Earlier this week, in an effort to occupy B’s time, we went through all of the photo albums on our bookshelf. And really, when I say “we went through” it was more like I let her flip through the pages, which meant grabbing pages in bulk and missing everything in between. We were done in fifteen minutes or less. A whole life’s worth of photos, reduced to fifteen minutes.
Girl can’t even read yet and she’s got speed-reading down to an art.
But, I digress. One of the albums has both our engagement photos and the photos we took on our honeymoon in Kauai. There is one photo in our set of honeymoon pics that has haunted me since we had it taken. I knew that photo was in there and was hoping that maybe it would get caught up in the page flipping frenzy so we wouldn’t have to see it. Of course, God has a sense of humor and sure enough, little B decided to pause right on the page with that one particular photo with just enough time for me to spot it and all the memories and thoughts to come flooding back to me.
What on earth must be in this photo, you ask? Here, let me show you (p.s. this is totally a photo of a photo so apologies for the resolution):
Yup, that’s the one. It appears to be a perfectly harmless photo, right? Just a newlywed couple, hiking in the gorgeous Kauai scenery. In just a few miles we would be at the base of a not-so-secret waterfall (no really, it’s actually called Secret Falls and literally EVERYONE who visits Kauai knows about it), drinking pineapple juice straight from a pineapple, wading in the water right up to the waterfall itself, living the dream. Sounds fab. I wish I could go back.
Seriously, though. I wish I could go back. You see, when I look at the photo above I am reminded of the type of person I was back then and who I am now…and while I’ve changed there are a lot of things that are the same. I wish I could jump back in time, take the old Katie by her shoulders and say “Relax! Enjoy this moment! It is going to be a long time before you get to do anything like this again!”
The truth is, when I see this photo I remember how much I hated wearing bikinis because my stomach had a weird pooch to it (I chuckle now as I look down at my stomach, which still has a bit of a pooch to it…called a BABY). I recall that I was so worried during the whole honeymoon trip because I was anxiously awaiting one of my CPA exam scores. I was checking my email constantly and found out that I had failed while we were at a Starbucks in Kapaa. Talk about a downer. Also, my husband had gotten into a minor car accident the week before the wedding so he was on the phone a few times with our insurance agent. And we were still recent college graduates who were enjoying our trip primarily due to the generosity of many family and friends…so money was a bit of a stressor. Those are the things I remember, because I let them get to me.
I have always been one to struggle with staying the present. Growing up, I was either beating myself up for mistakes I had already made or daydreaming about how life would be better in the future. The littlest things used to (still do, sometimes) stress me out and I would fret about the smallest mistakes, thinking that I had totally ruined something for somebody, somewhere.
In high school, one of my good friends told me I reminded him of Chicken Little. You know, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” While it took me by surprise to hear that, I am glad he said it when he did. We had that type of friendship where he never sugar coated things for me and now that I’m older I am realizing just how valuable (and rare) those types of friends are. I spent many years trying to fight that Chicken Little comment in my head and only recently learned to embrace it and accept the fact that it’s just a part of who I am.
When I first considered about leaving my public accounting job, a well-meaning mentor told me that I would feel overwhelmed with stress and pressure wherever I ended up working, because it is in my nature. I didn’t argue with that person at the time because I knew it was true, but it pains me to think about that conversation one year later. What a depressing and slightly condescending thing to say to someone. Basically, stay where you are because at least you can be miserable and work with people who understand how you are rather than going somewhere else, risk still being miserable and working for people that don’t get you. Like I had this problem that was going to make it difficult for others to work with me. Again, I get the logic to an extent, but:
Yes, I do get stressed easily. And yes, I do hold myself to a pretty high standard of performance. It took me becoming a mom, quitting my job and going through the ropes of feeling like a failure (read my original post HERE) to realize that these little nuances about myself are never going to go away. They are part of me, but so are positive attributes like my inherent desire to make people smile and feel good about themselves when we’re conversing. My overly-sensitive personality is a blessing and a curse, but it is up to me and me only to understand it and manage it.
I think that self-awareness is the first step towards self-acceptance. Before you can accept and love yourself, you need to first be aware of who you are. Your strengths and your weaknesses (or developmental areas, as they say in the professional world)…your achievements and your shortcomings.
I am a lot better at recognizing these things for myself and feel like I have calmed down quite a bit. Part of that is growing up, and a majority of it is just me going through life experiences which brought me to this point (like being told that I’ll have a stress problem wherever I go). With that being said, in the past week or so I have felt the all-familiar feelings of stress and overwhelmed-ness creep in around me. Same with the wishing for a better life in the future-ness. Just the other day I was telling my husband how I am looking forward to starting to feel like myself again. I’m the that point in this pregnancy where I am forgetting what it is like to look and feel normal, and I still have over a month to go. That’s why the timing of going through our honeymoon photos couldn’t be more perfect. Just like I wish I could go back and tell myself to live in the moment, it’s a reminder to look at myself in the mirror now and say:
“Relax! Enjoy this moment! It is going to be a long time before you get to do anything like this again! Who knows when you’re going to be pregnant again? Yes, you might not feel like yourself right now but you will miss the baby kicks eventually. And the quiet time where Bernadette is willingly playing in her crib? Also not going to last for much longer. The girls are going to grow up so fast, you will miss this time with them. Be present. Everything will work itself out.”
That’s my note to self for the day.
Have any of you had troubles staying in the moment, or is this an area where you feel like you’ve got it under control? I would love to hear about your experiences either way. :) Sound off in the comments below or shoot us a message.