A few months ago, as I was closing up at the coffee shop I work at, I suddenly remembered that I had planned to attend a friend’s community dance event that night. I felt my body go from a state of relaxation to a state of tension.
For an hour, I went back-and-forth on my decision to go. I already said I would go, so I should, I told myself. Not only did I not want to let my friend down, but dancing is what I fall back on whenever I need to lift my spirits. I also remembered fondly that the last time I attended, the dances and conversations I had brought me so much joy.
But when I reflected deeper and listened to my body, I noticed something: driving to and being at the event felt overwhelming. My body was tired, my muscles felt limp from several days of poor sleep and being on my feet all day, and I felt ready for some quiet.
I realized that my desire to go was pulling from a place of necessity, not from a place of joy. Because of that, I couldn’t let myself go to the event, even though I was genuinely excited to go.
As a conditioned perfectionist, a highly sensitive woman of color, and a Virgo (my fellow Virgos know what I’m talking about), I am prone to ignoring what I feel to push through it and be seen as “good,” regardless of how I may actually feel physically or emotionally. This felt like a small victory to interrupt that cycle.
As leaders, a lot becomes possible when we move from a place of joy. Accepting and being honest with our whole selves can lead to more impact and sustained energy in every area of our lives. By slowing down and being intentional with our actions instead of doing things solely because we “should”, we can deepen the impact we have in our own lives, the communities we serve, and the people we’re in relationship with.
I felt residual regret when I made my decision, as I often do when I feel like I may be letting others down. But I know that, with time, the marrying of my mind and heart can help me manage my energy to be able to make this event from a place of joy.
It’s not always possible to skip that important Zoom meeting or to stay home instead of going to a community event, but even then, it’s still possible to lead from a place of joy in those moments. So the next time you feel depleted in the midst of a busy day, consider taking a moment to ask yourself: how can I find joy in this moment?