By Janis Jaquith
Is it pathetic that my gray roots are showing? What about wearing yoga pants to the grocery store – are people thinking I should know better?
Women have always been subject to physical scrutiny and now there’s the added hell of being judged by our work/life balance. Lean into your career and neglect your family. Stay home with the kids and lose ground in your career. We’re zealots. We’re slackers.
I feel like I’m tap-dancing for an unseen audience, hoping I’m good enough. Good enough for what, I’m not sure. To occupy space on the planet?
There’s a button I keep on my desk. It says, “SPOILER ALERT: Everybody Dies.” Good to keep in mind, right?
So how about this for an ambition: to stop giving a rip what anyone thinks of me.
Imagine turning away from anybody’s opinion of you. Imagine how that freedom might change your life, make you rethink what you do and why you do it.
I often wonder about all those people who lived and died before us. Did their everyday busyness make them feel worthy? Surely, complicated lives filled with responsibilities have been going on since Homo sapiens appeared some 200,000 years ago.
Think about it: two hundred thousand years of to-do lists. Did our ancestors check off everything on their lists? I doubt it.
I wonder how much of the busyness of our lives is about our concern for what other people think about us rather than what we actually want out of life.
How many items on your to-do list are things you actually want to do? (My ideal list would include something about airline tickets to India and a reminder to mix up a batch of chocolate chip cookies and eat all the dough.)
In those happy moments when I ignore what other people think of me, I realize that the experience I’ve been working toward with all that tap-dancing is stunningly simple: a sense of ease. I want to acquire things and arrange experiences because I think I’ll feel better once I have those elements in place.
That feeling of ahhh, of satisfaction, it’s what we’re all looking for. We don’t have it now, but it’s coming, right?
Consider that the ease you’re looking for might already be here, but you haven’t noticed it. The chair you’re sitting on while reading this — it feels good, doesn’t it? Comfortable. And those regular breaths as your eyes sweep over these words. Also, it’s pretty sweet the way your heart keeps beating and you never had to put that on your to-do list.
Truly, it doesn’t matter if anyone else thinks you have earned a sense of ease, whether it’s from enjoying your own heartbeat, cradling a baby, or staying up all night to obsess over a project.
Our time for dancing on this planet is so short. Instead of tap-dancing for real or imagined critics, we might as well let loose and boogie to our own tune. And wear yoga pants while we’re doing it.
You may have heard Janis Jaquith’s radio commentaries on NPR-station WVTF in Virginia and nationwide on Marketplace. Her award-winning newspaper columns appeared in the late, lamented Charlottesville newsweekly, The Hook, as well as in Charlottesville’s Daily Progress. Her collection of radio essays, Birdseed Cookies: A Fractured Memoir, is available through Amazon.Share this post with your friends.