Oh boy oh boy.
A dear Facebook friend just sent me this awesome article.
The gist of the post is simply this: what if I don’t want to make an impact/achieve more/be excellent/conquer the world?
What if I just want to live…quietly, simply, calmly, as I am?
Is that “good enough?” Is it okay? Will I regret it….someday?
While the author of the post describes a life lived in this way – without big fanfare, summit-level accomplishments, society-shifting entrepreneurship – as “mediocre,” I would prefer to call it “sufficient.”
As in, instead of giving my all for these few things, I can give a little of me in a lot of places.
In exchange, instead of needing all of my returns to come from those same few places, I can get a little back in so many different ways.
Don’t misunderstand – I think there is merit in both – in all – kinds of lives, including the big public lives, the quiet private lives, and those lived in between.
But what has tended to go missing, in my life at least, is the recognition that I get to choose.
You get to choose.
We get to choose.
It is not about missing out by not “going big or going home,” as the post author describes.
It is about not missing out on doing what feels right on a day to day basis, or on a deep, gut, intuitive level, by assuming that “going big or going home” is the only worthwhile life choice to make.
We aren’t all meant to live at that level. We aren’t all needed at that level.
Some of us might be needed for short amounts of time at that level, with long stretches in between (thank goodness!) to rest and recharge from the thin air and high stress of existing in that type of high stakes upper stratosphere.
Some of us might be needed for longer amounts of time at that level, after which we may or may not ever return to live and serve there again.
Some of us might never be needed at that level, but those at that level will surely need us to help them recuperate and replenish when they return!
To my eyes and ears, what the author of this post really seems to be asking is:
“Is it okay to seek sufficiency on a very personal, private (what she calls “small”) level rather than pursue achievement (or over-achievement) on a big public level, just because I can and that chance is there?”
Here again, I would submit, the answer is ours to give because the life we are asking about is also ours – and only ours – to live.
In the post, the author describes her life preferences as “limitations,” which is a perfectly okay word to use if that is how she sees them.
As for me, I tend more to see my life preferences as gifts from my inner wisdom, as in the message is getting through to me that I should not try to be or do something I am not really wired or gifted to be or do.
Instead, it is perfectly fine to simply be me, to do what I do well, and leave all the rest of that big world-changing stuff to those who are better equipped or simply more inclined.
I have to say – for many years, I did want, or think I wanted at least, that big public life. I guess that is why this post so resonated with me (and perhaps it is also why my friend sent it to me).
For short spurts of time, I had glimpses of it, a life beyond my own introverted and privacy-seeking boundaries, like when I was recording music and winning national songwriting contests, or when I founded a nonprofit that ended up making an international impact.
But those weren’t the times in my life when I felt the most like “me.” Those actually felt kind of like out-of-body experiences, moments when I felt asked or called or simply compelled to reach beyond my personal, individual comfort zone to connect at some greater level.
They were great mentors – those more public “big life” times. I learned a LOT and I wouldn’t trade them.
I also don’t miss them.
Today, right now, I live a very quiet, private life. I share my teensy casa with three tiny dinosaurs (a parrot and two turtles) and I share my life with my family, my boyfriend and a handful of very close heart friends.
This feels like “me” – the real me – the me I am most suited and best equipped to be. It is my “sufficiency sweet spot,” to reference “The Soul of Money” author Lynne Twist, aka my sufficiency mentor for this year.
But I have to say, it also really helped me to read the post and realize I’m not the only one who contemplates these types of dilemmas. What if I’m missing out? What if I get to the end of my life and wish I had made different choices about how I spent my time?
I think we owe it to ourselves to ask ourselves these questions periodically, just to make sure they get asked while we still have the option of a course-correct, if such a thing seems to be in order.
Today’s Takeaway: Do you ever wonder if the way you are living, what you are doing, how you are as a human being is “enough?” Do you sometimes contemplate making changes? If you did make changes, what kind of changes would you potentially like to make? How do you think making those changes might increase your enjoyment and satisfaction of living as “you” – or would they?