And I realized that my need to do more than my busiest friend isn’t about competing with him, at all. It’s about not feeling like I’ve done enough, until I’m completely tapped out because of that delicate balance between my own ingrained Type A personality and society’s barrage of messages that, if we’re not exhausted, we’re not trying hard enough.
I don’t think it’s just me, either.
Contrast the xojane.com article above with the advice in Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In.” Although it’s got a lot of empowering, female-forward advice on getting ahead in the rat race, Sandberg has drawn a lot of feedback and outright criticism for her borderline-militant approach to work life or even life as a whole. Sandberg doesn’t actually say women should work as hard as the boys, or that we should give up everything we’ve got to get ahead at work.
But she doesn’t say we shouldn’t, either. Draw your own conclusions is the most prevalent message here and we’re all drawing pretty much the same one: it’s a race to the finish line and whoever can drink the most cups of coffee, show off the darkest undereye circles or at least sleep the fewest number of hours wins.
I’m gonna go ahead and bow out of that rat race. Know why?
Since I’ve taken on aforementioned new freelancing project, I’ve been a pretty miserable person to be with. Since it’s taken on a much larger chunk of time and energy than I’d originally anticipated, and it doesn’t appear to be taking as much time or energy from the person I’m working with, I’ve been getting cranky. And who do I crank at, when I’m in my very ugliest of moods? You guessed it: the person I’m working with, who is a dear friend and most undeserving of my attitude problem.
So let’s make this a public declaration to climb off the hamster wheel, slow down and accept that we’re all individuals with our own limits, our own measures of success and most of all, our own barometers of where each of those lie. Let’s stop competing with the boys, the clock, the universe, ourselves. Let’s stop hating ourselves for being ourselves, with all of our beautiful individual limits. Most of all, let’s stop giving each other the side-eye if the person next to you is “winning” the stress competition.
Because soon enough, there won’t be anyone standing there to take it and then we’ve all lost, on the greatest scale of all.