If my week had a theme, this would be it – letting go. It’s popping up everywhere and I’m giving it a lot of thought.
It was brought home to me in a very concrete way by a conversation I had with a couple of other moms in the schoolyard. We all felt we wished we could be less “nice” – more blunt and assertive and just tell people what we think. However, my other wish was also to just be able to let things go more often (and genuinely let them go; erase them from my mind and not let them bug me). I guess, if I had to sum up, my goal would be (a) let things go more often (b) when I can’t let go, be assertive. Easy right?
The other way in which I was thinking about letting go came as I heard the news that Tumblr is now banning pro-anorexia, bulimia and other self-harm blogs. If you don’t know about these blogs, that’s probably a very good thing. I do happen to know about them – the “pro-ana” blogs anyway. In trying to muddle through the first manuscript I ever finished, and attempt to portray anorexia in a truthful manner, I read a couple of these blogs. Not surprisingly, they’re disturbing on many levels. However, what really struck me from the content is how much anorexia is about not letting go. Not letting go of anything. Not letting go of control over your body and what you put in it. Not letting go of an unattainable body image goal. Not letting go of “ana”. While I knew that before, I really noticed it now as a much older person who hasn’t starved herself in nearly 20 years. (For those who don’t know, I lived with anorexia starting when I was 10, fought it on-and-off well into university and now can probably best refer to myself as a recovered anorectic. That’s to say, no longer living or behaving in an anorexic manner but knowing much of my life is shaped by the fact that I once did).
Anyway, reading the anorexic diary of “what I ate” and “what I’m going to eat” and the obsession with all the setbacks and obstacles along the way kind of reminded me of my journey through querying. At it’s peak, it can be a near-obsession. It can control my mood and make me focus on tiny details.
I guess what I’m saying is we’re probably all pre-disposed to be a certain way and that can apply to good things and bad things in our lives. Being driven and focused is great. Unless the focus of your drive is on trying to make yourself weigh 110 pounds no matter what.
I would probably not have finished the work I have, or sold the work I have, or won the contests I have if I wasn’t the way I am. Self-motivated. Controlled. If I didn’t have more than my fair share of willpower.
But it’s not all that. Letting go is good. Letting go is needed sometimes. Letting go lets you see the forest for the trees.
I’m getting better at it – I’m recognizing the trait in myself which is surely the first step – but there are still those moments when I can’t let go. When I think if this particular agent doesn’t send me an offer right this minute I will explode.
Right now I’m in a letting go kind of place and, I have to tell you, it’s a much easier way to live.
The trick is letting go without giving up. Pushing forward while enjoying the ride. Does anyone else have to work hard to maintain their balance on that fine line?