Cutting myself some slack

I’m tired of wearing hats that aren’t mine to wear.

Like accountant, immigration lawyer, marketing guru, social media genius, SEO pro, management consultant.

They are sexy, intriguing titles, but they aren’t me.

In my 20’s my job required me to have a certain level of expertise when it came to taxes and immigration for US residents working overseas. It gave me a leg up when I took the plunge and moved countries, and enough knowledge that I could do my own US expat taxes. Then life got more complicated, beyond the scope of what I had experience in, and I still thought I could do it anyway.

That little ego trip cost me over four grand in accounting fees to get my taxes in order.

Aside from costing me money, it doesn’t make a lot of money either.

I should know this. My husband and I started a brick and mortar business 6 years ago, and after 4.5 years we had to close its doors because the two of us were trying to do it all then too. I was once again trying to be the accountant, legal liaison, investor relations, business plan writer, web developer, community outreach, and cleaning lady. He wore an equal number of hats, and we couldn’t do it all well, (and still stay married).

He has since regenerated the business, with a TEAM. PEOPLE that round him out so that he can focus on what he does well, and they can do what they do well.

Amazing.

It’s not rocket science, but sometimes you have to really slow things down and see things from another perspective because your standard MO of ‘crazy-town’ feels so natural.

I learned a trick from Rachael Maddox in the context of trauma-sensitive sales, and from what I can tell, it applies across the board.

There’s three questions you can ask yourself that I’ll paraphrase:

Safe: Do I know what I’m doing here?

Ideal: Do I like what I’m doing here?

Doable: Do I have the time, money, energy, and other resources to do this and do it well?

I can’t even tell you how much this is rocking my world. I’ve put myself in a number of situations where the answer to all of them was No. And while I believe there is a time and place to stretch yourself, bite the bullet, or make do with what you have in the name of growth, character development, and resourcefulness, those weren’t my reasons.

Survival was more like it. Not so much life or death survival, but the, ‘I have to do this otherwise my fragile sense of self will fall apart.’, version of survival.

I always did well in school as a kid, and there was an unspoken expectation that whatever subject came my way, I could ace it. College was a little more challenging, but my typical liberal arts education was spread over a wide range of subjects ranging from Chemistry, to Adolescent Psychology, to Architecture, and Wine Tasting. And in that setting, there was definitely an expectation that you had to excel at it all.

In my career I’ve kept my basket very full and varied, both in corporate employment and working for myself. The variety kept in interesting.

What I’m realizing now is that if I continue to wear all the hats, I’m asking too much of myself. While it’s what I needed at some point, for my own self worth, and the realities of starting from scratch; now it’s a stress that keeps my nervous system on high alert. It’s a burden I no longer want to carry.

So I’m cutting myself some slack. I no longer have to wear the hat unless it fits; unless it is safe, ideal and doable.

At Embody we’d call this Pleasure. Does it feel good even if it doesn’t look good?

I may think it makes me look good to be able to brag to my friends that I can do my taxes AND my immigration applications. I may think it makes my balance sheet look good when I write the marketing copy, and make the pretty pictures, and facilitate the event.

But feel good? Hell no.

Taxes and immigration applications make my insides go all haywire and my adrenaline shoot through the roof. I’m a bitch to be around, my house turns into a zoo, and I pace back and forth to the kitchen.

Executing an event from concept to creation, facilitating it, and doing all the follow-up? Ugh. My shoulders sag, my eyebrows furrow, and it feels like there’s a ball of lead in the pit of my stomach. It’s enough to stop before I start, which I have.

Hiring experts in technical areas of knowledge that I have no interest in mastering? Aaaaah. It’s like sipping cool coconut water as I sunbathe on a Thai beach and people-watch. My body relaxes into the warmth of the sun and the lounger that is holding me.

Having a partner to co-create with who is more visually creative, verbally concise, and understands the ins and outs of sharing messages that connect with people? And enjoys being on their phone and social media all day? It’s like a night out where the DJ just keeps getting better and better. My body is electrified, buzzing, with enough energy to get me through a marathon of events.

This is what I’m aiming for. No more shaming myself that I am not the best at everything. No more punishing myself by making myself do it anyway.

Doing what I can with what I have. Forgiving my mistakes. Loving myself anyway. Cutting myself some slack.

Photo by Conner Ching on Unsplash

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