All That You Ever Wanted

Illustration by Lisa CongdonEarlier this week, I read a blog post from San Francisco illustrator and artist Lisa Congdon, whose amazing work you’ll find sprinkled throughout this post. On her blog, Lisa writes openly about what it means to have a full plate—how even when you have all you ever wanted, you can still feel so overwhelmed that you want to crawl into a hole. That post sparked something in me. It got me thinking about goals, workload and what it really means to get the things for which you’ve asked. Here’s what Lisa had to say about success and feeling overwhelmed:

“I have chosen this life that I now have, and I wouldn’t trade it. But I do feel pretty harried a lot of the time, because with abundance comes stuff like more email and higher tax payments — generally more commitments and obligations. I have to believe that it’s possible to have abundance (work, love, friends) and also feel calm. I guess that’s what I need to figure out next.”

Painting by Lisa Congdon

When I was working my 9am-2am job (yes, you read that right) editing the website for a supermodel in New York City, I spent many a late night in the office dreaming of striking out on my own. Starting a freelance career. Adopting a dog. Actually sitting down to dinner each night with my boyfriend (now hubby) and not being too tired to really talk to him. I told myself, “If I could just do that, I’d be happy.”

More than three years later, I have all that: A healthy freelance career, a wonderfully silly dog, those conversations with my husband—and, at times, I have more than even I had envisioned. Now, I get 6pm emails from editors to request a last-minute article or blog post. And I’ll stay up until 2am (sound familiar?) writing and writing, trying to remind myself in those 12-plus-hour workdays, This is what you wanted.

When I moved back to Nashville in August 2010, I felt a certain familiar stirring—a pull that told me it was time, once again, to ask for more. It felt greedy, knowing that everything I wanted didn’t fulfill me. Through many long talks with my husband (and even more trips to flea markets), I started to let myself really dream. I began to allow myself to think that, just maybe, I should want something more than I ever envisioned—even if it felt crazy and impractical.

Painting by Lisa CongdonNow Stockroom Vintage is very real. And my freelance writing career is healthier than ever. At times, I secretly wish my freelance assignments would stop. I think, “If I could just concentrate on my new love—and break up with my old work life—I’d be happy.”

But this post from Lisa Congdon has really made me remember that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed. And that on those days when I have more work than I can possibly complete, it’s alright to want to hide away. But I’ll work to be grateful. I just have to remember that I begged the universe to let me build a life where I could write and create and share my passions.

And if you had told me back in August 2010 that I could be surrounded by glorious vintage finds that I could share with people who love them as much as I do—and that it would be my job—I would’ve given anything to make that come true. Through all of my late-night assignments and all of the uncertainty of launching a new business, I need to work to always remember a few simple truths: This isn’t what I asked for. It isn’t what I thought it was going to be. It’s better. And I’m grateful for that.

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  • Naomi White

    absolutely true! dream & when you do… dream big!  I also struggle with being overwhelmed by it all but try to remember this is what i asked for, prayed for & dreamed of! great post :)

  • Paulabjork

    “Our difficulties require our most compassionate self….the only way that we can be certain that our map of reality is valid is to expose it to the criticism and challenge of other map-makers.”
    love where you take me…great stuff Bet. mom

  • Becca George

    I love this post!  This is really true in my life right now as well.  I think you have put it perfectly.

  • Elizabeth

    Thanks, ladies! It’s always good to be reminded that I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed and elated…often simultaneously.