Is it just me, or is anyone else completely exhausted and burnt out by revelations? I mean the “wow, if I just believed X, I could really get better” or “if I start doing Y, then things will change for me” kind of epiphany that inspires purple prose-y blog posts (and will probably inspire some of my future posts).
Stay with me on this one.
I think that the pursuit of self-improvement is a good thing. I’m looking to improve myself. So are you (whoever you are), probably. And that’s just great! Hooray for us. But.
How much of my time is spent each day reading about getting better rather than, you know, actually doing the messy and hard work of getting better? Probably a lot. Probably too much.
And I know why. It’s because the thought of “better”, whatever that better might be, is–by definition–nicer than where I am right now. You know, that whole “grass is always greener” thing.
The future is typically pretty glamorous, when you parse it all out. I’ve mentioned before that in thinking about the future, no one ever really gets their kicks by thinking of all the ways that the future could be, hypothetically, a little more bleak than the present. Whatever is coming has to be better than what is occurring. Right? So sayeth the blogs!
I think I forget sometimes that “getting better” isn’t always pretty. It isn’t glamorous work. And no one is really rushing to do un-glamorous work, because there’s room for failure. There’s room for darkness. For negative. For “no”.
What I’m trying to say is that I’m really, really tired of devoting so much emotional headspace to self-improvement. I’m giving up so much of my energy to the pursuit of something rather than the actual process. … Which, when you think about it, seems a little counterproductive.
I realized this when I discovered a few days ago that I was doing something just for the sake of crossing it off my to-do list. So I could get to the end result. The future! Where I am BETTER (whatever that means).
Was I actually improving anything if I just rushed through it so I could tick a box?
Some tasks deserve to be rushed through, because they’re the kind of tasks you won’t do unless you make them A Thing™. I count root canals, filing your taxes, and going to the DMV among these sorts of tasks.
But “change your life” or “do a complete 180 with your attitude”–those things aren’t really the sorts of things that are accomplished by a checkmark or a strikethrough. As much as we’d like to rip the bandage off and say “we did it”, personal growth and emotional health are not quite that simple. They’re amorphous, free-flowing, intangible processes that change by the second. They’re completely dependent upon our current circumstances–where we are in that moment of life. Not the big picture. Not the entire person, but a single strand of hair on that person’s head. They’re tiny. So small you might miss them.
I have many more thoughts on The Big versus Little Picture and how those two views can be used in conjunction for massive personal growth. That’s for another time. This is not that post. It can’t be.
I don’t want to focus on “another time.” I don’t really want to think about “the next time.” There might not be a next time! … But there is a right now. I know there is because I am living it.
And while reading a thinkpiece from one of my favorite writers or reciting a Louise Hay affirmation every morning is awesome and great and may lead to ~self-actualization~ and the ~building of my dreams~… doing those things is nothing without some nitty-gritty hard work and potentially a big spoonful of failure.
That messy, difficult work comes in the present moment, not in the future. Here. Now. Right now!
There’s a place in the world for those epiphany blog posts. I’ve been in that place and I’m sure I’ll be back again. But right now? Nope.
I will focus on the moment I’m in, not the moment before me. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.