We go to all sorts of lengths to prove ourselves, don’t we?
I have jumped through countless hoops, over the years, trying to prove that I am a good friend, despite moving to a foreign country.
I also used to kill myself working, subconsciously believing that unless it was painful to achieve, I didn’t deserve the money.
Ditto with weight loss—unless I was parading up and down the highest of mountains, breaking my back for hours, I wasn't trying hard enough.
It’s stunning, the pressure we put on ourselves. I remember going through a period of non-stop deadlines and overwhelm, getting clobbered by my to-do list—something I used to wear like a badge of honor—until one particularly frustrating day when I stopped to reflect and realized:
All of the deadlines and the pressure and the overwhelm was entirely self-inflicted.
It was as if I needed to continue to drown myself in activity in order to feel validated. Purposeful. Useful. Productive.
And you know what I think about that now? Fuck. That. The most useful things I’ve ever done were never on my to-do list in the first place. You know what they were?
They were listening.
And looking other people in the eye.
And taking lots of photographs.
And giving extra long hugs.
And coming up with the perfect gift.
And reading bedtime stories to my friends' children.
And spending a luxurious hour just thinking.
And remembering to smile at strangers.
And making others feel seen—especially those who are down and out.
And being the kind of person who lights up a room with her laughter.
And moves through the world light, happy and free.
All of that is a gift to the world. An important gift.
And yet, it is easy to do things the hard way, the punishing way, and use that to feel better about our contributions. We just love to play the martyr. The sufferer. The victim.
It is much harder, however, to be okay with easy. To believe that money doesn’t always come from effort, and friendship doesn’t always come from force, and the things we’ve earned, in this world, does not always come from labor.
Maybe easy isn’t so easy at all.
Maybe there is more wisdom in ease than we realize.