It has been an interesting journey to where I am now and I definitely think that my life is richer now and my experiences more meaningful than they were when I was an ambitious and successful 20-something. When I interact with friends who are still on the success treadmill, I do so with a mix of admiration for them and their efforts, and a complex gratitude, both that they are making a mark on the world, and that that life is no longer for me.
A matter of perspective is what it is. When I was first getting off the success treadmill, I was desperately sad and anxious and worried that I was losing all the accolades I had earned. And I had worked hard and genuinely earned them. But as I came to understand who I am and how I was to live now, and as I came to embrace that and to welcome when I was feeling good and accept when I was doing poorly with hopes it wouldn’t last long, I found that the times when I was doing poorly were less frequent. Largely because I was no longer assessing them as times when I was doing poorly. But also because my self-hatred had greatly diminished.
When I was taking mindfulness classes, I realized how much I was judging myself. How much I was striving. One of the core principles of mindfulness is that of non-striving. In reflecting on how important this has been, I have wondered if it hadn’t also taken the wind out of my sails. That I was working on non-striving so much that I wouldn’t make any kind of impact. But gradually I am making a difference.