Is Chasing Goals, Tiring You?

There are many things I am really good at.

There are also many things I am not good at (although I like to refer to them as skills I haven’t developed yet).

Here are some of those things.

  1. Directions (my eldest sister loves to tell the story of a time before Google maps when I got so lost driving through London I had to pull over, stop my car, call my brother-in-law, describe my surroundings to him and then wait while he came and found me. I was 27 years old.)
  2. Eating slowly (I am the youngest of 3 girls. If you didn’t eat quickly in my house, a sister would swipe that roast potato right off your plate.)
  3. Swimming. (No. Absolutely not. I’ll splash around in some cute ocean waves but get that chlorine water away from my hair and out from my nose, why is it trying to kill me?)
  4. Remembering to take the washing out of the washing machine. (Every. Time.)
  5. Speaking quietly. (I JUST CAN’T.)
  6. Catching a ball.
  7. Throwing a ball. (You get the gist.)

The list goes on. I am unashamedly human, after all.

But rather than continue to parade my underdeveloped skills under your nose like the shit king who brought Myrrh to the birth of Christ (lift your game dude!), let me change the perspective and present you will one of my excellent skills.

I am a very fast walker (read, terrible at walking slowly).

I can only assume that this skill developed out of a necessity to keep up with my older siblings as a child.

 I dropped into this crazy life once my sisters had already been committed to the British schooling system.

This smallish but distinguished age gap kept me on the tail of my sisters. I spent forever chasing them.

Both of my sisters were bookworms, so it made sense that I was desperate to join them in their adventures at the top of the Faraway Tree or to find out what happened in Little Women to make them cry.

I remember being desperate to read big books and to master the art of reading a sentence that led from one page to another, watching in awe as they consumed words without needing to speak them aloud or use their fingers to keep track of where they were on the page.

Of course, by the time I met them at Enid Blyton and Louisa May Alcott they had moved onto Jilly Cooper (valid) and Jane Austen. I’d caught up, but I was still behind.

It was a race I couldn’t pull out of but could never win.

Exams, snogging boys, driving, make up, pierced ears; the list continued. I always felt like I was chasing something I would never catch.

And this feeling has stayed with me into my adult life.

I often feel left out but from what I couldn’t tell you. I regularly feel left behind, undeveloped and generally not good enough to play with the big kids.

Let me be clear. This isn’t because my sisters made me feel like this. It’s how my tiny brain chose to interpret the big feels of being a little person. My prevailing thought as a small child was that I wasn’t enough. Not big enough to join my sisters on a bike ride without my parents and stabilisers. Not old enough to stay up and watch Twin Peaks. Not clever enough to understand the conversation around the dinner table.

Again, I must reiterate that none of this was because of what anyone else did. It was just the way it was. It would’ve been irresponsible for my parents to let me ride off with my sisters or watch Twin Peaks and it was no one’s fault I only had the intellect of a 5-year-old at the age of 5.

But that feeling of never quite being enough is always with me. I have never quite silenced the whisper in my ear that tells me I’m missing out on something. I’m never fully satisfied with where I’m at, berating myself for not doing more or having more or being more; caught in the pendulum of trying too hard and giving up too easily. I walk in a sinister shadow of expectation, anticipation and impatience. I am always looking for the next step to get “there” and I’m starkly aware that I don’t know where “there” even is.

So, I can only assume that the skill of moving my little stumpy legs at a walking pace that sees 6-foot-tall men jog to keep up with me is the literal physical manifestation of me trying to keep up.

I am always in pursuit. And it is fucking exhausting.

A couple of months ago I was walking with a mate who, tired of my breakneck pace challenged me to slow down.

“Just walk like a normal person” she panted.

So, I tried it. I consciously matched my pace with hers, slowing down and telling myself that I was okay with it.

But the moment my attention wavered my steps quickened.

“Why are you doing it?” my mate laughed, assuming I was intentionally reverting back to my habitual stride.

“I’m not doing it on purpose” I promised as I refocused my conscious awareness to my feet and slowed down once again.

Truth be told, for me to naturally slow the speed of my walking will take regular, concentrated practice over a sustained period of time. I have been walking this way forever, so my body and brain fall back into this groove the moment I relinquish the action to my unconscious mind. In order for a new walking pace to become my standard, I will need to change the unconscious habit through conscious, continual repetition until my new slower pace is the new normal.

And this is also how I am tackling my habitual thinking around not being enough.

I am making a conscious, concentrated effort to slow down, to be okay with where I’m at and to remind myself that I am enough, as I am, today.

Do I find myself falling back into the habit of chasing? Yes. Every day. But in the same way I have to tell myself to slow my physical steps, I have to remind myself daily to practice contentment.

Here are 5 things I have found most useful for those of you playing along at home!

  1. Meditation (yawn). You get bored of hearing about it because so many people are saying it. So many people are saying it because it really works.
  2. Affirmation (please). Affirmations don’t work because people use them half-heartedly and then say, “I tried affirmations for a whole week, and nothing changed.” Don’t be a dick. You’re not going to train yourself to walk differently in a week so it’s kinda silly to think you can train your brain to believe something different in a 7-day timeframe. Affirmations pay off in months, not weeks.
  3. Crying. (Shut. Up). True story! After almost 4 decades of trying not to be frustrated I finally figured out resisting the frustration was in fact, making me more frustrated. Recently I’ve allowed the frustration to come. It doesn’t always feel good. But it’s just a feeling. It won’t last forever. So, I feel it, normally cry through it and then, transcend past it.
  4. Kundalini yoga. (Piss off). Okay, I hear you. This is not for everyone. I fucking hate yoga (read about it here) but Kundalini is more about meditation, persistence, and spiritual connection. There’s also some chanting and weird breathing but everyone’s doing it, so you feel like less of a dick than you’d imagine. I’m fangirling this practice hard atm.
  5. Nature. (Be more original). It doesn’t get more original than nature. The materialist world in which we live is designed to make us feel inadequate. Why would we buy the face cream, drive the car or borrow money to buy homes we can’t afford if we felt like we were enough as we were, with what we already had? It can be hard to disengage from. But when I am facing the ocean or walking through forests, I find my physical being shift to match natures perfect vibration, and just for one moment, I am indeed, enough.

It’s a liberating thing, to realise that in the very act of slowing down, I am actually catching up.

I’d love to hear how you slow down, find the answers in silence and work on your self-worth so hit me up with your comments and if you have any questions ask away!

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Thank you for reading and please, if you loved this, share it.

Em x