It’s easier than ever to glimpse into other people’s lives and make assumptions about what they own, what they’ve achieved, the kind of life they’re living, and make vast statements about ourselves in the process about how we don’t measure up. Owing to this pressure, which I’ve written about before, we always seem to be in such a rush to experience life and cram in as much as possible in a short space of time.
I mean, hear me right here – there’s nothing inherently wrong with this. It’s good to have desires, ambitions, and goals to work toward within a certain time limit. The “life’s too short” mentality isn’t a bad thing as it allows us to live our best lives. But, sometimes, we can try to do too much; try to prove too much to other people and ourselves in the process. Prove that we’re not wasting our lives, prove that we can make our dreams come true, prove that we haven’t missed any opportunities. In the process of this proving, we try to convince ourselves that we’re only trying to prove these things to ourselves but…really…are you sure? Or is it your parents you’re trying to prove your life’s worth to? Perhaps it’s an ex-partner? Or a current one? Maybe it’s your friends, or even the bully years ago who made you feel inferior? The voice that is within our minds, telling us to prove ourselves, is often not our own and is the voice of the above…
Anyway, before I go off on a complete tangent, I feel that sometimes we can put immense pressure on ourselves to really “live” our lives. We want to do everything right first time because mistakes = loss of time and a loss of opportunities. (As I write this I’m thinking ‘maybe it’s just me’ but I know that there are fellow perfectionists out there who are nodding furiously.) Within this mind set, we run the risk of rushing things and failing to fully enjoy the present moments because we’re always thinking of the next achievement, the next travel destination, the next career move, the next personal best…And, even when we achieve these things, or reach that travel destination, or earn that promotion, we can berate ourselves for ‘taking too long’ or ‘not doing it to the best of our ability.’ We have a background of stress, like a constant buzzing of white noise, which can tarnish these achievements because we didn’t achieve it when we would have liked to/in the time that we wanted to/the way we imagined we would/before so-and-so did.
I think the root of these things is fear; it’s not difficult nowadays to imagine life like a competition when we’re so openly exposed to the (filtered and carefully selected) realities of other people through social media. So, we try and achieve things to prove to others our ability, as aforementioned. Or we fear that life is passing us by too quickly and we’re not making the most of it. Or we’re terrified of the apparent cut off date of 30 (fellow 20 year olds, you fucking know.) Or we feel that we have potential we are wasting. What ensues is that we try and cram everything in, we burn the candle at both ends, and what we initially set out to bring joy to our lives is tarnished by the fact that we are spreading ourselves too thin. For example, I want to learn French, work out 5 times a week in the gym, get better at running, and also pick up painting again. Believe me, I’m dumb enough to have tried to do all this because I want to fulfil my potential but there is no way that I am physically able to do all this at the same time. Especially on top of catching up with friends, visiting my family, and spending quality time with my husband. What happens is that I give only 20% of myself here, 30% of myself there, another 10% somewhere else…rather than picking something and deciding to give it my all. Then, I end up kicking myself for not being able to give more of myself. And because I’m failing to see progress in any of these things (because I’m unable to give the adequate amount of time to each pursuit), I give up on everything altogether and just think I’m…well…shit. You see what I’m saying?
For a start, our lives should not be based on fear but upon love. Yeah, I know it sounds massively cliché but there is truth in it. We should be doing things because we love them, because we love life itself, because we love ourselves; the latter of which involves being patient with ourselves, kind to ourselves, and honouring our time wisely as opposed to welcoming unnecessary stress.
Put simply – Life is a marathon, not a sprint.
Speaking of running…I was out the other day and I saw that the Daffodils were starting to sprout shoots in preparation for March when they would come to full bloom. It made me think about how flowers don’t bloom at the same time but their time to flourish differs from flower to flower, depending on the time of year.
The flower doesn’t rush to bloom, see. She waits patiently and takes her time because she trusts in the process of growth and development; because she trusts that, in the end, it will be worth it and she will be radiant in her final bloom. So she is busy setting her roots, carefully forming the foundations for her life to flourish, and then she slowly starts to reach up and up and up…until she breaks the surface of the earth. Still, she does not release her petals immediately but, still, she waits. This growth isn’t a quick process and, even when it seems like there is nothing going on, she is investing her entire self into growing slowly, slowly, slowly…Each stage of growth is so important because, when she comes into full bloom, she will be strong, and glorious, and be able to fully enjoy her season with maximum chance of survival.
The flower doesn’t look at others in their stage of growth and think “Shit! I need to hurry up!” Neither does she congratulate herself and berate others when she seems to be ahead of her growth. She is far too busy focussing on herself, her own journey, her own achievements at each stage, understanding that each life is different and each flower is on their own journey, doing what they can with the strength that they have. She owns the space where she has been planted, confidently and quietly, and at the right time she displays her petals to share with the world and enjoy for herself.
Each flower blooms according to the season that they were supposed to bloom in – some are so strong that they are able to withstand the frosty winters and ice-bitten winds, whilst others are so delicate that Spring is the best time they are able to display their glory in a gentle breeze. Should the flowers bloom at the same time in one season, it would be a beautiful sight to behold but the earth would be barren for the rest of the year. Blooming when they do allows for maximum chance of survival as the eco-system is able to pace itself. It allows them to be pollinate at the right time, in the right place, in order to continue to flourish the following year…
We can learn a lot from the flower. In pacing ourselves, in trusting ourselves and the process of our lives, in loving ourselves and being confident in our choices, we are able to invest 100% of ourselves in our achievements and goals. We are able to experience life at a wonderful pace, truly absorbing all the beauty and joy of the world around us, delighting in our achievements, and marvelling at what we are capable of when we truly invest ourselves in a sole pursuit. Moreover, in doing so, we allow for the opportunity to sustain life around us, in keeping with the natural rhythm of the world around us, and allowing for the opportunity to multiply our dreams, noticing the opportunities that naturally come when we pursue a single goal.
It’s time we stopped living in fear, stopped with the perfectionist traits, and started to be confident in blooming when we are ready, when we are able to have maximum chance to sustain and experience life fully for months at a time, instead of moments before we quickly move on. Where we are confident enough to pace ourselves and bring our special beauty, our essence, to the world when we see fit to do so. When we don’t compare our accomplishments to others and berate ourselves for not doing things quicker, or better. Where we spend time laying the foundations and working on our own growth, even if the results don’t show immediately. Don’t worry about when other’s bloom – that’s their time. Your time is coming – just work on your own life and prepare in your own time, in your own strength, and your own abilities.
This is more than just blooming where you are planted; this is blooming when the time is perfect for you.