Ugh…Not Another Boundaries Blog

by Colin McGrew, Senior Program Partner
I find it hard to start this conversation without sounding entirely cliché, but I find the springtime to always be a time of growth for me. With longer days and a sprouting environment around me, it is hard to not be inspired. However, with this development of renewed energy and investment in my wellbeing, there comes a dark realization. Which is – why do I not give myself the same attention and investment year-round? Why do I rely on half of the year to get all the joy I can? The obvious answers that I point to are “well the school year is a busy time for us!” or “with shorter days, you just don’t have the time necessary to dedicate to yourself.” When I present these arguments to the folks in my circle, they often fall flat. Mostly because they are excuses, somewhat valid I would argue, but nonetheless they are excuses.

A word that I cannot seem to escape these days is boundaries and I know that this word means all sorts of things to different people. Some folks love it, some folks find this sort of thing trivial, and to be quite honest, I cycle between the two. I am always wary of holding up one thing and saying, “this is the answer!” because as we say here at IC, we have to be able to acknowledge the complexity and nuance of all experiences and contexts. I have been having a lot of these conversations though, about boundaries, personal sustainability, pace, flow, etc. and have found it challenging in all the right ways.

In a recent session of LeadDIVERSITY Tena Hahn Rodriguez and Portia Burch facilitated a Replenish session where much of the conversation centered on the idea of boundaries. Portia mentioned that “boundaries are not walls, they are doors.” Meaning they are ways for us to control the traffic of things that demand our time and attention. I have known for some time that I am not much of a boundary keeper, but here it was again, another reminder that my haphazard patch work of boundaries is far more reactive than it needs to be. The worst thing is, I am often the person that violates my boundaries the most. I set the precedent for myself and others that it is okay to bend this boundary once, well then that once becomes another, and another, and then all of a sudden you have a revolving door spinning away with no way of slowing it down. Not to be too dramatic, but you catch my drift.

Now, this blog is not meant to solve anything necessarily, nor is it revolutionary by any means, but I hope it serves as a reminder that in our ways of doing things in this world, we need to stay vigilant and consistent. I need to stay vigilant and consistent. I have much to unlearn about my approach towards work, “the grind,” and self-worth which I often tie to the concept of productivity, but that is for another time altogether. As I wrap this ramble up, I want to extend an invitation to everyone reading this to be kind to yourself and the others around you. Hold yourself and those same people accountable. In engaging this practice of grace and accountability, I personally hope to move towards a better understanding of how I want to show up in different areas of my life and draw distinctions between them. Ugh…thanks again Portia and Tena!
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