For some reason, this personality trait of mine concerns people. I mean, REALLY concerns people. I can't even tell you how many times someone has told me to, "cut yourself a little slack," "slow down and smell the roses," or my favorite, "why don't you just take a break from everything and enjoy life?"
In truth, there's nothing wrong with the concern. I know that all of this advice is offered from the only perspective people understand... their own. For quite some time, though, all of these perspectives and concerns made me second guess everything I was doing. It created an underlying guilt that I was missing out on life and an anxiety that I was just simply doing life wrong.
So, here is my attempt to help everyone understand my strategy in life, and hopefully to bring some peace and shared understanding to anyone who lives like I do, and who may feel the guilt and anxiety that can accompany it.
I refuse to grow stale. This does not mean that I refuse to rest, or lack the ability to enjoy life's simple beauties. The best way I know how to describe my tactics, is to explain that my strategy in life is the exact same as my strategy in mountain climbing. Anyone who has ever hiked with me, can attest to what I'm about to tell you.
I am not afraid to stop on the way up.
My mountain friends are probably laughing as they read that statement, because this is something they know ALL too well. Practically every. single. time. I see a flat surface with a good view, my butt is on the ground, and my water bottle is at my mouth. You see, I have a goal set when I start at the bottom of the mountain....that goal is to reach the top, by any means necessary. I am far too competitive and stubborn to give up on that goal. However, I get tired. (Sometimes embarrassingly quickly).
This is most likely due to the fact that I don't pace myself. I can't. I literally don't know how.
I start out that trail so hell-bent on reaching the summit that I push forward without any regard to maintaining my energy. I don't stop on the trail to drink water, (waste of time), I don't stop on the trail to take deep breaths, (waste of time), and I certainly don't walk slowly in order to preserve energy, (where's the fun in that?). So when I see that perfectly flat rock overlooking a gorge or some beautiful picturesque landscape, a natural force as strong as gravity drags my ass right to it. Sometimes, I even joke as I'm sitting there, that "this is far enough....this is a pretty view...it can't be THAT much prettier at the top..." But then as I sit there, the stagnancy washes over me, my competitive nature kicks in, and my dreams of reaching the top take over.
That is my life in a nutshell. I'm a dreamer, a goal-setter, and I'm hell-bent on getting there. I don't know how to pace myself. And I don't want to. Let me tell you why.
I enjoy the race, I am driven by the adrenaline of it.
I learn and grow and become more of the person I want to be during these times that everyone else perceives as overwhelming craziness.
And on top of all of that, BECAUSE I have raced up the trail without breaking for rest, I get to spend more time sitting on the flat rock than the average joe has the opportunity to.
I get the satisfaction of knowing that I took to that trail with everything that I had, that I walked up the mountain as a force to be reckoned with. And the minute I see my opportunity to rest, I not only take it, but I get to enjoy it more intensely and for longer than the person who took the time to "slow down and smell the roses" along the way.
So which life strategy is the better one:
1. The pace yourself and rest along the way, so as to never reach the overwhelming stage of tiredness
2. The force to be reckoned with, who both blazes the trail AND rests on the rock at their own intense and preferred pace
TRICK QUESTION: neither.
We are different people. We have different life purposes, and with that comes different life strategies. To assume one strategy is healthier than another is as absurd as assuming an individual's role in the universe is more important than another's.
So, next time you think to yourself that it is your duty to express concern, when you think to yourself that someone must be absolutely crazy to live their lives at a degree of intensity that makes you sweat to even think about....consider this: we know what we're doing, we love the way that we're doing it, and we were built to not only endure the crazy, but to thrive in it.