Treat Every Time Like the First Time–for Everything
This was the first week of the semester at the university I teach at. I taught pretty much the same courses I’ve taught every semester for the three years I’ve been here. Shoot, they were basically the same classes I’ve been teaching for the last 11 years I’ve been a college professor (at several different universities). Yet I was nervous as heck about walking into class the first day. Some of my colleagues said they were too. We decided that was a good thing. Being a little nervous keeps us sharp and on our toes. It may even have made us better professors this week.
The same thing happens to me when I speak to a group. Although I have been a professional public speaker for nearly 15 years, I still get nervous each and every time I step out onto the stage (or dais, riser, carpet, or whatever). And maybe that’s just the natural state of things for an introvert like me. But I think it’s a good thing. The fear at the beginning makes the feeling of accomplishment at the end all the sweeter. Especially if it’s a hit (I ad lib and go rogue on myself sometimes, so what comes out isn’t necessarily exactly what I’d planned–sometimes a good thing, sometimes not).
I was recently reading this post “16 Ways I Blew My Marriage” by Dan Pearce at SingleDadLaughing. What struck me was (a) he’s hilarious and (b) he was saying basically that we should treat our relationships as new all the time (my interpretation, not necessarily his). When we get too comfortable, we get lackadaisical. When we get lackadaisical, we stop trying. And it shows. Apathy and discontent ensues. Fade to gray.
I have over time gotten apathetic about things like friendships, restaurants, vacation destinations, and activities. But maybe that’s because I started taking people for granted, ordered the same dish every time, didn’t research new destinations, and didn’t challenge myself, respectively?
I fortunately have yet to feel apathetic about my marriage (14 years and still going strong!), but I do occasionally ask my husband if it’s absolutely necessary that we walk around the house dressed like hobos in our very worst looking (but absolutely most comfortable) clothes. [Despite this post, I do not anticipate putting on heels and slathering on make-up every day for my husband. There is a limit.]
And if I’m completely honest about why we had a kid (in our 40’s), it was at least in part because of an outburst (ok, melt-down) I had one night about the boring predictability of our lives (work until 5:00, dinner at 6:00, watch television 8:00-10:00, rinse, repeat. With an (almost) 4 year old now, nothing is predictable. And it’s pretty awesome…because every day is a brand-new experience.
I’m going to try harder to find the “new” in everything and to treat every experience like it’s the first time. Join me?