Interestingly enough, it’s taken a career that has spanned some 10 years where I have given my all to others to bring me to the place I am now where my primary focus is me.
I’ve read a number of quotes over the last several months, and while the wording may have been slightly different on each of them, the message has been the same: one of the most meaningful and purposeful ways to live life is to serve others.
I get it. But I have also come to finally understand too that in order to serve others, I have to be at a slightly better place than I am right now. My current purpose is to replenish the cup that I exhausted over the last ten years which I did mostly through a complete disregard for self-care.
With all of that being said, it is refreshing to be brought out of my own head and to be reminded of the bigger picture.
Last night, Ian and I went to an outdoor screening of the French documentary Demain. It’s a brilliant film and asks the viewer some really relevant and thought-provoking questions. It is one of those documentaries that starts out slightly depressing, in a We Are Currently in a 6th Global Extinction phase, but moves to some incredibly inspiring stories of individuals and groups who are working at making a difference, in an attempt to turn things around while there is still time.
The movie came at a really lovely moment for me, in that for the last several months, (and truthfully far beyond that) I have lived mostly in my head. While I only stopped working some two months ago, prior to that I was still involved in various positions that had me working alongside some diverse and vulnerable populations. I will admit that for the last 2 years, I have only been giving a very small and meagre percent of my heart to those jobs and to the people I worked with. The lack of passion that I was able to give wasn’t attributable to a lack of interest or a lack of investment. It was a result of my trying to draw from and overly used and never-replenished well. If I am to be completely honest, and if I am going to continue on with the well metaphor, there hadn’t been any water in the well since early 2015.
As a result of the bone dry well, and my own awareness, my efforts now have been on how to re-fill it. I haven’t looked much beyond that, nor thought about whether I wanted to extend my efforts beyond myself and my well.
I am reminded though, again as is my habit, that I rarely allow myself credit for the things that I am doing. The things that are working. The active nature I do actually have, despite feeling like I am a bit dormant when it comes to issues greater than my own.
I won’t turn this into a platform to barrage you with facts and bits of information about becoming a vegan, but that was a choice I made, in part to do my small piece of attempting to make a difference.
In choosing to adopt a vegan diet-I haven’t yet gone all the way with a full vegan lifestyle-it was a means wherein I was able to get out of my own head and make a contribution; one that I saw had value.
The documentary fuelled a lot of other questions for me, and most importantly perhaps, it excited a number of passions, which I think have been lying quiet now for some time.
In the past, I maintained a lifestyle that I believed was one that would bring the better version of me out into the world. In allowing that better version to come forth, I was someone who was more engaged in various issues. I made choices in how I lived which I believed would create some small change, tiny though it may have been. I volunteered. I advocated with feeling and intent. I was a more whole human, whose interests extended far beyond my own benefit.
I would get outraged by things. I would speak passionately about others. I contributed. With all of my heart.
Over the last nearly 3 years now, all of that has gone quiet. When I look back on these more recent years, I see that I have been in survival mode for longer than I thought. And in being in survival mode, I had little to extend in terms of passion and interest in anything else, let alone my own well-being.
It’s interesting to look back now, with a bit of perspective to see where that shift happened, and why.
In working so consciously and fervently on myself now for the last several months, I will admit that I have put any other issues that haven’t directly had an impact on me in an immediate manner, on the back burner. This is what I mean when I say I can get a bit too in my head.
I think this is where the challenge lies for me now: striking a balance between contributing to the outside, while maintaining enough quality self-care to replenish the well so I can continue on in that contribution. I can see now that after 10 years of giving and giving and giving, and failing to take the time to check-in with my own self, it has lead to a quiet apathy.
I’m still trying to re-define who I am, but I know I am far from apathetic.