On Monday, my first day without a job, I drove outside of the city to go hiking. I felt a deep pull from nature - calling me to take my lack-of-a-desk to the extreme and escape the skyline. I hiked to the top in silence, resisting the urge to listen to music, attempting to cultivate more white space. I walked briskly and happily, the fresh air seeping into my veins and invigorating me.
When I reached the top, I found a rock in the sun that looked like the perfect journaling spot. I sat down, took a deep breath, and prepared myself for some deep thinking and the outpouring of blog posts à la my pen.
What came instead, though, was anxiety.
I was overcome with the things I should be doing and the ways I could better use the time. To have this much freedom and lack of responsibility on Monday at 10:37 a.m. felt completely overwhelming. To relax in the middle of the week, without having earned it or having finished my to-do list felt foreign.
Like so many of you, I'm used to hustling for my worth. I live a work-then-play, veggies before dessert, water before coffee, to-do-list before rest lifestyle.
I realized, in this moment, that when we live this way, with an earn-our-keep mentality, play disappears. When we don't intentionally make room for rest, play and joy, they are vigorously pushed out by our inboxes, errands and workloads. They are pushed out by our constant hustling.
Why, I wondered, are we so convinced we have to earn our keep?
Chris and I have been listening to (and obsessing over!) Brené Brown's Power of Vulnerability Audible. (This isn't a referral link. It's just a strong recommendation!). She talks a lot about play and rest and explores tactics for cultivating it in our own lives. She talks about how we, as a society, are always busy and overly exhausted, because they're status symbols. She explains how she has begun to schedule time for play and rest intentionally, ensuring they happen regularly.
After being so anxious atop the mountain, I decided we were due for some old fashioned play in our house. I got crayons at the store and, after dinner, Chris and I dumped them on the dining room floor and colored. We listened to music, laughed, talked and completely lost track of time as we drew together.
Just two, 29-year-old adults sitting on the floor, coloring without intention or a goal.
We ended the evening feeling connected, relaxed and joyful. Were there tasks we could (should!) have been doing? Of course. Did we miss texts and emails? Yep. But we learned that by practicing creativity together, we cultivated more connection.
After that, on Brené's recommendation, Chris and I made a Venn Diagram for play in our lives. We each shared what we like to do for fun - what unproductive activities make us lose track of time and come alive. Here's what we found:
I was surprised to find how much we struggled to come up with ways we love to play. We do it so little that we've almost forgotten! Since creating it, I remembered that I love to garden, rollerblade, drive around with music on and climb trees, too. I've done these things so rarely in recent years that I forgot how much I love them.
After one evening on adult play, I'm no expert. But, I was reminded this week that we aren't hustling for our worth. We don't have to earn our keep. We were fearfully and wonderfully made. Each day, no matter how much we accomplish, is worth living. No matter our outcomes, successes and failures, we are enough.