Life lately has been a bit "extra" as my young and hip millennial friends would say. Extra stressful, extra busy and also extra challenging and exciting, with a sprinkle of fun here and there. Running a business has still to prove itself as the "ultimate, best professional decision I have ever made," as my friend and mentor has referred to her experience. I eat, sleep and dream budgets and payroll and taxes. And then, there are my cases and my clients - each amazing and challenging in their own right.
This new adventure brings with it so many more worries than I ever had to deal with when I was at my old firm (at the big firm, there were plenty of other frustrations, but it's been over a year since I've had to concern myself with those. Bygones.). But since re-branding and reorganizing this spring, the office is a much more enjoyable place to work for me and my amazing team. And we have lots of snacks.
Unfortunately, the stresses of trying to build something from nothing have been taking their toll on me. I have seemed to have lost the ability to just say no to the office snacks, late night snacks, early afternoon snacks, mid morning snacks, basically any and all snacks. I've also lost the ability to regain my after work routines.
I've been "leaning" into everything this year because that bad ass lady book told me to. I've been stressing myself out with no consistent outlet to release that stress. I'm a hands on person with everything in my life and as my stress level rose to an all time high, a few months ago, I recognized that perhaps it was time to lean back, rather than lean in so far.
Business stuff aside, everything else was driving me bananas from my relationships to dealing with my ex, to my family. As usual, I'm helping to put out fires everywhere else as smoke is starting to seep out of my own roof, but the hose has a kink in it.
Probably around Mothers Day (partly because I liked the symbolic nature and partly because I like to ruin holidays - not really, but it's been known to happen), I threw down the gauntlet. I was tired of not getting what I wanted and needed. So in a classic "F that S" moment (my mom says she has really had enough of my bad language. I call bulls*#t, but whatevs...I'll try to contain myself. Although I should point out that my mom made me ride the bus to school through High School and as everyone and their much more tolerant mothers understand, nothing good happens on the school bus, and no good things are learned. I can directly correlate my colorful vocabulary to daily bus rides. Mom, you have no one else to blame but yourself. You're welcome.)
...sorry, I digressed...I basically dropped the mic on everything and everyone that weekend and that week. Enough was enough. Tired of giving and not getting, I decided to be honest with myself and everyone around me. No, I wasn't ok; no, everything isn't fine...and here's how I really feel.
Not only did I feel better, I started seeing results from my candid communication. I wasn't accusatory - after all, it's not their fault I was giving in to everyone else's needs and wants and losing myself - I was just honest. Finding myself making decisions based on what everyone else wanted was not working for my well being. So, I told everyone, I was no longer going to do that. Life and relationships in families and among friends is about compromise, but I was done compromising when no else was willing to do it for me.
When we stop to remember that our well being isn't optional and putting everyone else first, while it may seem heroic and selfless, is not good for us, we can begin to lean back, relax and enjoy life. It always goes back to setting reasonable personal boundaries and saying "no" whenever we can to the things that do not bring us joy so that we can say "yes" to the things that do. Being upfront about what we want and expect from a relationship - whether it be a spouse or significant other or even a parent - can be likewise liberating.
I still have more work to do in this area, especially where my relationships are concerned - I totally treasure the invention of caller ID - but finally being able to say "this is what I want; this is what I need and if you're not going to honor that, it's ok but don't expect to spend time with me/for me to do what you want because I deserve to receive what I am asking of you" seems to have everyone in my life on the same page as me.
I sent this text to a family member last week: "you're asking me to rearrange my schedule for you again, but you have refused to accommodate my schedule when I ask the same thing of you. I would appreciate it if I can expect the same level of compromise and respect from you going forward." More on-edge, frustrated Lauren, might have sent an accusatory, "you always do this to me! Go figure it out!" type text (and I know this because that's what happened the week before. That reaction got me no where but elbow deep in a bag of Tostitos), but I took a breath and sent what I sent. I suppose that message resonated because I leaned back and opened up honestly.
I equate the concept of leaning back to opening up, of being forthright. Perhaps leaning back is equal parts honesty and settling the F down (yup, there it is again, mom). I cannot expect the people around me to stop taking advantage of my accommodating nature when I do not set the boundaries that would prevent that from occurring. Perhaps my insecurities have interfered with my ability to do this. Fearing losing a relationship or angering someone by telling them how I truly feel has prevented me from being forthright in the past. But I'm working on it.