04 April, 2012
On Being a Grown Up
I don't often get personal here, but I hope you'll bear with my ramblings today...
I started this blog almost five years ago, when I was 26. I'm 31 years old now, and I feel like a totally different person than I was back then. In just the past few months, I bought a new car (although I am still keeping my classic Volvo- don't worry!), bought a raincoat, hired a bookkeeper, started wearing pants (it's been years since I've worn anything but skirts and dresses), and running shoes, and started taking vitamins. In a way I feel like I've given up on part of the identity I always had for myself: I'm realizng that maybe I'm just not going to be the super-stylish girl with the funky old car, the hipster boyfriend, and the rock and roll lifestyle. Maybe what worked in my twenties just isn't practical anymore. I think that life is telling me to slow down, to trade a little bit of style for substance, and to take care of myself in different ways than my younger self imagined I'd need to.
Notably, my business has grown considerably in the last few years, and as of a couple months ago, my stress level skyrocketed. Add to that some of personal matters that have been weighing on me, and lots of rainy weather... I was feeling so overwhelmed that I was having trouble getting out of bed in the mornings. I found that the only way I could accomplish any creative work (not administrative work) was to literally remove myself from my life by checking myself into a hotel somewhere far enough away that I didn't feel any sense of obligation or responsibility. And while it was lovely to do that, it certainly isn't a financially viable plan in the long-term, nor is escape ever truly the best solution to a problem.
So instead I've been trying to cut back on some things in my life so that I have more time for myself. This has been a challenge, as I like to be very social and I live in a place where there are events nearly every day that I would love to attend. And in the past, I've simply attended as many as I could- sometimes I've had daytime and evening plans every day of the week for weeks on end- but that means that my work, my home, my health, and my mood suffer.
I'm lucky enough to make my own schedule, so I've been restructuring it so that my physical and mental health are the priority, and my social life (though very rewarding in its own right) comes last. The biggest realization for me has been that feeling rushed in the morning starts my whole day off in a stressful way, and causes me to be overwhelmed and therefore get very little done. So I've been trying to schedule as little as possible before 1:00pm, so that no matter how late I wake up (it's crucial for me to get 8 hours of sleep, but I am a night owl by nature, so rising early is rarely easy), I still have a few hours in the morning to myself. That means I get to exercise, eat a healthy breakfast, get some work done, or even just mull about aimlessly if that's what I need.
And I can't tell you how much this has affected me: I find that I actually go to bed earlier (and wake up earlier, feeling refreshed) and accomplish much more during the day than I used to. I still often have evening plans but maybe not every night, and the time I do have with friends and family feels more like quality time, and not just another item on my agenda. I've also been trying to be more active: going to the gym, taking long hikes with friends a couple times a week, etc., and spending more time outdoors in general. I still have my off days (yesterday was one), where I am low in energy and feel sad or axious, but it's amazing what a good night's sleep can do for that.
Anyways, I'm curious to hear what things other people have done to reduce stress in their lives, and to feel healthier, and how growing up has affected them. Please share in the comments if you're so inclined.