We tend to romanticize this idea of finding our WHY as it relates to our professions or our careers. If we really dig into our why of what we are doing with our lives, we can find our calling. It will help us find our purpose. And I am not here to dispute or undervalue this.
However…I do think that over the last several years? It’s the little WHYs that are more important and informative in my life.
I’m going to use a very specific example of a very minor WHY in MY life and MY answers but this can be extracted in different WHYs in different lives. If your answers don’t match mine then don’t put much weight in this specific example, just come for the idea of digging into the minor WHYs – don’t get hung up on the specific ones I choose.
I woke up this morning and grumbled to myself about not wanting to clean my floors and wanting to read instead. Why did I feel like I needed to clean the floors first thing instead of read? “Because it’s a new habit I’m working on.” But…why was this a new habit? “Because it turns out it doesn’t take long and my floors get dirty so I should do it more often to stay ahead of the filth.” But…why is it so important to “stay ahead of the filth?”
Um…I don’t know.
It’s when we get to the “I don’t know” part of the WHYs that we really start to find some uncomfortable truths.
Now…sometimes the answer to this type of minor WHY is, “Cleaning to floor calms my brain and allows me to not be distracted all day by the messy floor.” And that is a very solid explanation that relies heavily on care and understanding of self. But for me? NOT AT ALL THE CASE. I have gone a whole month without cleaning one floor and no part of me or my family suffered from it. So…let’s get back to my, “I don’t know.”
For me…these type of “I don’t know” responses tend to fall into one of two root causes. That I’m either performing some task that society has made me feel like I am supposed to perform – in which case that is bullshit and not at all a good WHY and I need to subvert that shit. If I honestly don’t have any connection to that task or any way in which it improves my life, then screw society’s expectations of me and give me my book.
The other root cause I can sometimes stumble upon is that I assume things about other people’s expectations. Like, “My Aunt is coming over and she’ll judge my dirty floors,” or “‘My husband likes clean floors,” or “My book club is happening so of course I need to clean my floors.”
Now, obviously during the pandemic these outside-influences are not as frequent in my WHYs but I joyfully accepted a truth in the last few years as I’ve been doing some of this digging. I DO NOT LOSE SLEEP OVER THE THOUGHTS OF PEOPLE WHO WOULD JUDGE MY [insert domestic slight here]. Even if that person is my husband. There is no rule that says he can’t clean the floors if he likes clean floors.
(Sidenote: When he does clean the floors I get really offended but that is another deep dive into Kim’s brain for another day.)
I think of all of the houses I love visiting of my friends or family and there is absolutely no part of me who gives a shit about the cleanliness of the house. Obviously, extreme filth aside…but I am not the kind of person who gets icked out seeing dust. (And honestly? I’ve had some friends and family with some serious mental health issues manifesting in bad living situations and so I have a very high tolerance even for extreme filth.) I LOVE SEEING DUST! Because then I know you’re my person. So why do I care so much about other’s views of my home? I DO NOT! It turns out! So I’ve become way less preoccupied with scheduled cleaning tasks. I wait until something looks like it needs cleaning in a way that affects me personally and then I do it. Never before. If anyone in my house has a lower tolerance? They can do it while I finish my book.
So when I’m digging into my WHYs of my mundane life tasks and I end up at societal or social explanations, I ditch that thing to the curb. Over the last few years these are some of the things I’ve done to wrap myself in self-love and care.
- I am too tired to put on real clothes to go to the store so I’m wearing my pajamas and I challenge anyone I encounter to care.
- I just don’t like putting on makeup outside of a few minor pieces every once in awhile so I’m not going to feel pressure to do so unless I’m feeling personally inspired.
- However, I do love seeing shimmering nail polish on my fingers and so I’m going to wear the shit out that stuff because it brings me joy and makes me smile. (While wearing my pajamas at Target.)
- I’m not going to stress out about the dust on the walls in my bathroom. No one in my life is negatively impacted by that and at any given moment I’d rather be reading or painting my nails.
- I’m not going to worry about my kid’s health because I hate cooking. I give them meal options every night that might all come from a can or the freezer but THAT IS PLENTY. I don’t have to cook some sort of from-scratch meal to be worthy as a Mom or as a Woman.
I just really think that digging into the minor WHYs in my life have given me a lot more freedoms and helped me treat myself with love and kindness in much more impactful ways than any sort of inquiries into the WHYs of my PURPOSE or PROFESSION.