On Letting Go
Since most of my work posts have and will continue to be on the YupGup blog, I’ve decided to claim this space for myself—sans design talk. It’s exciting and refreshing just to think about.
I’ve been reflecting a lot lately about the idea of letting go, both out of necessity and comfort. Letting go has definitely defined my year so far and I wanted to capture all the moves I have made in this spirit as I feel like without it it’s too easy for me to overlook the progress I have made.
For the most part this shift was inspired by hitting close to what I would call “rock bottom” and reading many mindfulness-type books over the past few months, such as:
- Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan For Finding Peace In A Frantic World by Mark Williams and Danny Penman
- Mindfulness: A Practical Guide by Tessa Watt
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
My primary takeaway from these types of books is not to stop caring about things, but to be much more aware and selective in regards to what I choose to care about and spend my time and energy on.
I’ve had to significantly cut back on my work and volunteering hours this year as well as change my primary focus and tasks. I found that I could no longer totally keep up with the latest front-end development happenings. While I enjoyed doing that for several years it was very stressful and distracting for me. Working full-time also caused a lot of issues within my family life and none of it was sustainable.
I committed to focusing more on visual design, branding, and graphic design while taking on a flexible part-time schedule. I was breaking myself in many ways trying to be so good at so many things and I truly feel as if I lost sight of my real priorities in the process.
It’s not a perfect situation. I make less money so far and find that I am more isolated than ever, but it has all been a tremendous step forward in trying to correct and heal from the way things were.
My dad is very ill. This is a man that became my only dad by choice when I was a toddler and it has been a long, gutting experience. My parents live in Arizona, very far from us. I can’t be with them and struggle with feelings of guilt, uselessness, and in a way, abandonment.
My life does not allow me to physically be there for them and while I wish this wasn’t the case I realized I have to let this turmoil go and just do what I can. I send helpful gifts like nice overnight bags and portable phone chargers for hospital stays. There is an open invite that I will have dinner delivered on days where chemo visits run long. I can contribute but it has to look different from how I originally thought it should.
Friendships are great and necessary, but they are also an investment that require time and effort. There is a huge part of me that wishes these relationships could look like they did before becoming a parent, but it doesn’t and can’t ever be that again.
I suspect that I have become a fairly flaky friend. Scheduling a get-together can seem so perfect and exciting in the moment but when that time actually roles around I could be in a completely different situation—exhausted, under a work deadline, being pulled into a family obligation. I also have to try and plan my schedule around the very unpredictable schedule of a six year old that seems to be a germ magnet at school.
I’ve had to learn to let this idea of friendship based on a life I haven’t lived for six years go. I’m not able to do too much, it’s possible I will have to cancel, and they may never have my full attention. And that has to be OK. I am becoming more open about this and have found that the people I call friends now are pretty understanding. It looks different but it works.
I played sports a lifetime ago in school but did not continue those hobbies into adulthood. I also have never been a gym person. This was fine throughout my 20s but I can honesty say that it’s not an option anymore. So, for my physical and mental health, I committed to going to the gym regularly this year.
There were endless excuses at first, like: not enough time in the day, allergy free food to cook, work to do, things to clean. I believe several times I just didn’t want to wash my hair that day. I became obsessed with excuses and at some point around March I got tired of them and the health implications were now undeniable. I had to let these excuses go and figure it out.
I started very slowly and was sore often. There were many times I would have paid someone to be allowed to not go. But eventually a weird thing happened where I was staying longer, doing more miles, and became deeply frustrated if I couldn’t make it for whatever reason. At this point I aim for four to five days a week and it has become one of my main priorities. I lose about 2 hours each day, which has forced me to be more efficient with my working hours and wake up extra early to get started.
The Past and Future
I haven’t yet figured out how to let go of my worry over the past and future, so there is not much to say here except I am more aware than ever that I spend too much time doing it and I want to stop.
Only recently have I realized how much time I spend festering and not being present. There is so much to take in, appreciate, and wonder about in any moment and I feel as if I have coasted through too much of my life not paying attention. I’ve been busy in a different place in my head while life goes by. This will be difficult to overcome but finally being aware of it puts me in a better position than I was this time last year.
I know that stress and tragedy are inevitable and I’m working on building the confidence needed to trust that I’ll be able to get through, freeing myself from getting stuck in a state of perpetual worry and hopelessness.
Both your memory and your ability to plan for the future are critical to the smooth running of your daily life, but they are also biased by your prevailing moods. When you are under stress, you tend to remember only the bad things that have happened to you and find it difficult to recall the good. A similar thing happens when you think about the future: stress makes you think that disaster is right around the corner, and when you feel unhappy or a creeping sense of hopelessness, you find it almost impossible to look to the future with optimism. By the time these feelings have bubbled through to your conscious mind, you’re no longer aware that they are merely memories of the past or plans for the future, but have instead become lost in mental time travel.
—Mark Willams and Danny Penman
Bye For Now
No longer viewing these instances as failures or shortcomings has been a big shifting point for me. Letting things go and accepting some things as they are has been one of the more challenging obstacles I’ve been faced with. I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist and am desperate and excited to change that because it’s harmful and not realistic.