Two years ago, Zain was in his first full length play at his elementary school–a hyena in The Lion King. The drama program at our school is amazing and they go all out in their productions. So when they called upon the volunteers to help, I couldn’t wait to sign up. The choices ranged from costumes to t-shirt sales to concessions and everything in between to accommodate all the parents’ skills. So I signed up for set painting and make up. I had visions of bringing the Serengeti to the stage and even practiced my face painting skills on Mir to prepare. But when I went to the set painting night, I was instructed to sponge paint a black box to make it look like a rock, and other non Serengeti tasks. And for make up…I put blush on 57 children. Needless to say I was not fulfilled from these experiences.
So flash forward a year and they selected The Little Mermaid for the play. When the volunteer assignments came out again, I was determined to “make my mark” on this play. So I volunteered to do costumes. Not just participate, I went all in and signed up for co-chairing costumes. That is 58 children with multiple costume changes for a total of 130 costumes–in 3 weeks time.
Let’s pause here for a second.
As you know, I taut “essentialism” all day long. “Only take on what is most important to you.” “Don’t try to be all things, to all people,” I say!
But there I was biting off more than I could chew. Why?
“Ummm, hi Self…I would like you to meet Ego.”
If I am going to take something on, I have a tendency to go to that place where I want to knock everyone’s socks off.
Part of this comes from my profession. I am an event designer–I am paid to create productions to amaze.
But in our personal lives, that can be a very dangerous place to head.
In this case, I was really doing this for me. I left the play the year before unfulfilled. I had talent to share and they didn’t take advantage of it. I NEEDED to show them (still not sure who “them” was) what I could do. Then to justify it, I made myself think that I was doing this for the kids. And in all truthfulness, that was the best part of the experience–pulling out their costume for a fitting and having their eyes go so wide and squeal in delight. Thank goodness for that part, because it was the only thing that got me through it.
I had a co-chair, additional sewers and an entire shed of parts and pieces from other shows, so I did NOT make 130 costumes. Thank goodness! But I did make sure that every single child had their costumes, they were fitted, tagged, transported to the theater, dressed each evening, and cleaned/stored post show…on top of sewing many. It was exponentially more stressful then I could ever have imagined and time consuming? Oy vey was it ever!
The production was so great, and would have even if they had been wearing rags. I got a lot of amazing feedback that fueled said Ego throughout the process, that I enjoyed more than I should have. But I can never let myself go down that road again.
As the holidays fast approach, I think that many have the risk of falling into this trap.
Are you one that has to have incredibly intricate wrapping scenarios that look like they came from Martha herself?
Are you hosting and must have the entire interior of your home repainted before you will have anyone step foot in your house?
Have you volunteered to bring the entire Thanksgiving dinner to your in-laws because no one can do it as well as you?
Have you considered taking a flight overseas to get the perfect impossible to get gift for your child?
We’ve all been there. But here’s the thing. The presents are ripped apart in 13 seconds regardless of how fabulous they looked. No one is paying attention to the dust bunnies in your corners, and all holidays need to be focused on the people in our lives and not the “stuff” we bring to them.
While I might continue to have temporary lapses of judgement that is fueled by my ego, I do firmly believe that the holidays and milestones in our lives need to fill us up, not suck us dry.
So please learn from me…don’t be me as the crazy costume lady!
Go back and do your spoke and wheel for the holidays. What are the five things that are most important to you in celebrating your upcoming holidays–and focus on the activities that align. You will see a lot can be let go if you are willing. And as a result, you will have an incredibly more rewarding season!