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This year’s one word challenge is hard for me. I thought about the word almost in a begrudging way. It felt like one more thing I had to do before the year ended. It’s not like anyone was forcing me to do it, but I know when I have a goal or thing to accomplish I usually attend to it more and work toward it.

As I thought about why I felt this way- why I felt like I had to have a word, and why it was bothering me to add it to my to-do list, the word came. Like a quiet admonishment. Like something I knew I longed for but wasn’t sure how to get.

At the risk of sounding arrogant (or idiotic), simple things do not come easy for me. I always seem to take the hard way, put too much on myself, pushing and pushing toward something. I place responsibilities on myself, many of which are unnecessary, and overthink things ad nauseum. Often this adds to my anxiety, making me worse than better, compounding the feelings of being overwhelmed or wanting to hide away. It causes me to shut down, afraid to show my imperfections, because deep down I know many of them are of my own doing.

Take, for example, someone coming over to my house. I will clean and clean and fret and worry. I will try to make food that is not just good, but amazing, which all too-often makes for first time attempts at a recipe that may come out not as planned and then I disappoint myself. I want people to feel invited and welcomed in my home yet I cannot relax enough to allow myself to enjoy that they might just feel that way. I want to welcome and at the same time shield people from my flaws and cluttered spaces. After all, how dare I show I am human, right?

Or when I come to meet with a group of friends or just one friend how I feel myself having to mentally take down walls all over again because the idea of vulnerability is such a hard thing for me?

These are things I do to myself because sometimes, honestly, I just make life too complicated. For the sake of predictability I expend exhaustive amounts of time planning, preparing, and rehearsing. Blame it on my introversion, my INFJ melancholy personality, or just plain oddities of who I am. But either way, things get way over complicated in my mind and it spills out into my life.

So my word for 2017 is this: simplicity. An experiment in living Ockham’s Razor, if you will. Whichever is easiest, most simplistic, is the route I need to take. Instead of engaging in the rabbit hole of thinking that leads me to doubt relationships and feelings, choose the simplest path. Refuse to go down that rabbit hole. Purging the house and ridding it of unnecessary things so that it becomes easier to organize, easier to clean, and easier to host. Simple eating; good food that is good for me. Less spending on material objects and more time spent on the things that matter. Not worrying about fancy words and phrases but finally getting that story written down and let it tell itself.

Simplicity. It is a purposeful way of living. It is intentional. It is growing out of the unnecessary and stepping into the things that matter most. It is the renewing of the mind and resetting life to pull out of the mundane. To love people more and rid myself of false pretenses. To accept myself more and be okay with where I am and who I am. To not overwhelm myself and learn those boundaries and know when I have reached a limit. To be enough.

Plain and simple.

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