Don't save the world

posted by Jeff | Thursday, July 15, 2021, 5:30 PM | comments: 0

My birthday week ended up being a bust in some ways, given the wash-out weather from Elsa, me being sick and some other events outside of my control, but if there's one thing that I can call a win, it was that I was far less exhausted mentally, as I had been feeling. The reason is pretty simple, I think, because I made an effort to just concentrate on me for a few days. That's only selfish if it's the way you roll all of the time.

Like a lot of people, I think the last year left me feeling anxious and exhausted for all of the obvious reasons. And even if you do believe that you have the power to positively affect the world, it seems like a daunting task. Throw in the usual (or extra) stress of parenting, work and a good midlife crisis in the mix, you know, it doesn't feel great.

It's hard to give yourself permission to concentrate on yourself. We derive a lot of self-worth on our ability to do things for others, and for work, and indeed the world. It can be an identity issue. While society reasonably looks down on sociopathic behavior, it doesn't exactly make it normal to engage in a little self-care either. It's not the same thing as being selfish, but we kind of lump it all together.

It's probably my age, but I spend a lot of time wondering if I'm doing everything I can to leave the world a little better than I found it. Like probably most 40-somethings, I want to have purpose and meaning. What I'm learning is that you can go too far in that pursuit, to the extent that it takes way more than you're giving. I'm learning to not do that. Instead, I'm doing the same thing I would do in my professional life: Prioritize important things, set reasonable goals, and take a quiet victory lap as appropriate.

More to the point though, stay informed, but don't doom-scroll yourself into despair. This is a lot easier now that we can leave the house to do recreational things, certainly. If you see injustice or poverty or something else that bothers you, it's OK to be influenced by it, but there's only so much you can do in the moment. No one has infinite scope or resources, so you lean on that prioritization and goals.


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