Earlier this week I saw a tweet that took me a bit off guard. One of the artists I follow tweeted about how men shouldn’t have to meet expectations everyone expects of them to have value. The points she had listed were admittedly all things I had thought of as failures in my own life. It was very sweet and encouraging tweet regarding International Mens Day. It got me thinking about measures of success and what we do to reach that.
For the longest time I never thought I was living life the right way. I always thought that my writing and artwork were enough to help me feel fulfilled in a sense. The truth is I’ve been miserable trying to progress and be productive, to always be at my best. It didn’t help that I’d constantly compare myself to successful writers and artists all the time. I would always think myself a failure for not having made a career out of either of my passions.
I thought that it was because I don’t work hard enough. I would always try to maximize the efficiency of my time awake. I’d measure each hour of each day, time myself and focus on getting work done. However it slowly became clear that even though I was working longer and staying on task, the quality of my work suffered immensely. I was always disappointed with what I was producing and nothing felt right. Naturally my mind wandered and I just fell into a rut of not doing anything productive anymore.
Parts of that rut lead me to the blackhole of YouTube where I stumbled onto a video about the benefit of exercise to your mind and body by “What I’ve Learned”. It’s a long video but definitely worth the time. The video lead me to realize I had neglected my health and that was making my life miserable.
Immediately after work I headed to the gym and did my usual workout. It was miserable and I realized why. I hadn’t gone to the gym in a couple weeks, too focused on working on my book and artwork. I let my health suffer in order to push myself harder in a vain attempt to accomplish more. That night I collapsed and fell asleep. The next day I felt my mind so much more energetic and alive. Suddenly I felt a bit more clarity to the problems in my life.
I realized then that my expectations for myself were set so high that I didn’t allow myself to step back and realize I was breaking my body to achieve those goals. I had stopped exercising and stopped eating well, resorting to take out too often. I slept less than 6 hours every day and supplemented it with just more and more coffee. I was nothing but exhausted, irritable and unfocused for so long. But a couple days later and now I feel like I’m slowly returning back to a happy place, focused again on my goals but not sacrificing my health to do so.
Meditation helped me immensely. While exercising again and restoring a more balanced diet helped as well, meditation helped to really ground my chaotic thoughts. Every morning I took at least 5 to 10 min of my morning to just meditate and breathe in a dark room. I felt my mind clear and my body slowly feeling calm and serene once more. I found myself less stressed about how behind I felt in life, how I wasn’t as accomplished as I felt I should have been at this point in my life. I learned to breathe and just accept where I was in life and where I wanted to go. It helped me to no longer feel like I was so behind in life and that I was getting nowhere. Meditation brought some clarity that I’m on my own path and I, like anyone else, can get there someday.
I know I’m not alone in this. A lot of people I know who are working so hard on their goals and dreams also push themselves to a breaking point. There are a lot of people out there saying that is the right way to live life, that you can sleep when you’re dead. But what’s the point if you die before you achieve your goals? Misery and suffering aren’t how we should feel when pursuing our dreams.
Taking care of yourself is just as important. 🙂