One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year was to embrace things being ‘okay’ and stop striving for perfection. I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last couple of weeks, and something a friend said to me recently really resonated with me. We were talking about how people often strive for perfection in relationships and sometimes end up in a ‘grass is greener on the other side’ situation; wondering if being with someone else would give them that romantic comedy relationship – windy walks along the beach holding hands, belly laughs, riding tandem bikes around European cities and being woken gently on a Saturday morning with a cooked breakfast. Perhaps they wonder if the guy at Starbucks who always gives them extra whipped cream and calls them ‘babe’ would nag them for how many pairs of shoes they own, or for leaving empty cartons of orange juice in the fridge. Maybe the guy with the floppy fringe who works in IT would bring them a glass of wine and a bar of Galaxy because he just ‘knows’ it’s been a hard day at work. Perhaps conjugal bliss is out there and waiting, and they shouldn’t settle for just ‘plodding along’.
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This doesn’t just extend to relationships – I think many of us feel the same about the jobs we’re in. I can’t help but curse those full time bloggers when I’m sat in gridlock hell queuing to get into Southampton; imagining them swatching lipsticks whilst I listen to the traffic news and stress about whether I have a parking space at work. I imagine that maybe I was born for some kind of cool creative job; sipping green tea in a trendy board room and brainstorming ideas for campaigns whilst stroking the office dog. In my dream office there’s unlimited snacks and sweets, a gym (to burn off the sweets), beanbags and a drinks trolley on Fridays. I’m sure there are some people who work somewhere like this (boo to you Google employees) and I am cross with you because I don’t, and actually, I’m cross with me because I don’t. It makes me feel like I’m not trying hard enough, or not living my best life. I look over the fence at that green grass – I’m sure I can see a drinks trolley being wheeled by in the distance, and hear the office dog barking.
“The problem with most people is,” my friend said. “They think of their relationship, or their job, or whatever, as their whole grass.” She explained that she feels like your grass is all of the components of your life together. You can’t have such an awesome, mind-blowing relationship that it makes all of your grass green on its own. But you can have a pretty good relationship, some awesome friends, an alright job, and a few holidays a year (or whatever it is that get you through the winter months)… and that’s what makes your grass green.
I like this idea a lot because it speaks to a couple of things I’ve been thinking about recently. Firstly it helps me on my quest to accept that things can just be ‘okay’ – you don’t have to have everything absolutely polished because life is about the sum of its parts and you don’t have to rely on your career or your relationship or your hobbies to bring home all of the happiness bacon.
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Secondly it reminds me of something I heard Elizabeth Gilbert say on a podcast recently – she said that there’s a lot of pressure to make your passion into your career, and to get paid for doing the things you love. (I’m paraphrasing here). The point she was making is that it’s okay to have pet projects and enjoy them for what they are without having to turn them into a daily hustle. It’s okay to work in an office, or a Primary School, or a supermarket, or whatever – and have a blog, or be awesome at painting, or be able to make handbags out of fluff without having to get paid for doing so. I feel like there’s this huge pressure these days to quit your day job and sustain yourself by doing what you love, but Elizabeth says ““Honor your creativity so much that you don’t demand it to provide for your entire life.” – which I love. Sure, I might not get paid to travel the world or write angsty poetry but my day job is pretty alright – I get to work on things I’m interested in, I like the people I work with, and working flexitime and having a generous annual leave balance means I can go on lots of trips and holidays (to give that grass a bit of sunshine).
From now on I’m going to be working on accepting that all of the different ingredients of my life make up a pretty good picture – and embracing the fact my life doesn’t have to be perfect and instagram-worthy all of the time. The grass isn’t always greener over the fence, and the thing that makes your grass greener than everyone else’s, is being grateful for what you have, and investing time and effort in the things that make you happy. (And I bet that guy in Starbucks girls calls all the girls ‘babe’, and beanbags are totally impractical as office seating).