Trimming the Fat

Boundaries were never something I have been very good at enforcing.  As a people pleaser, I am more prone to going along with what someone else wants, even if that means I get trampled on in the process.

Ian and I have been talking a lot recently, about boundaries and we have continually come back to the idea that this year, 2018, is my year to practice putting boundaries in place.  When I say “we continually come back to the idea” I really mean Ian has.  I find I struggle at times getting perspective on my own life and experiences and recognizing certain things for the inherent lessons they really are.

In January, I began job hunting, and quickly learned that what I thought were the more easy-going and less stressful positions I was entertaining, really weren’t a great fit.  The lower pay (something I initially thought I was okay with) coupled with the general sense of employee value I was seeing (or rather wasn’t seeing as it was lacking) allowed me to put some boundaries in place for what I would tolerate and accept in a job and what I wouldn’t.

Throughout the course of January and February, I admittedly burned through a few jobs trying them on for size and quickly realizing they weren’t good fits for me.

This is something I have never done, historically.  During the few occasions when I have been out of steady work in my adult life, I have accepted whatever I could get my hands on-whether it meant lower pay and an under valuing of my skill set or whether it was something I wasn’t even interested in doing.  A job was a job and I have always had it impressed upon me that any job (maybe not any, but just about) was better than no job.

It took some practice and there was definitely a lot of second guessing and doubt filled moments where I wondered if I was making the right decision, in walking away from what seemed like a running count of ill fitting jobs.

In late February I landed a position that I initially thought was a great fit, only to discover that it also fell into the ill fitting jobs’ camp.  After some re-evaluating and reflection, I opted to give my notice as the position didn’t seem to be one where I could grow.  I also felt that my qualifications and time were not seen as valuable.

In late March, I was offered a teaching position in an elementary school.  It wasn’t the conventional education system I grew up with or was trained to teach in, but it would (finally) allow me the opportunity to work with children once again.

It was full time, with the strong possibility for permanency.  I’m not sure why I felt the need to indicate the possibility for permanency.  

Ever since my trip to Mexico in January, I have been consciously working at swimming against the current that is our western culture and its values.  The notion that one must have steady and reliable income as well as benefits and a retirement savings plan is a notion that once lined up with my values but not so much anymore.   I’ve never been a big spender of money and have not subscribed to the more materialistic ways of the culture around me, but I have certainly felt the pressure that I should be earning a lot, even if it is far more than I actually need to live off of.

Over the course of the last few months, I have sat down and looked at what I actually need to survive.  Not what society thinks I should be bringing in each month.

It turns out that for my lifestyle, I don’t need that much.

All of that is to say that I am now in a far different mind-set than I was even a year ago, where permanency, benefits and security meant a great deal to me.  My current line of thought is much more centred IN the moment, and knowing and trusting that I always land on my feet in one way or another.  If one job or position doesn’t necessarily work out, I can always find another.  I may need to be more resourceful, and I may have to do a lot of searching, and it may take some time but eventually things work out.

Is that a form of letting go?  It is definitely a release of a need to control and a fear that comes when control doesn’t seem possible.

I am now 3 weeks into a new-to-me teaching position.  It is challenging, in ways I never would have imagined but most importantly perhaps it is turning out to be an amazing opportunity where I can practice the delicate art of putting boundaries into place and respecting them.  And asking that others respect them too.

There have already been some stumbles and a lot of exhaustion as I navigate a new system and hold myself accountable to my own standards and expectations but I feel there may be some growth happening.

I am beginning to realize that in the last year I have been actively cutting a lot out of my life-the excessive bits that no longer serve me; the books I have carried around for years, but never picked up for a second read; relationships and some friendships that had reached their expiry date; jobs that haven’t fit.

Trimming the figurative fat.

Sometimes it can feel a bit extreme, and sometimes I wonder if I am too hasty with some of my decisions.

I look back at how I used to move through life.  I would deliberate and go back and forth over the most simple matters.  I would doubt and allow myself to be swept up in something-a relationship, a job, a way of thinking-simply because it was easier to go with the flow than it was to try to swim against the tide and explore what was important to me.

There were a lot of insecurities and fears in that way of living, and while I am still finding my footing and stumbling along the way, I think I have managed to shed some of those insecurities and fears and am gradually becoming stronger in who I am.

With Love,

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Olivia Shaw

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