At Ignite Waterloo a guy gave a talk about “Why All My Ex-Girlfriends Are Crazy”. Of course, I was dying to know why.
The reason? They were women who having achieved at university and then started their career had got to a point in their lives where they no longer had the same level of stress professionally, so were creating it in other areas of their lives. Really, what the talk was about was that we all have a level of stress that we like to operate at and we seek out new stress if we are at a level that is too low.
This resonated with me, to the point that when I went to the chiropractor the following week and they asked what my stress level was I said,
High. And that’s how I like it.
Cue two people looking at me in absolute horror!
However, it’s completely true! Knowing this, I can be more aware of where I am creating stress and try and do so productively – i.e create stress in ways that does not negatively affect others (e.g. not by arguing with my significant other, but by taking on some new challenge instead).
Because of this search for stress, I’m always looking for the next challenge, the next thing. When things seem too good (by which I mean, quiet, post-achievement) I worry that everything will come crashing down. Maybe that’s why I focus on what’s next, rather than what is.
Sacha wrote a lovely post after our conversation last week about feeling like you’re living in a Greek tragedy – that things are too good and everything is going to fall apart. She is an inspiration because she thinks that things can just get awesomer and awesomer. She’s is a genuinely happy person.
I am not. At the moment I am – optimistic, productive, energized – about what I’m doing.
I wouldn’t describe myself as happy. I have happy moments, but I don’t know if I want to be happy in general. In fact, I worry that would kill my drive. Recently I wrote about how I’d prioritized an interesting over a happy life, and I still do. I think I fear an awesome life, because I worry that I would become complacent. Content. I’d stop jittering from task to task, inspiration to inspiration, and just be.
Oh the horror.
I realize that this may sound ridiculous. But I regularly have conversations with people where they say, “Cate, you do so much” and I look at them in blank bewilderment because compared to what I want to be achieving, what I think I should be doing. What I do barely registers. Because I’m always pushing forward to the next new exciting thing, the next challenge I rarely stop and take stock of what I’ve actually done.
So I fear being happy because I fear being in this moment rather than chasing the next moment.
Yes, OK, bizarre – but it seems to be what works for me.
Optimistic. Productive. Energized. Sounds about optimal.