Monday, March 24, 2014

12 in 2014: Winding Down March

More time to breathe.
March is almost gone already. Compared to February it flew by. Spring weather is slowly asserting itself in Shanghai, and there have been some lovely days for long walks. There have been some cozy, rainy days too, perfect for a warm cup of coffee and an afternoon of painting.

This month, I have endeavored to tear myself away from living a digital existence. Less looking at art on Pinterest, more making my own. Less reading about growing and learning, more of doing just that. To accomplish these things, I set myself a goal of spending two (idle) hours online a day. It has been a struggle. I haven’t succeeded at following this goal to the letter, but I haven’t wasted time either. 

By creating an environment where I am mindful of my time spent online, I have gained some insight into why I spend so much time on this. Essentially, doubt and fear are at the root of my pervasive procrastination. Doubt of my capabilities and skills.  Fear that my goals and dreams are in fact unfeasible. By spending time online, I am letting my skills degrade and my work languish, so these anxieties become self-fulfilling prophecies. 

Why self-sabotage this way? Because, in a perverse way, there is a comfort in being unremarkable. With no great power, there is no great responsibility. No great expectations or standards to strive toward. Being unremarkable means you can live a quiet, comfortable, but boring, life. As an introvert, that life poses an almost irresistible temptation, but ultimately, not really what I want. I’ve acknowledged my instinct to nest quietly, and, putting that urge aside, have seen that I would rather live a remarkable life. I, after all, am a rather unusual person, who likes unusual, remarkable things, and I don’t want to waste that. I may not be a grade-A networker, full throttle 24/7 kind of person, but I have something to offer in my own subtle, quiet way. I want that remarkable life. 

So, I’ve gradually become better at managing my time, and doing the fulfilling, tangible things I’ve been wanting to do. Painting, exercising, photography walks, business research. And then, when I’ve done enough, I browse the internet. I scroll through design blogs, or Flickr, or wedding planning articles. It recharges me when done right, in small doses. And that’s okay. 

I have spent more than two hours online most days. But that wasn’t the point. This March has been fulfilling and enlightening in ways I couldn’t have predicted. At their essence, resolutions and goals are about shaping your life the way you want. I’m still in the process of sculpting, and I haven’t worked out the fine details yet, but I’m on my way. 

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