A couple of months ago, a friend of mine did a radio interview and she had to choose a single word on which to focus. She chose “priorities.” Her explanation resonated with me, which isn’t really surprising, as I’m sure that it’s part of the reason we’re friends, but the funny thing is that I keep coming back to it. I’ve had a lot of conversations about priorities lately and the word just seems so weirdly pertinent to my life right now. (My life always?)
The first thing that comes to mind when I think about priorities is lifestyle–and the choices we make that contribute to it. I will never be the person who says, “Must be nice!” (I swear that few more irritating, passive-aggressive comments have ever been uttered.)
While I realize that many things in life are beyond our control and, of course, it’s not always feasible for people to, say, up and journey across the globe, I also believe that if that were truly what said people wanted, they’d find a way of making it happen.
I’ve received lots of generous messages from friends and family while traveling, asking how it is that I’m able to visit so many extraordinary places. I usually say that I am very fortunate that I’m paid for doing what I love: Writing (particularly about action sports) has not only taught me a lot, but it’s taken me to remarkable locations and brought so many incredible people (above-mentioned friend included) into my life.
But you know what? Journalism–and especially that kind of journalism—is not a job into which you simply fall. I’ve worked hard for those experiences, and I’ve sacrificed things that most 30-year-olds take for granted (nice car, savings) in order to get them. Of course, I’m glad that I have, but the point is, when I had to choose between a 9-to-5 with benefits and a risky adventure, complete with a heap of credit card debt, I chose the latter. And that’s how I ended up in New Zealand, Indonesia, Singapore, Lisbon… It was just a choice–and for me, it was a no-brainer because that was what I wanted from life at the time.
Now, I don’t want exactly the same things, and it’s weird that I almost need to learn to be okay with that. But I still automatically structure my life around what’s most important to me.
Earlier this year, I was kinda-sorta seeing this guy who was “just so busy.” It was always a challenge to connect. At the time, I was also insanely busy, working three jobs, and he couldn’t see that (which is indicative of other problems) but what became clear to me was that he simply wasn’t prioritizing me. And that’s fine, because in his inability to recognize that I was, actually, carving time out of a very maxed-out schedule to spend with him, I was reminded that I am capable of doing that for someone I care about, and I’m happy to do it.
So, last night, I told someone that it’d been a while since I’d spoken with another friend, and when he asked why, I said that I wasn’t sure, and then suggested that we’ve both been busy. He said, “You’re not really that busy.” To be completely honest, it almost stung (a little), but in taking 0.4 seconds to gain perspective, I realized that he was right (as usual) and, no, I’m not really that busy right now. And perhaps that’s a survival mechanism, an offset to my crazy summer. Maybe it’s because it’s the off-season. (Sort of.) But it’s also, at least in part, the result of a decision to be less busy. I’d rather have the time to make chocolate chip pancakes and learn about superheroes, try new things, talk about not being that busy. (I just can’t use being busy as an excuse for not having seen people anymore.)
I don’t really do resolutions. However, I’ve always been pretty good at determining how I want to (and do not want to) spend my time and energy, regardless of how “should” spend my time and energy. It’s nice when other people are able to see and trust that, and occasionally even remind me that it’s okay when what’s safe or expected isn’t the same as what’s right for me. I think that maybe I just need to continue to do the same in 2015.
Maybe that “free time” I’ve been enjoying means working less, which also means spending less money (or spending it differently). It’s a give and take, right? That’s what priorities are all about. And when you do it right, it’s always worth it.