Earlier this week I happened upon a quote that went like this:
"You can't be committed to your bullshit and to your growth. It's one or the other."
(And please excuse the French!)
At first, I grinned and jumped up and down, clapping my hands gleefully, thinking I would splash this pithy quote all over my Facebook stuff so I could constantly shout to the world this perfect justification for my job. Like, WOOHOOOO!!! See, everyone??! Personal development is for ALL PERSONS!!! I was loving it.
Then I calmed down.
I wasn't ready to curse so publicly, and I had never even heard of the quote's author, Scott Stabile. This formerly dedicated English major felt lazy and barely even checked her source. So I tossed the idea of using this quote on my social media thingies. I decided to forget about it.
Except I couldn't. This quote has been knocking around upstairs for three whole days and I'm still not totally sure why.
It may be about kindness. And compassion. And all the gray.
The idea that we're either committed to our growth OR to our b.s. seems really rather harsh to me.
I like to think that I've been committed to my own growth. In my mid-twenties, for example, I decided that working with a therapist would be a beneficial use of my time, so I tried out a few different practitioners. One moved out of the area after a few sessions, and the next one kept calling me Christie. So that ended.
But there was still a small, small voice - who I now recognize as my deep self - that was nudging me to grow.
I didn't give up. I read books on psychology (or "self-help," you know, depending on the bookstore), learning about relationships, habit formation, anxiety, interpersonal communication, personality and temperament, life purpose, etc.. I watched people while hanging out in bars, observing like an ethnographer instead of, like, participating in the whole drinks and conversation and dancing thing. Nerd alert! I know.
Then my beloved and brilliant sister connected me with the therapist who I ended up seeing for seven years. Seven Significant Years. (Translation: about $50,000, plus my time, energy, etc. - and worth every penny.) This woman saved my life in so many ways, and she led me to coaching. Without exaggeration, I will cherish her forever.
But, please believe me: while I was absolutely committed to my growth, I was also still committed to my some of my b.s.! It didn't all disappear as soon as I scheduled my first appointment with Teri.
This was an unconscious commitment. I can see it easily now because hindsight is 20/20. But at the time I did not see my b.s. as b.s. - know what I mean? For example, I used to skip exercising a lot because I told myself I had no time. HA! That is total b.s.! Want more? Oh, there's plenty! I insisted (in my head) that a boyfriend's quickness to anger was just "passion" and that a career outside public education was impossible and that I could never ever learn to cook so I better buy ALL the Trader Joe's pre-made lasagna.
All of that is b.s., of course. I prefer to think that if someone had pointed out these things that I would have recognized them for the crap they were...because the deep self always sees clearly.
But you know what?
I did what I could at the time.
I really did my best.
In general, I work hard, I push myself, I love to grow and improve. I'm an achiever. (And I bet you are, too.) Give us a standard, and we will meet and exceed it! We're just wired this way. Right?
But we can't do everything at once.
So I think I fell out of love with Scott Stabile's quote because it's actually pretty harsh. It's harshing my vibe. You see, I am hard enough on myself without this kind of black-and-white thinking. It's like shining a flashlight into my own eyes or swinging a hammer down on my thumb or burning my palm when the hot chunky soup explodes the lid off the blender (which actually happened this week).
Being hard on myself is actually part of my b.s. - and I'm working on it. As a card-carrying ninja hippie, I care deeply about personal development. I'll always endeavor to improve, and it always begins with awareness.
So I'm not smugly blaring Scott's quote all over the place. I could really get behind it and use it as possibly persuasive evidence for why everyone should hire me right now (!) so they can eliminate their b.s. and really grow, man.
Instead, I prefer that we speak to ourselves with kindness. I prefer that we remind ourselves that, mostly, we're really doing the best we can. And I think our deep selves know what we're up to, and I trust them to nudge us when it's time to grow a little bit more.
P.S. I may disagree with myself tomorrow. But what do YOU think about this b.s. business? To what are you committed? I'd genuinely love to know.