I have felt my heart shifting for a while now.
As a single person and for most of my married life, I have stacked fun experiences and friendships and travel on top of each other so tightly that I left little to no room to rest. After graduating from college having studied the craft I loved and holding a degree in Journalism, I rarely wrote for myself, using up all my words in verbal processing with others and leaving no space for quiet contemplation. In my most recent years, I lived at the break-neck pace of New York City, simultaneously loving and hating the incessant rush and excitement of this urban life. There is always something new to experience and someone new to meet. There are a million ways to fill my time.
Last spring I made a major shift towards living a different kind of life, and I can hardly believe a year has passed. More strongly than ever, I find myself wanting more time alone with my thoughts, pushing through the uncomfortable silence to find what was buried underneath the busyness of my life. I want more weeknights at home for the simple things like tidying up the apartment or reading a novel and even indulging in watching “my” TV shows. I can not tell if I am getting more in touch with my introverted side as I have allowed myself to write more often, or if I am just being more realistic about my energy reserves as an adult approaching thirty.
I am practicing saying “no” more often.
But it does not necessarily seem to be getting any easier. I am still an extrovert fueled by stimulating conversation and activity. I still have the fear of disappointing people I respect or love by making more room in my life to choose myself first. There is an identity box I have constructed for myself that says, “You have always been this way, so don’t bother trying to live another way. It will only make you uncomfortable.”
Even as I breathe more freely, living my days with more emotional and creative space, I catch that sneaky inner voice telling me that I am cheating. The voice tells me I am not supposed to be living this life yet, that I need to also be a mother in order justify pursuing my dreams as a writer. The voice says I need to make more money and I must trudge off to a 9 to 5 in order to truly value my time and talent during this waiting period of my life.
Sometimes I think “What am I really doing?” I feel like a weird artistic outsider in a town of high-earning young urban professionals. On the days when those negative internal voices are shouting at me, I can find myself dreading happy hours where I might meet someone new and have to explain how I spend my days. It does not sound impressive or intriguing when I hear myself explain it. It sounds small and simple, but living my life this way brings me so much joy.
When I think about the way I have lived the last year (and particularly the last few months working part-time) there is no doubt that my soul has been able to breathe more freely. I have been more present and connected in my relationship with God, in my marriage, and in my conversations with friends. I feel more awake, more alive, and more in tune.
I feel like me.
As I consider what lies ahead and what I will do this summer as my current contract job comes to a close, I am afraid to lose that. I am asking myself what kind of work I want to do and weighing all the pros and cons. I know at my core that I do not want to sacrifice living a life that aligns with my values on the altar of more more more. I do not want the driving force behind my decisions to be out of fear and scarcity. Because the truth is, I have enough.