Opportunities vs. Obligations
I strive to give myself the gift of peace and spaciousness. I seek to complete only those tasks that are truly necessary. Freeing myself from the responsibility to do things simply because other people expect them. I am making space for the connections that fuel and fill my heart. I am focusing on reciprocity.
Perhaps you do this too? Where you work so hard to please others or to be “kind,” that you sometimes find yourself overstepping your boundaries. You realize suddenly you’re giving more than your fair share to projects, work, to social engagements. Involvement in clubs, groups, or events snowballs quickly. We are taken out of the moment, distracted with planning, orchestrating, and completing tasks. These obligations can keep us from being fully present.
Not every dinner or occasion deserves to be treated like a diplomatic engagement. Not every event requires choreographed time tables, speeches, and appropriate attire, decor, and entertainment. These are all unnecessary extras that keep us busy rather than give us the freedom to engage. We get caught up in minutia. “Is it time for cake?” “Does everyone have a plate?” “Are we out of ice?” that we completely miss the milestone events that we were hoping to celebrate in the first place.
I have lost countless birthday parties and luncheons in the ethos of control and making it so nice for everyone else that I forget to enjoy myself. One question that stops me in my tracks, “Did you have fun?” The question is so simple but if I truly reflect on the event – the decor and seating arrangements were lovely, the setting and scenery were beautiful, all of it was an exercise in elegance and loveliness. But did I have fun? Or was I sitting on pins and needles because I wanted to impress other people? By asking this question I am making the distinction between is this event an opportunity for fun or is it an obligation?
I have a new practice to conside first, if I am enjoying myself or if I am simply performing kindness because I wish to be perceived as kind. I no longer wish to engage in situations wherein I am not having fun. If I am not treated well or find the people who will be in attendance anything less than delightful, kind, or welcoming – I’ll simply stay home or find an alternative. It is sad to miss events where some of the people I like and admire will be present but I would much rather be true to myself and honest about what I’m feeling than put a mask on and pretend when truly I am uncomfortable and on edge.
Being excited to be somewhere and having a good time are two different things. I am grateful that I am learning the difference as I age. This way I am able to build and craft the life that I want. I have learned to put myself first and stop placing myself in uncomfortable or undesirable situations simply because it will make someone else happy. I have no interest in putting others first at a cost to myself. It is a new day and I am making time for me and mine, everything else is icing.