I don’t like to tread water.
I don’t like to be still.
See that photo? That’s a photo of me Accomplishing Things. Neat, huh?
I like to accomplish things, achieve goals, move forward, and tackle challenges one by one until I’ve conquered the world. I like to think that I’m invincible in the face of fatigue, burnout, hectic schedules, and physical weakness.
Ok, so here’s where I am right now:
Having been a stay-at-home mom for eight and a half years, I find myself suddenly just doing the staying at home part. My youngest baby went to school, and so here I am, just the dog and me, staring at each other and wondering what to do next. I have a part-time job that I love, but it’s ten hours a week, which leaves me a lot of time to think about how I really ought to be doing something.
I love to seize opportunities. When things pass by me that I want, I tend to reach out and grab them. That’s how I got my husband. I’m a firm believer that if you really want something, you just go out and get it. You can’t just sit and wait and expect it to fall into your lap. That’s not what do-ers do! You’re a do-er and a go-getter! So get out there and do and go! If you’re not ACTIVELY PURSUING ALL YOUR GOALS, you are a failing failure! And other thoughts that insane people think.
But lately, I’ve had to pass up some really amazing opportunities because I’m a mom and a wife and a part-time Weight Watchers leader, and I have obligations to my family and improv group and job and friends and church and community. I’m an adult, with real-world, dreary responsibilities. So instead of jumping and seizing the day, I have had to sigh, let go of the day, and tell myself that another day is going to happen tomorrow.
I couldn’t pursue a job I really wanted, working with a woman who has been my lifelong mentor and personal hero, because the timing wasn’t right.
I had to sing a song that wasn’t super-impressive in order to preserve my illness-compromised voice, so I took second place instead of the first place I might have taken had I been able to sing the song I really wanted to sing.
I made it as far as the audition room for a musical I’ve desperately wanted to be in since I was eight years old, then sadly handed my number back to the stage manager and walked out. I gave up before I even started, because after looking at the rehearsal schedule, I realized that in order to seize that opportunity, I would have to flake out of obligations to my family, my husband, my job, my community, my friends, my committees, my church, and my performance group. And seizing that opportunity, while immediately gratifying, wouldn’t bring me a single step closer to being the person I want to be.
Anyway, for months, I’ve felt like I was treading water. Like I was watching these opportunities pass me by while I stay in the same place, stuck, unable to conquer anything because the timing just hasn’t been right. I’ve felt like I was failing.
It’s frustrating. It’s infuriating. It’s my own personal hell, to have to admit that I can’t do All The Things at once, that there are things that I simply don’t have time to do. That I’m human, and that there are only 24 hours in a day, and that I have laundry that needs folding and children that need feeding and a husband who needs kissing.
But you know what? These things, these seemingly mundane things? They’re really the important things. People notice if they don’t get done. Even if they don’t get done because I was busy Being Awesome and Accomplishing Things. My children aren’t going to look back and remember how much mommy accomplished. They’re going to remember that I picked them up from school on time every single day, and that I made them eat vegetables and read them stories and played Hi Ho Cherry-O and that they always had clean clothes.
That’s kind of an Impressive Accomplishment right there.
So I did a little thinking and a little soul-searching and a little praying.
The timing wasn’t right. When the Lord closes a door, He opens a window. Maybe you didn’t get to do these things because something even better is in store for you.
Then I had a thought that stopped me dead in my tracks.
The timing wasn’t right for me. But that means…it was exactly right for someone else.
Because this world is big, and I’m not the center of it. This world that we’re all sharing is full of people who are just as smart, just as talented, just as driven as I am. It’s also full of people who are much smarter, much more talented, and much more driven than I am. So who the hell am I to think that it’s because of me, and that the universe is tailored just for me? That I’m specifically being kept from taking the opportunities I want to take because the Universe is holding out for something bigger for me?
What if…what if it’s not just that the timing wasn’t right for ME, but that it was EXACTLY RIGHT for someone else?
That job I wanted but couldn’t take? Someone else is going to take it. And the timing for them will be exactly right.
That contest I didn’t win? The timing was exactly right for the person who did.
The show I didn’t audition for? Other people did. And the timing is exactly right for them.
Something great is going to happen for me. Something always does, because life is grand and beautiful and surprising. Life has hills and valleys, and it’s always nighttime somewhere. All we have to do is wait. Tread water. Keep your priorities in order, and realize that you’re not the only one on the planet. You can’t do All The Things without letting some of them slip below the level of perfection.
I think the timing is right for me to take a minute. Breathe. Go for a run, read a book, pack nutritious lunches, teach Sunday school.
I’ll find a job, if I decide I want to.
I’ll enter again next year, hopefully healthy and with a strong voice.
It’s one of the most popular musicals of all time. This wasn’t my last chance.
One day, the timing will be right.