... is not something I'm very good at. I was brought up to believe that I can do anything and this self-confidence is a gift for which I am very grateful to my parents. However, it's all to easy to go from
everything and I have a bad case of volunteeritis. When asked, and quite often even when not asked, I'm all too inclined to think,
Yes, I could do that, and before I know it I've committed myself to yet another thing. This is even more of a problem now I don't have a full time job, so I tend to think I have a lot of time to spare.
So it is that I'm on the (proposed) village hall committee, I run book club and philosophy group, organize and promote live music events, and have a part time job. I also volunteered to help with the local school gardening club, but never quite made it there. This on top of growing our veg, cooking from scratch, foraging, making and mending where I can, and bigger projects that currently include replacing the conservatory roof and making solar panels. Perhaps it shouldn't surprise me that once again I have that familiar feeling of not being able to keep up with my own life.
A few recent conversations have shed some light on this. My sister and her family came to stay last week and chatting to my brother in law, I found him quite sympathetic to the over-commitment problem as he has the same tendency himself (with a full time job and two small children!) He commented that one contributing factor is having the attitude that you shouldn't complain about how other people are doing something if you're not willing to step up to the mark and do the job yourself. This is certainly something I agree with, and I can see times when,
I could do that better, has played a part in my volunteering. My sister, less sympathetically, said,
Well, you could do it all, with better time management. The most irritating thing about this comment is that it's true. It's an annoying habit my sister has - being right.
The third comment was made a couple of days later by my neighbour, who's known me for less than three years. We were talking about being argumentative, and I said that I no longer feel the need to react whenever someone says something I disagree with. He replied that I'm noticeably less abrasive than I was when he first knew me. Really? I've mellowed noticeably in such a short time? That's interesting.
On my recent excursion into my old life, I found the whole trip much more difficult than it would have been a few years ago. There was no time when travelling to Spain on my own would have been easy, but this time I felt I was having to make a big effort to
wind myself up to a
doing state of mind. I don't know whether that makes sense, but what I'm talking about is essentially stress levels. I used to operate at a higher level of tension all the time. This enabled me to get more done, and to manage difficult things, but also made me sharper and more abrasive in conversation. I believe I'm healthier and happier these days, too, and I'm sure being more relaxed is part of that.
So yes, my sister's right, I could fit more into my life if I really wanted to. The cost would be to wind myself up to operate at a higher stress level all the time, as I used to. When I look at it that way, I think that cost is too high. It's not so much that I can't do everything, the truth is that I don't want to.