To strive – to make strenuous efforts toward any goal: to strive for success.
Striving is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.
My primary school motto was ‘to strive and serve’ – work hard and give back to others - in essence, a conscientious and civically minded philosophy to instil in kids. But striving has connotations of more than just ‘hard work’; it’s
Straining, struggling, pushing sh!t up a hill.
Exertion, effort, slogging it out towards an outcome.
Lack of flow, an absence of ease, a bloody-minded battle.
For me, (you may be able to tell) it’s got some pretty strongly negative associations when I dig down into my relationship with the concept.
The fact is, I don’t want to ‘make strenuous efforts’ towards my goals. I want to feel passionate, lit up, called, driven, inspired, in flow. I want to feel an insatiable ache to get to where I want to be and a tenacious drive to achieve the things I’ve set out to do.
I want to feel that satisfying, wearying exhaustion after a huge day full of hustle and heart and hurry to get through everything – but not to battle.
And the thing about NOT striving is that the way that looks, and what that means for you, or for me is totally different; and for each of us it can be completely different from one day to the next.
And the whole, entire, huge, beautiful point comes back to acknowledging exactly where you are, and what it is you need at any given time, as I’ve had intimate experience with in recent months.
A few months ago, all of a sudden, I quite simply wasn’t able to operate in the way I have done for years.
I couldn’t do all the things I usually expect to be able to get done in a day, not even half of them. I couldn’t practice yoga or exercise at my usual pace or frequency, if at all. And all the beautiful, fresh, healthy food I usually love to fuel my body with suddenly turned my stomach and all I could fathom eating was brown rice and curry sauce or plain pasta.
You might have added up all those symptoms and worked it out already, and yes, I’m having a baby. :)
Having had a bit of a rocky fertility road, and going through a number of different treatments over the last few years before we eventually came to IVF, my body has been put through the wringer with A LOT of hormones and treatments and herbs. But nothing had quite the impact that this little love bug has had, and it totally took me by surprise.
My body very strongly and very instantaneously told me that there was a new order in town and that I needed to get used to the new way of things.
I’ve been called to take a softer, slower, more gentle approach, and it’s made me realise just how much I was doing before, and how little softness I was allowing myself.
I’ve shifted my focus to tune-in to what my inner guide is whispering to me, to actually pay attention to what I intuitively know I need more of. But you know what? It’s been REALLY HARD!
Changing your mindset to be comfortable with slower, softer, less – wow, that’s TOUGH. Well, for me it is anyway. But it all comes back to that sense of not striving, straining or battling through.
It’s been a really challenging process, full of a constant flux between frustration and acceptance. Because I know what I used to be able to get done. I now appreciate just how productive I was able to be and the sheer volume of what I was able to achieve in a day. And NOT doing and achieving that was like an open invitation for my inner mean girl - my ego - to pipe up and start her noxious nattering.
It’s so interesting to me that finally getting to a place that you’ve been aching to be in for years opens up so many unexpected challenges. And now it’s a day-by-day process.
Right now my focus is:
Giving myself permission to be where I am,
to love and enjoy being there,
or, as the case has been throughout the months and months of constant nausea,
to just do what I need to do to get through the day.
I’m constantly reminding myself that striving is not where I want to be, and in fact, pushing through actually makes me feel worse. And, you know, there is a certain sense of freedom in not having a choice in the matter.
For me, not striving has become an expression of self-love. It’s a commitment to be present enough with myself, conscious of what is going on right now and to prioritise what I (and my precious little bub) need.
It’s not a lack of hard work, or taking the easy way out; it’s embracing ease and flow, letting my heart guide me and being completely aware that every priority in my life has totally changed.
Basically, I’m giving myself permission to be where I am, and I want, I hope, that is something you can offer to yourself as well. No matter what your situation or stage in life, there is no greater act of self-love and kindness than to deeply and truly acknowledge and accept where YOU are and what YOU need.