The New Year had me thinking a lot about goals, values, ambitions, motivations, life, and how excited I was to wear my new fuzzy socks. With all the talk of “look how far you’ve come in a year” and “can you believe that was only 1 year ago” I found myself even more reflective and nearly bubbling over with blog ideas – two of which involved writing about goals and values.
At my old job, we had a list of working norms – kind of like guiding values – and each day at our morning huddle, we would say what working norm we were focusing on that day. I loved that idea. I mean, obviously, in theory, you were living into every positive attribute every day you walked into the office, but how nice it was to really put your heart and soul behind one guiding value each week.
For this reason, I’ve decided to dedicate a new series of “Res” posts to my own kind of working norms – my own mini-resolutions. You don’t have to buy into any of these. You don’t have to make your own. But maybe at some point, it’ll make you think about what it would look like to radically change your life one week at a time.
Res 25: Embrace the Grey Space
I’ve been putting off this Sunday’s blog all day. I finally sat down to work, my coworker’s pup by my side and the slight hum of the window air conditioner unit my only company.
Okay, I thought, what’s something I really need to focus on this week?
I thought about it for a second before laughing in spite of myself.
I could probably try to be less dramatic.
The thought flashed through my mind along with the hundreds of other thoughts that had been bouncing through me. The black and white, yes and no, right and wrong ideas were swirling in my inner dialogue. The noise was deafening. And then silent. Complete silence. Maybe there was space for me outside the definitive. Maybe I needed to learn how to live in the grey.
I’ve spent a lot of time in this past month in thoughtful reflection. I’ve spent time thinking about my professional career and my volunteer responsibilities, my loved ones in Pennsylvania and the new friendships I was building in New York City, and my many roles as daughter, sister, coworker, Happiness ‘expert,’ race director, roommate, and so on and so on.
I’ve felt like a Mr. Potato Head doll, popping on a face for one group and then shifting into a different “mode” for another. This is “professional, needs to get stuff done, doesn’t want to be around people Liz.” This is “wants someone to sit in the park, eat rice cakes, and write poetry with me Liz.” This is “realizing I’m a walking contradiction Liz.”
I think I’ve spent a lot of my life thinking in black and whites. I was either this or that – end of story. But what if I’m a little mix of catastrophe. What if I don’t have to choose between multiples things that bring me unmeasurable joy for varying reasons? What if I blur the paints?
Resolution #25: Embrace the Grey Space
For a while now, I’ve felt like I’ve been living with one foot in Pennsylvania and one foot in New York City – unable to fully commit to either – and stretching myself thin as a result. Occasionally, this throws me into a very over dramatic fit where I think I need to go all in one way or another. And it’s not just the geographical divide – this is the case in a lot of aspects of my life.
Did I stay out all night and have fun? Never again. I have work to do.
Have I not interacted with another human outside of a professional setting in two weeks? Maybe I should throw away all the things I’ve worked for and become a reckless 20-something who doesn’t care about anything!
For me, there is no middle ground. I fly to dramatic extremes like it’s my 4th job. But why? Maybe I can learn to live in the grey space. Maybe there is a way to find a balance between a night out with friends and a night in being productive. Maybe I can find the perfect mix of introvert and extrovert tendencies to create a day that really works for me. Maybe I can apply it to my life.
I think, in my initial haste to think of something to work on, my hypersensitive mind defaulted to dramatic extremes. But maybe it’s less about the drama and more about the acceptance of being in the grey area – whatever that means.