What’s your job?
Is it your day job? Your role as a family member? Is it your place in your community, or your cover band, or your co-ed bowling team?
You probably have many jobs, and I bet they’re for the most part good, productive, salutary things to do with your time.
But your primary job? Your primary job is to take care of yourself.
Whoa, whoa, whoa, you’re thinking. But hold up. I don’t mean “taking care of yourself” in some Ayn Rand, screw-everyone-else kind of way.
“Your primary job is to take care of yourself” doesn’t mean working on things other than yourself is unimportant. Of course not. There must be a balance between inner and outer work, between optimizing your inner life and serving your community and your sphere of influence.
But let’s assume for a moment that your primary job is to do the work of becoming a functional, aware, human person.
This is not a revolutionary idea: get to know yourself, integrate yourself, get your own shit together so that you can be of service to the world.
And there are many, many ways to carry out that work, many tools and strategies at your disposal, whether it’s meditation, or poetry, or a movement practice, or raw macrobiotic smoothie making.
Frankly, life’s just better when you’re getting it together. Embrace that role.
Okay, so, your job is to work on yourself. If you’re still with me on this point, then let’s pose a second question:
What’s the job of the world?
I’ll tell you. The job of the world is to do the other 23,091,284,013,203,948,320 things that aren’t you working on yourself. So of course the world is going to judge you harshly for doing your job.
Because the world is composed of an insanely large number of things that aren’t you working on yourself, naturally the world is going to be at odds with this thing that is you working on yourself.
As a result, it shouldn’t surprise you that at just about every turn, the world presents you with reasons, implicit or explicit, that you’re not doing a good job. Or that you’re doing the wrong job. Or both.
So yes, you’re doing a terrible job at all those things the world is telling you you should be doing—the expectations, the pressures, expectations, ideals—all the things that make it through the lens and filter through which you see the world and make sense of it.
Please, adjust that lens so you can more clearly see and process what the world is asking of you. And use that filter the best you can to stem the flow of demands the world’s placing on you.
Then, make a good effort to answer some of the world’s expectations and match some of its ideals.
But at some point you have to accept something:
The world will never be satisfied with your work.
Because even if you cross off a handful of the world’s demands, there’s still going to be roughly 23,091,284,013,203,948,315 demands left.
So don’t be so hard on yourself.