Photo above by rocknwool on Unsplash
I’ve had this space online for two years. I used to write most mornings before I went to work, so in 2019 I had hit the pink ‘Publish’ button 50 times. Looking back, I was surprised I’d amassed that many posts, and didn’t see any reason that I couldn’t keep writing at that pace in 2020.
Ha! We all saw what happened then.
The blog went quiet in April last year after New Zealand had gone into lockdown. A lot of people found their lives slowed down during this time. Without the social commitments we usually had, space opened up to read, to bake, to exercise, to learn something new, to reconnect with family, or simply to hide away and not feel guilty. Others in Aotearoa had a different experience. I was not at the supermarket, or cleaning an MIQ facility, or still working on the frontline at the airport. I was one of five essential workers at Ronald McDonald House South Island where we had 21 families staying with us. I had also agreed to coach the altMBA for a fourth time before I realised what the global situation would be. The lockdown was many things for me, but restful was not one of them.
As a student and then a coach, the altMBA has taught me many wonderful things. But one of the more insidious ideas I have absorbed since I was encouraged to take my writing public by this community was that I was the sum of work I put out. I must also continue to publish consistently, no matter the cost to my personal life. More work meant more chance of finding my niche, building an audience, getting better at my craft, and expanding my work.
That came at a huge cost. What you didn’t see is the militancy with which I led my life to be able to write so often in 2019. I was only as good as my most recent blog piece and what you said about it. Good friends who read this work hinted around the edges of this motivation, and how to look after myself when I wasn’t trying to find something else to publicly dissect. Writing did sometimes bring me joy. Other times, the weight of my own expectations crushed me.
I couldn’t write very often in 2020. Life had other plans. So I had to confront the self-help myth I believed: I must pursue productivity at all costs. In doing do, I refused to let guilt manipulate me out of the realisation that writing less was just better for me.
I have now set my mind on other things that don’t involve my public persona. I cannot easily measure my success, but maybe the things we can’t measure stand to be the most important.
I want to become a better wife. I want to read more and learn more. I want to keep fit, because it makes me feel strong. I want to challenge myself. I want to dissect several ideas I’ve just always ‘believed’ that don’t make so much sense anymore. I want to be kinder.
I want stronger relationships with people I love. More time to do what brings me joy. The writing of the wise to inspire and challenge me. More silence, less stuff. It is a privilege to be able to focus on these things, and I try not to forget it.
In other words, I’m trying to push against the myth that I will find my worth when I have optimised every area of my life. I’m well onboard with the philosophy of not beating myself up about this. These things are harder to put into a succinct resolution but striving for them is still worthwhile. They’re more personal, and more private. Maybe I’ll talk to you about them sometime. But I’m unlikely to write about them.
My rhythm of and reason for writing has changed. I’ll still show up here from time to time, and who knows what the year holds.
I would encourage you to consider how your life would unfold if you knew no one else was watching.
4 Replies to “Slowing down with intention”
Fantastic post Jemma. How insightful. You are so honest. Yes please don’t strive because you are worth so much more than your achievements. Your intrinsic worth and beauty are immeasurable and immovable. I could do well to take note as i head into my 7 day silent retreat! Xx
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Dang, Jemma, this is SO GOOD.
I think my favourite ever from your blog. Definitely got me noodling
Now, that’s a compliment Pete 🍜
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