August 7, 2015By Brittnee Taylor Newman
Ten days ago I came home from a vacation that was life-changing. Does that sound dramatic? A little. True for this present moment? Very.
Since December, I’ve been riding white-knuckled on a careening carousel—one which I willingly signed up for. More than that: I demanded a ticket. It’s funny that sometimes, when we finally get the very thing we’ve been asking for, we realize we don’t really want it. In theory we do, but in practice it makes us miserable.
It’s like cake. I could dream for days about a layered, dark chocolate cake, with red wine fudge ganache, and light toffee filling, and the perfect semi-sweet frosting. But put that whole cake in front of me and hand me a fork, and I may soon find that I don’t really want the whole cake. More than a few bites in, it’s too much sweet, too much rich, slightly sickening, suffocating in it’s enormity.
I was finally getting all the success I wanted, but it had become too much. I was exhausted, disconnected, and running on the fuel of overachievement instead of loving the work while my hands were busy in it. Months of this chaos built up, until I finally declared July off-limits to projects and networking functions; instead to be filled only with family, weekend trips, and Aruba.
I’d lost my desire for the work, and was instead drinking from a maltov cocktail of pride, achievement, financial gain and the intoxication of winning. Does that sound diabolical? Yep. Does it feel that way in everyday life? No. It feels like a little word we call “success.”
Aruba was the anti-cake. I lost my phone the second day there, forcing me to disconnect and be present. The relentless island tradewinds wreaked havoc on my perfectly-constructed curls and big, floppy hats, so I ditched the wedges and eyelashes for flips flops and island hair. While lying on a beach, drinking out of a coconut, I started reading Lysa TerKeurst’s The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands, and things began to click into place.
Just because I don’t do it all does not mean I can’t do it all. And in reality, no one is asking me to prove that I can—other than that crazy girl in the mirror with the crushed hat and island hair.
Aruba was the start of something, not the end of something. Physically, I’m back stateside, but that plane might as well have crashed right into the Atlantic on the first day and left me there: even now, I’m working slowly on a new way of living.
I’ll always be ambitious, I’ll always work harder than I should, and I’ll never become numb to the thrill of achieving something I’m proud of. But I’m working now on setting intentional boundaries, a line in the sand that says my energy must be directed toward passion instead of performance, and that my time and talent be committed to things I can live and breathe for. A little less of sipping maltov cocktails, a little more drinking from coconuts.