Not Doing

Not Doing

While going through some old correspondence this past week, I ran across two letters from two different friends (written to me when I was between 20 and 22) where they both described me as someone who sits back and lets things happen rather than making things happen, who lets others have the control. Not in an accusatory way, just as context in philosophical discussions (via pen and paper, back in the caveman days when we used to correspond that way). I’m totally freaked out that this may still be true. An excerpt from one:

“You have always been fairly passive as a person, allowing things to go on around you and participating only when you felt comfortable…  You can’t let those around you direct you because we do not see into your heart the way you do. The act of NOT DOING is what kills.”

Had it just been one friend who said this, I could write it off as just one person’s opinion. But it was two different people, written almost 2 years apart. It really hit me hard – this is how other people see me. At least, it used to be. I know people change but do people really change all that much?

I guess I’m pretty good at NOT DOING. I’m afraid that others see this as NOT THINKING. That couldn’t be more wrong. I’m always thinking, to the point where I have trouble shutting my brain off when I need to, and often I get myself so emotionally wound up that I get confused and muddled and then can’t have a proper conversation because my brain HAS shut off. If you think it’s maddening talking to me sometimes, let me assure you that it’s even more maddening to be me.

So I’m going to think about this more, and try to evaluate whether the above statement was ever really true; if it’s still true; if so, to what degree; and regardless of whether it is or was true or not, I know I need to gather my courage and make some things happen. If not now, when? Later? Later = never. And that is the problem.

And shit, I’m talking about starting with things as small as calling someone to come out and replace our 30 year old carpet, which we’ve needed to replace for the past 10 years. But I get locked up because I don’t know who to call, how not to get screwed on price, how we’re going to be able to afford it, should I do more research, etc. etc. So rather than just making a damn decision, I don’t do anything. That’s way easier, but the problem never goes away.

My friend was not talking about calling carpet installers, though.

(In my defense, though, I did make one big scary life changing decision more than 5 years ago (a joint decision with lots of discussion around it, to be sure), and that resulted in the creation of the most fabulous person on the face of the planet. So there’s that…)

 

3 Comments

  1. Doc

    I don’t know, I see you getting more “take charge” all the time. I hope that I encourage and support you to be as decisive as you want to be, but I think its true that we both have a bit of a “attitude of caution” about how we do things. Ultimately, we are happy and we eventually get things done.  Look at it this way… we had “extra” money in the bank to invest when the stock market was at the bottom of the crash. We have a wonderful son who has had a great start in life with lots of parental attention and education (at home and at a nice pre school). We have made major upgrades to our house (fence, siding) and we just purchased a car and put a large portion of the price down on it. You are painting again.., drawing and doing watercolors, and you just went to ITALY!  These are not the actions of a woman who just sits back and lets things happen. most of them came about BECAUSE we were careful and planed things out.

    I think you may wait for the right moments to get the maximum benefit from your choices, but thats is a desirable trait! And it doesn’t mean you are simply passive. Perhaps to people that flit around and try 100 different things in order to find the one thing that they enjoy you may seem slow paced or overly cautious. But I am not sure that should effect your view of yourself. I have been thinking about how foolish it was to compare my art to the fantastic artist friends I had in High school. Did that prevent me from doing more? I was only very good and creative… but they were amazing! So what was the point if I could not be as good as they were? I think we are both getting better at doing the things we want to do when we identify them. We just have to be sure that when we know we want something, or want to express something, that we act on it.

    I don’t think I am making much sense as I am pretty tired… but the bottom line is that I am very impressed with you and the life you are living, I am glad and lucky you let me be a part of it.

    1. Katy

      Thank you sweetie, you always know the right words that help me to feel better. I guess the point is that I’m trying to stop procrastinating as much. I know I’m cautious about a lot of things and you’re right, that is probably a good trait to have, but I think it makes me feel stuck sometimes. I need to just ACT on stuff without an endless cycle of second-guessing myself. 

  2. Valerie

    Are we the same person?! How you describe the paralysis of overthinking is exactly how I operate. I wish I could be more outward and impulsive, but that is not in my nature. And like Doc said, I think (ha ha! there it is again) we tend to undervalue the actions we do take. When it’s truly important or meaningful, you will and do take action. Whether you get carpet or not? Not a deal breaker for a profound life.

    Something that has helped me lately with the minor decisions is trying to be a satisficer versus a maximizer. http://www.happiness-project.com/happiness_project/2006/06/are_you_a_satis/
    Following the satisficer mode has freed me to get new windows or a fence based on a friend’s recommendation rather than doing the research myself.

    And I only echo Doc again here when I think that you have created some significant and successful changes in your life precisely by being careful and planning them out Take credit for what you do!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *