Katie doesn’t have any experience with this topic—that’s why she’s opening up to all of you in hopes of learning more!
This is the article where I take a beat to re-examine my previous articles and if the information has either been applied to my own life or not applied. I always talk about application with my students. We learn new tricks and skills and refine previously learned ones every day, but if that information doesn't get applied to the finished product then what was the training for? That might sound a little harsh (and of course there will be days where we may fall short) but in the end, what is the point of all this "self-betterment" and "self-development" hoopla if not to actually apply it to your life right now? Another thing I talk about with my students is reflection. Always taking steps forward and never looking back may be a coveted mindset for some ready to take life by the horns, but you do really have to reflect on your past (long-term and short-term) so that the steps forward are purposeful and well-thought out. If not, the steps will be zigzagging you to a million different potential endpoints, but never truly where your heart wants to go.
So this is where I want to tell you a couple of examples where I have fallen short since writing these articles. Sharing my more embarrassing moments is NOT me trying to show you, "See, we all fall down sometimes..." NOR is it me trying to say, "Look, I still make mistakes and it's ok." It's me acknowledging and reflecting, publicly, that I could have done better in certain situations and here's what I wish I would have done. It's me trying to practice accountability. I wish I could be more aware of this accountability when it's not on my own accord so if you see me or know me personally, you have my permission to call me out in the moment!
Of course this will not be a completed list of my shortcomings. That might make this article a bit long, and quite frankly, I don't know if I'm mentally prepared to attack all of my moments of weakness. But starting with a few is still start.
I have had to remind myself to care less several times over the past few weeks. Based on my last article, Who Gives A Rats A$$, I have needed to check whether or not its been worth it to get upset. Admittedly, I have done pretty ok with that. Where I fell short is where it actually did matter. After a challenging week of "checking myself," I was mentally and emotionally exhausted. Finally once the weekend rolled around, I was looking forward to being home and not having to check myself. When I let my guard down, I snapped. I could totally identify what was happening but it was like I couldn't stop the words from spewing out. The dishes hadn't been done, the floors needed to be swept, the laundry was piling up, you know--the usual. I was huffing around making a big deal out of these chores that didn't get done through the week. I was making this situation all about me - literally taking it personally that the chores didn't get done. For a minute I thought, "If he [my husband] cared about my rest, he would have taken care of these chores for me." I feel like some of you may have had similar thoughts because I've heard you say similar things. Let's break this down a bit:
- Who gives a rat's a$$ if the chores are done? Do I care about the chores or do I actually care to make sure my family is clean, comfortable, and healthy? Trust me (and I'll bet this is true for your family, too) - they are all of those things plus more with a few dirty dishes in the sink.
- I am quick to place so much focus on my immediate needs and little on my husbands. I jumped to conclusions thinking my husband just "didn't care" about the housework that week. The truth is, he always does that stuff for me. This was the one time he didn't because he, too, had a difficult week. Instead of noticing all the times things were done and appreciating them, I noticed the one time things weren't done and I overreacted. It felt like crap acknowledging that and apologizing to him. In my article, Giving 100%...100% Of The Time, I talk about giving your all, all of the time, on a personal level. Now I am realizing I'd like to start appreciating this quality in my husband. I want to do a better job of recognize when he is giving 100% and when he needs to give less, or even more importantly, when he needs me to give more.
Like I said earlier, I could tell in the moment that I was spewing off nonsense that had nothing to do with the situation in front of me, and everything to do with me thinking the world owes me for spending the week trying to be a good person. I worked so hard - why doesn't anyone else work as hard? SELFISH SPEAK! My version of "hard" is not my neighbors version, or my colleagues version, or my husbands version of hard. Just because I choose my version of 'work hard' on something or many somethings doesn't mean everyone else isn't working as hard. I have to continue working on checking myself, even more at home. It's important to me to give my best self to my family and overreacting about dishes isn't apart of that plan. Additionally, I need to remember that while I try to care about what is within my capacity, the rest of the world is, too. I'm not going to get a cookie for keeping calm under pressure or handling a difficult conference well.
On to the next moment I am not proud of. (Boy, this fun...)
A close friend and I are both in similar places with our career paths. We both are in the process of finding longterm career choices that meet our needs and desires. The main desire of ours is helping others. We both want to help others in some capacity. For me, that is teaching and working with the youth through the arts. For my friend, that is creating and making life and purpose out of old or used items. I am further down my journey than my friend. I am not proud that I seemed to have forgotten what the journey was like. In a time of excitement, my friend shared an item with me that they wanted to buy and repurpose. I responded with, "Well, what about all those other projects that you have started but haven't finished. Won't this just sit on the shelf with the rest of the others?" Whoa. As someone who aspires to teach kids to pursue their dreams ALWAYS, this was quite contradictory. My friend's demeanor changed completely and I could tell I had discouraged them. I tried to apologize but I couldn't take the words back. In my very first article, Moving During A Pandemic, I wrote about taking the time to develop myself and then figuring out a career choice that made sense for ME. My last line of the article was, "Right now, I have no freaking idea what I’m supposed to do with my life and it’s pretty cool." I tried so hard to give myself patience and understanding when I was experiencing confusion and frustrations but then I was so quick to shoot my friends idea down, regardless of how pivotal this particular project might or might not be. In my younger classes, we often talk about that importance to always try, try, try again! As an artist, we always need to be making, creating, and exploring our imagination. I understand all of these premises but then when I went to apply them in conversation, I bombed. I don't bomb every time, though, just in big moments when it really matters. Cool. In this moment, I realized I needed to think about another article that I wrote. In Slow & Steady, I emphasize slowing down to appreciate the present and not worrying so much about the future. Again, seems a bit contradictory to my reaction in the moment. If I were to have slowed down and actually saw the situation, I would have noticed my friend needed an encouraging word to keep creating. Also, if I would have slowed down and actually listened, I would have realized the reason there are so many other unfinished projects. Hindsight is always 20/20, right?
As you can see, I need to practice what I preach. I need to apply my writings now, instead of just using writing as a form of process. The work towards a more fulfilled self is never going to stop. Our priorities, schedules, mindsets, and capacities are changing daily and in order to recognize that, expand upon, and grow from, we have to be multi-tasking. But if we practice the tools that we already know and preach, then our journey will be well-informed and steadfast. Notice I didn't say easy?