Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Day I Was Spontaneous

I'm a big proponent of knowing yourself and working to your strengths. I'm tired of having a one-sided and rather homogeneous idea of what a Proverbs 31 woman looks like, or what a successful business person looks like, or whatever mold it is that you're trying to fit. In the words of Youtuber Connor Manning, "You do you."

I wish I'd known that when I tried to be social superwoman in late college and take care of everyone. I was lonely, and instead of continuing to wait for a group of friends to find me and sweep me off my feet, I went out and started a group of my own. While I'm glad I did, I also know what eventually resulted: burnout a year and a half later when I ran out of the energy to keep going.

I've learned that I'm not good at loving lots of people, but I'm really good at loving a few people deeply. I  can't make small talk, but I can go deep really easily. When I try to live up to a boss's expectations in every little detail, I stress myself into illness with perfectionism, but when I'm given creative license I know when to say, "it's good enough."

I'm learning to act on these strengths. I don't want to be someone who falls apart because all I'm doing is playing on my own weaknesses.

So the words that tumbled automatically out of my mouth one Sunday were completely unexpected. Chatting with a couple who are friends of ours, we were getting ready to leave when I asked, "Wanna get lunch together?"

Nic said later he was really surprised to hear me ask that. It's not the couple: they're some of the awesome people who come to our young adult game nights. Gregarious and fun, they play a vital part in adding to the laughter and making new people feel at home. I love them and have talked with them and gotten to know them plenty. So that wasn't the surprise. Rather, it's just not my thing to invite people to lunch on a whim.

Church makes me tired from all the small talk and trying to remember names. Sundays usually mean going home to regroup and eat before we do anything. In general, I struggle with doing things I haven't planned, because my introverted brain needs a heads-up before hanging out. I have to get my mind out of my stories and onto what's going on around me, otherwise I'm the world's most boring and awkward conversation partner.

But there we were that Sunday, going out with friends spur of the moment. We had a delightful lunch. We talked about all sorts of random things. We laughed. We had fun.

Despite everything people say about knowing thyself, sometimes it's good to break out of the box of what you know and discover something new. Yes, following a pattern in life is good. Both biologically and psychologically, humans run most efficiently when we're plugged into a routine. But sometimes good things happen when you step outside of the usual and try something new.

Why? Because your routine is not God. It is a guideline, not the golden embodiment of all that is good. It is not sentient and it does not have the capacity to love you; it just feels that way sometimes. A routine is something you make, which means it's limited by the bounds of your knowledge about yourself and the world. If you stick with what you know, you'll never learn anything new.

As with all things, life ought to be a balance. Some predictable and some new. Try something you've never tried before. You might find capacities you didn't know you had, or a new set of preferences, or simply a good time. And if it doesn't work out, you can always go back to what is safe later.

Word count: 651.