into the house each night.I’ve tried to carve out moments in the day to top myself up with my kind of sanity checks.
And here comes the epiphany. To me, what I have done is special. But there has been no thanks except for two emails. And that’s where the truth lies. To step up and do something beyond the norm can never be for anyone else but you. You can’t do it for the thanks or acknowledgement. You can’t compromise hours of your life to further a cause to curry favour. You can only endure harder times or withstand extra pressures if you are clear on what you are contributing to: either greater causes in which you believe, greater movements with which you identify or core principles around which you choose to revolve.
So for all the topsy-turvy, roller coaster, up-ending and downtrodden moments of the last quarter of a year, this is me growing. This is me grateful that I am now getting better at not being wagged by the tail so much, not chasing an endlessly unattainable something. I’m not perfect and it hasn’t been easy but it’s reminded me of how important it is to set your idea of success around yourself, instead of any external factors. There’s been no glory, no ceremony, no recompense but, for the first time in my life, I don’t need it. For the first time in my life, I am proud regardless. May this mark the tail end of that life phase and the beginning of exciting new horizons.