I’ve never been a fan of wasting time. My actions are generally purposeful. Don’t get me wrong, I love to zone out and binge watch Netflix like anyone else but it still serves a purpose. I may watch TV to zone out from life for a bit and enter the world of Stars Hallow or Hogwarts, I may watch TV because I am feeling down and I want to laugh alongside Mindy or Chandler. Other times I may watch because the house is quiet and I just want some background noise. Even sitting around “being lazy” serves a very distinct purpose in my life so when I say I don’t like wasting time I do not mean I don’t like “being lazy”. No, what I am referring to is partaking in those obligatory events, the long meetings where nothing is accomplished, the conference or class where you learnt absolutely nothing new. The times where you continue to stare at the clock thinking “my goodness is this over yet?”
I believe that the sole purpose of life is to be happy. That means if I am reading a book and get to that boring middle part…I am no longer receiving happiness from the book so I stop reading. I can’t event begin to count how many books I have read half of. I also turn off movies. I leave events that I paid to be at. I don’t participate in obligatory events meetings etc. (with the obvious exception of work things….because overall my job makes me happy and if I were to not attend these events and lose my job that would make me sad).
I believe strongly that it is very important to have personal boundaries. I unfortunately learnt the hard way what happens when you suck at saying no to people. I’ve been abused, taken advantage of and left feeling worthless. I’ve endured things I never wanted to be a part of because “I felt I should be there” and I will never get that time back. Maybe some would say I am selfish, and maybe at face value it can seem selfish. “No I’m sorry, I do genuinely care for you but your birthday party plans do not appeal to me, I will not enjoy myself and I do not care to join you.” “Oh? Your doing yet another charity run and want me donate…im sorry but no.” “Thank you so much for the wedding invite…but I already rsvp’d to a wedding the week before and 2 weddings back to back…I dunno that sounds exhausting…my weekends are me time.” Do these sound selfish to you? Because they absolutely are not, no they are really a sign of setting healthy personal boundaries.
We see movies like “Yes Man” which tells us that we will regret the choices we don’t make more than the choices we do make. It tells us that we need to say yes to life and explore all the possibilities. But I really disagree. Saying yes to things just because you feel you should or you feel it is “the right thing to do” can get you into a lot of trouble.
Don’t put others before yourself. Please put yourself first. Because by doing that you will find yourself in a position where you want to help others. Its the airplane example, you need to secure your own mask before assisting others with theirs. You need to put yourself first. When I see my husband has had a long stressful day at work I will give him a nice massage because I want to, not because I feel obligated to but because I know it makes him happy and that in turn makes me happy. Happiness can be contagious so focus on making yourself happy and go from there.
I am so sad to see others (and moms seem to be so prone to this) completely run down. For example, they sacrifice time with their children to have a coffee with a girlfriend who is going through a crisis and needs to talk. These moms are thinking to themselves…what if I was in crisis? I would want her to be there for me so I need to be there for her. Maybe instead you need to think, I do not have the time for this but maybe we can have a telephone call, or maybe we can chat on Facebook. Maybe there is a way that I can still be there for her without sacrificing too much of my personal time.
Compassion fatigue is very real. and please don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy helping others. It is not uncommon for me to conduct suicide interventions, to be up at 2 am talking with my girlfriend who just left a relationship or to be meeting up with someone to lend them something. But I don’t do these things because I feel I need to…I do them when, and only when, I want to.
I see so many people just burnt out and I feel for them. I have been there. There was a time where I was working several jobs and was a full time student that volunteered over 12 hours a week at various organizations because I didn’t know how to say no. When someone needed a shift covered I was always there. It left me tired and worn out.
So when I say “I have better ways of spending my time” don’t judge me, don’t get upset with me because I’m not coming to your party recognize that I have personal boundaries and priorities. Please recognize that I spend the majority of my time at work or commuting to work and I only get 2 days with my family. That’s it. There are 168 hours in a week. I spend roughly 56 hours a week sleeping and another 51.25 hours at work or commuting to work. I only get MAYBE an hour with my son Monday-Friday between work and having to cook supper etc. and then I see him on the weekends but he is still young and takes naps. So of the 168 hours in a week I am LUCKY to spend 17 hours of it with my son (Or roughly 10% of my time). Can you believe that? The person that I love more than anyone else in the entire world. The person who I live and breath for only gets 10% of my time?? How would your boss feel if you only came into work 10% of the time? Its abysmal. How am I supposed to be there to help him learn to regulate his emotions, to help him learn new skills, to kiss his boo-boos and clap for his successes when I am never there? It is so disheartening. But unfortunately the government doesn’t just say oh you have a child now…well here, have a bunch of free money so you and your husband can stay home and just focus on raising your child. No we are grown ups who have to work to feed and clothe our child, and we are so blessed to have jobs we love.
So when I say I don’t want to go for coffee, I don’t want to help you move, I don’t want to go for drinks and no I do not want to be your plus 1 at a wedding, please realize that I am saying no because I need to put my happiness first….and my happiness comes from playing and laughing with my family. My no doesn’t mean I don’t care for you because OH MAN DO I CARE FOR YOU!! (If I didn’t I wouldn’t have you in my life plain and simple) it just means I need every second I can get with my son.