Rejecting The Rat Race: How Do You Put On The Brakes?

Rejecting The Rat Race: How Do You Put On The Brakes?

Rejecting The Rat Race: How Do You Put On The Brakes?

There’s a lot of pressure to do it all, be the best you can be, push yourself to your limits, go, go go until you’re exhausted and then go a little more.

“I really don’t work that much,” a friend of mine keeps protesting. He works one full-time job, is part of three or four volunteer organizations and freelances for (at last count, and I never can) two or three websites.

Right. Not that much at all.

So is it any wonder we, as a society, are so stressed out? I think a lot of it is internal as much as it is societal.

Every time I take on a new project, I’m reminded how deeply, often self-destructively competitive I am. It’s not enough to have just finished editing one book, elbows-deep in another, working on a new freelancing project with a dear friend of mine and pitching a couple of others, in addition to my day-job as editor of a newspaper. Oh no. I have to have a total crisis of confidence when I find out that aforementioned friend is currently (gasp in horror with me, ready?) writing more pieces and working on more side projects than I am.

“You’ve got to stop seeing this as a competition,” he told me, after I confessed that I was feeling the heat. “You have your work, I have mine. It’s not a race.”

Reject the Rat Race!

He’s much more reasonable than I am, see. Because I’ve been racing against the clock, the world, anything, anyone I can find, I forced my way out of the womb 3 months early, in my haste to beat the first odds the world presented me.

Let’s stop it, everyone. Let’s just stop it before we all die of heart failure before 40.

Because the universe tends to give us what we need when we need it, if we’re receptive enough to receive it, one of my favorite websites posted this article the day I was grappling hardest with my ingrained competitive spirit. It’s a fantastic, grounding discussion of why being the busiest person on the block is no virtue. There’s no prize for the biggest under-eye circles, come to find out.

But see, I’m a slow learner. So I needed an additional reminder that pushing ourselves as far as we can go and then just a little bit further doesn’t mean we’re better than the guy who knew his limits and stuck to them. A friend posted this equally awesome article about those “fit-spiration” photos we’re all seeing all over the place lately.  The author dissects the body-shaming, self-hate promoting and blatant ableism of those statements, going beneath the intent to inspire to the real meaning and dangerous ramifications they actually hold.

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