Give Yourself Permission to Hit the Pause Button
Sometimes what you most need to do... is stop
I was reminded recently of how ceremony, ritual, and tradition can be just what we need to take time for reflection, time to feel, time to stop the relentless adherence to the almighty to-do list in our burnout culture. Milestones – great and small and in-between – arguably deserve more of our attention.
Our daughter’s path to attend medical school began years ago; preparing for and applying to med school is akin to an extra year-and-a-half of college. So when the date of her White Coat Ceremony was announced, my husband and I immediately and excitedly entered it into our calendars.
Then, it was announced that the in-person ceremony would be ONLY for incoming students and that friends and family would watch virtually. I know, I know. Tiny violins, Jessie. COVID-19 has forced many people to endure much more difficult consequences and actual loss. We were, however, crestfallen.
I determined that I would NOT complain… only “I’M NOT COMPLAINING BUT WHY??? CAN’T THEY RENT A TENT? I’M VACCINATED… WE’RE VACCINATED… THIS IS A BIG DEAL!!!" I heard myself saying to any friend, family member, dog, or nearby plant that would listen. Did I mention that I was determined NOT to complain? We were thrilled for and proud of Natalie. This was about HER, not us. And around and around I went.
Weeks later Natalie received another email. They were opening up the ceremony to allow three fully vaccinated adult guests to attend in person. YAAASSS! My clients were gracious about rescheduling sessions, and I was overjoyed. But it took me some time to really unpack why.
On some level, I’d known that without having to take the time off to physically go to the ceremony, I was likely to just let it be a regular workday, walk-the-dogs day, prep-a-dinner day, meet-with-students day. And I was right about my foreboding, because – guess what – I had treated my daughter’s milestone ceremony like any other scheduled event and I’d booked out my entire day around the virtual ceremony while not allocating any time at all to just “pause” and actually allow myself to experience it and process the emotions of seeing my little girl turned doctor-to-be receive her coat.
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes find it difficult to give myself permission to stop “doing”; to hit “pause” and just be present; to just feel. This is distinctly not because my emotions and body and the knot that presents itself just under the right side of my occipital ridge don’t try to warn me.
My oldest daughter starting medical school was a milestone to cherish, a milestone worth giving myself permission to “hit the pause” button to fully experience and hold dear. And I was reminded in the process (again), that it's up to me to make space in my life for the things that matter – whether they're live or virtual.