Monday, June 13, 2011

Are preconceived notions holding you back?

In my humble opinion (which isn't so humble, is it?), Sunday is a day of rest. It always has been. I remember growing up, the most strenuous thing we did on a Sunday was to decide which donut to get at the grocery store after church. Maybe we'd head out on our little boat for a leisurely afternoon on the lake, or run around in the sprinklers in my side yard, but usually, the only thing on the agenda was curling up with a good book or catching an episode of Murder, She Wrote on Sunday evening.

Of course, those were the days before kids played organized sports on Sunday. There was no way I would have had a softball game or cheerleading practice on a Sunday. It just wouldn't have happened.
But today, I understand it's a rare occasion when there's not a baseball game or a soccer match on Sunday. What a bum deal!

Truth is, before I even had kids, I used to tsk tsk tsk the concept of letting kids participate in sports on a Sunday. I always told myself that I'd never let that happen - I assumed I'd find a league where Sunday games weren't played, I'd have my kids skip out on that day's game, or I'd start some petition to overhaul the schedule. And this was all before I even had Deirdre! I had my mind made up, and that was that. Of course, I hadn't really thought through the somewhat unreasonable work arounds I'd come up with...I'd simply formed my opinion, and that was the end of it.

Until recently.

I was talking with an old friend from high school whose daughter now plays soccer, and she mentioned that she had an upcoming game on a Sunday. I mentioned my game-free Sunday stance, and she agreed that she wished it wasn't so. But she was able to shed a little light on the subject...a subject that frankly, I didn't know anything about. (With a 2 1/2 year old and an 8-month old, who am I to pass judgement, right?)

My friend mentioned two things I'd never really considered, primarily because I'd never thought the whole business through. I'd just formed an opinion and went on about sharing that opinion with anyone and everyone. So here's what she said:

One - playing games on Sunday makes the season shorter. Sure, she didn't like the Sunday game concept either, but she said that it shortened the season so much that she and her family were able to take vacations when they really wanted to, and more often than if they were beholden to a longer soccer season. (I knew the season would be shorter with the extra day of play, but I hadn't thought through the opposite effect of having to stick around while the games played out, Saturday after Saturday after Saturday.)

Two - my friend said that the games were more like play dates than anything else. She said the kids run around, have a great time, and the whole thing's over and done with in 40 minutes. Now, I'm sure this will change as the kids get older...but she put a whole new spin on the concept of the Sunday game...one that opened my eyes to the fact that maybe it's not all that bad. At least not bad enough to prevent the girls from playing a sport that competes on a Sunday.

So how does this relate to lupus? I found myself forming the same judgmental, ignorant opinion about reducing my work schedule years ago. There I was, working 10 hour days, plus weekends, convincing myself that the only way to feel important was to keep working like a madwoman. I knew (like all opinionated, know-it-all twenty-somethings do) that there was no way I could be fulfilled working part time - even if that's what my body (and my disease) needed me to do. I had decided, without knowing anything about my options for a reduced-work schedule or talking to anyone with lupus who'd embarked upon a change in their career due to their illness, that asking for accommodations at work (be it my daily schedule or the total hours I worked) wasn't for me. I wouldn't like working less, I told myself. I'd miss the responsibility, the hustle and bustle of the office, and I'd hate myself for giving less than 100%.

But oh, how wrong I was. I can't really tell you exactly what it was that made me realize, "Hey, working less to save yourself isn't such a bad deal", but I can tell you this: it was the best decision I've ever made regarding my health and wellness.

And note that I'm not talking about letting go of my career completely. That decision was made way down the line. I'm simply talking about that preconceived notion I had that reducing my work schedule (or asking for any accommodation at work) would make me feel worthless and unfulfilled. The biggest obstacle I had was breaking through my own misconceptions.

So the question is - do your uninformed opinions keep you from living well, too?

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