Don’t sweat the small stuff

My father passed away a few weeks ago. We were close and I miss him terribly. This is the first time I’ve lost someone this close to me and although I’ve lost beloved grandparents and other people from my extended family, it’s just different when it’s your parent. The grief is acute and physical and it just feels hard to comprehend.

But it really puts things into perspective.

I think about all the people I’ve met during my journey from the business world to academia. The people I’ve talked to about opting out, whether casual discussions at parties or conferences or interviews I’ve conducted for my research. A common denominator for all opting out stories is that something has happened in these people’s lives – a crisis of some sort – that has helped or pushed them to take the step and make a real change instead of just talking or dreaming about it.

And it’s true, a crisis or traumatic event may propel a person to make a change as well as trigger some serious soul searching. If everything goes well (and this is important because let’s not romanticize crisis here; we have to remember that a crisis is no walk in the park and some people don’t recover) it may trigger personal growth and create a feeling of authenticity. As a woman I’ve interviewed said, “ You just don’t waste time on anything that doesn’t matter anymore.”

I’m finding that I can really relate to that right now. I just can’t be bothered sweating the small stuff. Intrigue at work? Not interested. Disagreements and misunderstandings? Can’t be bothered. Students who complain? I refuse to let it get to me. Really though, I’m dealing with more important stuff in my life right now.

And although I’m sad, I’m also finding that I quite like not getting fazed by what’s not important. I feel like I see things more clearly. I just hope it lasts and that I continue being able to put things into perspective. Although I suspect as time passes I will gradually slip back into getting stressed over work and deadlines like I usually do. Because that’s life, nothing is constant and opting out isn’t forever, it’s cyclical.

I wish I could put perspective in a jar and then in the future, when I need to, breathe some in and not sweat the small stuff again.

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