One time I got asked what job I could be good at as a sort-of ice breaker question for a large group setting. I am good at my current job (high school teacher), but they wanted us to think outside the box and comment on more of an unnoticed ability. As other individuals started answering, I surprised myself with my response. Hi, I’m Bekah. I think I would make a really great logistics/delivery type person.
I get a lot of pride in planning the most efficient route- whether that be to accomplish several errands in one afternoon or the path of minimum money spent to get a college degree. I graduated from Bethel in three years, but only spent 4 semesters on campus. I discovered that tuition covered 12-18 credits each semester, so I took 18 credits every semester. Then my junior/senior year, I studied abroad and student taught as a 21 year old who can still (even now, 6 years later) pass for a pre-teen. When I think back on this decision, I feel equal parts pride and regret. College was not exactly a time in my life I would consider “fun”, but I learned a ton and saved tens of thousands of dollars which is worth it to me. I know I’m crazy.
I often make to-do lists and plans using Google Maps. I think about who lives in certain areas and what activities can be combined into the same chunks of time based on region. My brain does this without my consent. That’s why I think I might make a good delivery driver/navigator.
I also look at the world now through a lens of how systems work and how they can be improved, yet I tend to think in a very systematic form. The definition of efficient is “achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense”. For most of my life, this has been my subconscious mantra, and I wouldn’t be surprised if my husband had it written on my grave when I die. “Here lies Bekah Noble, a very efficient woman.” What a life.
The costs of efficiency though are that sometimes I get so worked up about creating the most responsible, valuable, appropriate, cost-effective plan that when it doesn’t work out the way it should, it deflates my whole experience and I can have a hard time snapping out of the defeat. Maybe if I spent less energy on crafting such a logical plan, I would be less heart broken when it didn’t work. Or, maybe I can spend the energy where it feels good, and learn strategies to navigate the inevitable bumps in the road. I am pretty confident that my anti-depressant has given me space to consider the second option more often.
Quite a few of my best friends are much more spontaneous than me and also more present. They seem to go with the flow much more often and actually enjoy wherever they ended up for the day, even if it cost them more money, was out of the way, wasn’t originally planned, etc. I have to admit I envy it. As productive as I can be, I think I would rather be known as someone who is present and enjoyable to be around.
I’m really learning to accept myself for who I am. The world needs people who like to make plans. I have strengths in weaving together visions, brainstorming, working out details, and getting things done. These are not bad things.
When I began going to counseling sessions, I never could have imagined that I would still be going nearly 4 years later. Granted, I don’t go as frequently, but I sort of view it as an oil change situation where I take myself in at least seasonally, sometimes more if something is triggered, to maintain wellness.
I think I truly believed that in a couple of sessions/hours, I could catapult myself back into productivity. In all honestly, 4 years is actually a relatively short amount of time to learn and unlearn and reflect and piece together a couple of decades of life lived.
What I’m learning now is that a lot of life doesn’t happen along the most efficient path. We aren’t robots in a computer system. We’re humans with all of the beautiful mess that being humans brings with it. Trial and error. Ups and downs. Good days and bad days. I aim for as much balance and moderation as I can, yet extremes still sneak up on me, and I have to re-group and re-center.
Giving myself space to name and validate my emotions, put my phone in another room, go outside, walk around the block, stretch, sing a song, write… these are all things that are really unproductive towards my goals of worldly appearances. However, they are the most productive activities I can do to practice mindfulness, be my best self, and actually be able to offer my strengths to a world that needs them because I have taken care of myself first.
Healing doesn’t happen in a straight line. Life doesn’t either. Give yourself grace on the winding road and learn from the curves and edges.