Simple Living // When is complexity good?

This is one of those blog posts that probably won’t have a nice, tidy resolution. These thoughts are simply that — thoughts I am currently muddling over.

I admire people who appear to be absolutely singular in their focus. I see the Olympic athlete who has her eye on the gold medal, and everything about her days and nights are pointed toward that one goal. I admire the professional artist or writer who spends his days deep in his craft. I have wonderful friends in the homeschool community who seem to be completely immersed in curriculum and child development and incredible adventures with their kids. I crave that sense of individual purpose, and I imagine that when one is devoted to a goal or lifestyle, that person feels incredible satisfaction and contentment. I, on the other hand, seem to jump from interest to interest, task to task, like a honey bee in a flower garden. I frustrate myself with my ever-changing enthusiasm.

In reality, many Olympic athletes have publicly shared the terrible blow to their mental health that resulted from years of having only one mission, one purpose, one source of personal worth. They talk about the deep exhaustion, the burn-out, and the sense of being trapped, many of them at a very young age. Similarly, parents often talk about the feeling that they have lost themselves in their devotion to their children. As a doula, I talk to parents about maintaining some of their interests, activities, and hobbies throughout parenting as a way to maintain creativity and joy, and a parent who pursues personal interests models perseverance and self-care to the children. That’s good!

I know it is healthy and normal to be a complex human being with many interests. Yet…I beat myself up for having many interests and a variety of goals. Since I was very young–probably around 10–I have felt upset with myself for not being singularly focused. Don’t get me wrong. I was a good student; however, I would still yell at myself internally, convinced that if I would just stop being interested in other things, I would be the BEST student. Thirty years later, I battle the feeling that if I would stop my other interests (and businesses), I could be the BEST mom. And of course, I believe my children deserve the very best I can be.

I am taking the week of March 8th (today) as a time for reflection and planning (with a good dose of organizing and decluttering). I need to think about what activities are an expression of my individuality and my gifts, while taking a good, hard look at the ones that are distracting me from my purpose and my priorities. Ugh…that sounds hard. I’ll let you know how it goes!

It’s like fruit. Stick with me here. A perfectly ripe piece of fruit tastes like heaven. It’s perfect. The texture is just right. The flavor is incredible. It’s simplicity is part of the pleasure it brings. But sometimes, we intentionally complicate fruit. To apples, we might add a delicate dough, sugar, cinnamon, and butter, and we have a delicious pie. You could say the elements of the pie distract from the perfect apple. Or you could say they enhance the apple. I’m trying to puzzle through what pieces of my current life enhance who I am as a mother, wife, and human being and which ones distract me from the life I could possibly build.

4 thoughts on “Simple Living // When is complexity good?

  1. Oh Erica, like you I’m all over the place in my interests and my goals. I also feel I lack focus and have a hard time sticking to any one thing. But I also find that what distracts me stays the same, over and over. Maybe that’s where my interests really lay? It could be the same for you. Just know I’m here for you and together maybe we can figure some stuff out.

      1. Loved the blog post and I can relate!
        I also love Carrie’s comment, above…
        I think you’re making warm apple pie! 😉
        Heyyyy…that reminds me of the name of a realllllly sweet little blog. ♥️Tracy

  2. Me too. Jill of all trades here and you know the second part….
    Quick story: my son was accepted into a PhD program right out of college. He was almost finished with his Masters when one of his advisors told him he had too many other interests to be a good PhD candidate. He was furious and doubled down on studying to finish. And ultimately decided that she was right. He got his Masters and dropped out of the program. He had 5 years to go back but never did. He’s happy with a great job and lots of interests and now thinks it was the best advice she could have given him. God made us all different, and sometimes it takes years to see his plan for us…Thank you for thinking deeply on this. 🙏

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