Lately I’ve noticed that the internet drives us to extremes.
It isn’t simply enough to like running if you aren’t getting out there and training for an ironman.
It isn’t enough to purge your house every now and then – it’s better to sell everything and live in a converted van full-time.
I have nothing against these things! I dream of running long distances over mountains and deserts and living in a camper. But not everything in life is meant to be extreme.
Most extremes aren’t as healthy or sustainable as long-term moderation. It isn’t sexy or exciting, but it’s the truth.
Too Much of Anything is a Bad Idea
Often times the right amount of something isn’t extreme. Sometimes balance and moderation is the right amount.
The internet plays a role in this because the algorithms of many websites are designed to lead you to more and more extreme versions of things.
If you like a Youtube video on healthy eating, chances are some of the related videos will be about raw veganism and 21-day juice fasts.
Just because I enjoy something doesn’t mean I’m supposed to throw myself into it head-first. I’m allowed to have part-time hobbies.
I don’t have to be the best at something in order to do it.
I’m definitely not the best weight lifter out there, but I enjoy it in moderation and I don’t beat myself up if I can’t deadlift as much as an athlete at the Crossfit Games.
Just because I like camping doesn’t mean I need to go out and buy all the best, ultra-light gear and make plans to backpack 1,000 miles. (At least right now, anyway….)
For now I’m content with one and two-night getaways with friends.
It’s amazing how overdoing a hobby or passion can quickly lead to burn-out.
You may waste time and money.
You may even come to resent the one thing you originally fell in love with.
And in the case of exercise, I’m learning that too much of a good thing is not even healthy. I have to be careful, especially in the summer, not to overtrain my body and get dehydrated.
There Will Be Someone Better Than You
Whatever the thing is, it’s unlikely that you will be the best. And that’s okay. You can accept this fact and move on.
This is no way diminishes your ability. You aren’t competing with anyone but yourself.
I’m a long shot from a famous or “successful” blogger, but that doesn’t keep me from writing and expressing myself.
The most you should do is strive to be better than you used to be.
And even then, be gentle with yourself.
I’m not as fast as I used to be, but I’m in a season of rest and recovery right now. So I have to take that into consideration and go easy – even when I’m just comparing myself to myself.
It’s easy to feel like you’re doing a terrible job because the cream rises to the top on the internet.
Google searches and Pinterest pins will lead you to the best of the best in any given field.
Learn from these rockstars, but don’t shut down in fear or jealousy.
Learn to be content with your own abilities, and confidently mediocre.
Don’t Look to Hobbies for Purpose
It’s extremely unlikely that any one hobby or lifestyle will fulfill you and bring you purpose.
Minimalism, for instance, won’t give meaning to your life. It’s a useful tool, but it isn’t the end goal.
Decluttering makes me feel good. Running gives me endorphins. Weightlifting makes me feel powerful.
But it all ends there.
In my experience, the only “hobby” that brings actual fulfillment is trying to better the world and serve others.
Or as theologian Frederick Buechner puts it: “vocation is where our greatest passion meets the world’s greatest need.”
I think this is universal. I think we all need to be part of something bigger than ourselves. We all want to help make the world a better place.
I don’t just want to blog for the sake of blogging.
I don’t just want to travel for the sake of traveling.
Chasing purpose will change the world.
Sometimes life is found in the simple. In the mundane. In the day-to-day.
In the morning coffee chats and the late-night friend conversations.
In the mountaintop transcendent experiences and in the work of art scribbles hanging on the fridge.
Are We Running From Something?
When throwing ourselves fully into our hobbies it’s important to remain aware of whether or not we are running from something.
It’s important to face those things head-on rather than try to outrun them. I know this all too well.
I looked to running and staying busy to try to escape my depression a few years ago. But no amount of running can cure what only acceptance and tough conversations can.
Cheap thrills and runners highs only go so far…
I can’t wait to get back to running, but I’m no longer going to be running running from anything.
I won’t be running to avoid the pain of being still.
It’s so easy to get caught up in what we do. To define ourselves by our accomplishments.
When we meet someone, we ask them what do they do? Like what they do tells us who they are.
How can we learn to just be, and a world full of doing? Performing? Identifying?
How can we learn to incorporate things we love into our lives, without them becoming our source of identity?
Slow and Steady Wins
As unexciting as it sounds, when I think about the big changes that I’ve made in my life, they all happened slowly and gradually.
It took me years to quit sugar, and another few to mostly stop eating meat.
Lifestyle changes don’t happen overnight. Rash, quick changes often aren’t sustainable over the long haul.
Sorry if that’s a bummer.
On the other hand, if you don’t fret about the length of the journey, it’s okay that changes happen slowly.
Life is a journey and we’ll never fully arrive. Slow down and enjoy the process.
Be confident in your role in the middle the pack. Go the pace that’s right for you and be fully alive.
How does the internet make us struggle with comparisons?
What are some ways we can embrace the art of moderation and live at our own pace?
How can we encourage one another on the journey – to find contentment, to take it slow and not overdo it?