Last night I opted to stay home rather than attend a party for the parents of my son’s hockey team. It’s sort of a parent wind-up to the 6 months of hockey season. And then today I opted to go for a 5 mile walk – in the bright sunshine, I might add – rather than attending my son’s hockey wind-up with my husband and kids. I thought both of these choices were fantastic. I avoided social interactions that would only drain my energy while I took care of myself by getting a good night’s sleep last night and plenty of exercise today. Win-win.
After lunch today, my husband and kids headed off for an afternoon of fun activities and treats at the aforementioned hockey windup while I headed out for a solo walk. I listened to a couple of Brooke Castillo podcasts, an upbeat indie playlist on Songza, and experienced pure happiness as I basked in the warm spring sunlight. As I entered the house after my walk, the phone was ringing. It was my husband asking if I wouldn’t mind bringing a few items to the soccer centre where the wind-up was being held. No sweat. I gathered the items and headed on over.
When I dropped off the computer cable and clothing items requested, my husband suggested that I shouldn’t have posted on Facebook that he and the kids were going to the wind-up while I went out for a walk. Guess he thought it looked bad that I did what I wanted to do rather than what I should do.
I have been avoiding the shoulds lately, upon the advice of my life coach, and I am much happier for it. I think everyone would be happier if they examined their expectations and discard those that don’t work for them. I believe that’s a should right there… Sorry about that.
I absolutely do not regret the choice I made to take these legs for a walk this fine spring Sunday. Further, I do not feel mom guilt over not going to this event. One of the intentions that I set for the year as a result of The Desire Map process was choosing to live an authentic life, and to me, that means opting for activities that I like, and opting out of events that I feel obligated to participate in and that create a sense of dread, not enjoyment. That doesn’t mean that opting out is necessarily the right thing in every case, but today, it was right for me.
Here’s what I thought about before declining this event:
1. Is the event about me?
In this case, absolutely not. The event is about my son as a member of his hockey team, and, to a lesser extent, my husband, as an assistant coach on the team. My son will be hanging with his friends, playing ball hockey, as will by daughter. They will not notice that I’m not there because they’re having fun. My husband, an extrovert, would probably appreciate that I’m there, but honestly would not be spending his time at the event with me anyway and really won’t miss me.
2. Do I enjoy spending time with the people involved?
I really dislike the coach of this team and want nothing to do with kissing his ass, which is what the team treasurer tends to turn the wind-ups into (this is our fourth year my son has played on this coach’s team, so I’m speaking from experience). There are a lot of great parents on this team, and while I do enjoy spending time with them in smaller groups, I’m not friends with any of them outside of hockey, and they’ll be just as happy hanging with each other with me not there. No one is missing me, and I am okay with that.
3. How do I want to spend my time and energy?
I am making a concerted effort to manage my energy in a way that maximizes it. I am an introvert, so interacting with people drains my energy. I will still choose to go to get togethers, but I am becoming increasingly selective in which events I attend. A hockey wind-up with people that I only know casually, where kids are running around, making tons of noise, and I have to celebrate a coach who I think is not particularly good, not for the fact that he volunteered – which is totally awesome and I appreciate his time – but for how great he is at developing character in the kids on the team – which, he is not great at. He has asked kids on the ice why they are smiling, because, “This is not supposed to be fun.” I want to spend my time doing something that makes me feel good.
4.What activities do I want to participate in?
I am signed up for a 10k at the beginning of May and had a 5 mile walk/run on my schedule today. With the forecast being amazing for this afternoon, I wanted to go out there and feel joy at being outside rather than choosing a time that would be cooler and simply not as fun for me. I choose something that got me outside, got me moving, brought me closer to the healthy life that I want to live, and gave me the opportunity to listen to podcasts on growing as a person. This is awesome! Attending an event where I eat junk food and make small talk is not so enlivening to me.
Hey, we all have the opportunity to make choices that make us feel good and help us achieve our goals every day. Those choices may not be in line with what other people expect, and I’m okay with with that. A little flak from my husband or acquaintances about making choices that don’t meet their expectations is worth it because I’m committed to living a life where I am happy more often.
What choices have you made that people may have not agreed with? In this vein, check out Jolene’s post on her non-traditional wedding. This could have been a decision that others didn’t support, but it sounds like she is surrounded with people who get her, and that is pretty wonderful. Kat also seems have figured out that you want to be surrounded by your people and that it’s okay to embrace the relationships that work and let go of the ones that don’t.