I’ve been traveling for the past 3 weeks, hanging out with my nephew in Seattle, chilling with college friends in Hood River, and finally settling in Portland for a few weeks to try out a different lifestyle.
To be really honest, it hasn’t been a productive couple weeks for me.
The lifestyle in general is way more relaxed than what I’m used to. My husband is on vacation, which means he doesn’t even check email. On the other hand, I’m trying to run a business while traveling. And those of you who have your own business would understand that there is no such thing as a real vacation where I can drop everything.
It’s been a struggle to give myself permission to be unproductive.
Not only I struggled with not doing things related to work, I just struggled with not doing things, period! When I decided to unplug from work, it only took me half a day to get really bored and restless. I quickly filled up the empty space that work had left behind with things a vacationer would do – hiking, visiting breweries, eating at trendy restaurants, taking tons of sunset pictures, and catching up on movies.
The truth is, I define myself by what I do. I just do different things in different modes.
The first day we went back to work while staying in Portland was a tough day for me. Unlike a lot of people, I didn’t dread going back to work. What I dreaded was the inability to go back to my routine – I didn’t have a pottery studio to go to, the yoga class I like is an hour away, the pole dancing class I wanted to do is only available on the weekend, and the bouldering class I want to do conflicts with the only meeting I have!
I am all a sudden stripped from everything I do that defines who I am.
I was left with this empty, spacious, and scary feeling. I was forced to find myself, only based on my being.
We all define ourselves by what we do in our everyday life, because it’s way easier, it’s tangible and we have evidence of it. But as soon as the things we do disappear, we feel lost and confused
We are more than what we do.
Who we are is eternal. We don’t need to do anything to achieve who we are, and it cannot be taken away even when we stop doing. In that moment of realization, we can feel peace.
For me, that day of intense discomfort when I couldn’t find anything to do was a moment of realization. I can force myself to do something for the sake of doing something, so I can be defined by something. The alternative was to take a hard look at how have I been defining myself, with all these things that I do.
That moment was a big flashing stop sign telling me to stop and look, and I did. It doesn’t mean I will never go back to doing things. That moment of emptiness and fear happened to tell me something, and my part was to notice. It simply gave me a choice.
Here’s a flashing stop sign. Take a breathe, stop, and pay attention. How are you defining yourself by what you do? Share with me in the comment below
As featured in