Thursday, April 17, 2008
Duty, Taxes and Being a Responsible Adult
I finished my tax return, and mailed it in to the IRS, a couple of days ago.
Maybe this doesn't sound like a particularly momentous event, as millions of Americans get their personal income tax returns in by April 15th, every year. However, for me, the occasion marked a major change in my life. Not only did I finish the return (instead of mailing in an extension), I also completed an accurate accounting for my business, I paid the taxes owed, and it is all done.
The reason this "means something" is that it marks the first time in at least 15 years that I haven't dilly-dallied around till the last moment, and eventually gotten around to take care of the tax return after a couple of extensions and procrastinating the paperwork till the last possible moment. It's important that I note, in all this, that "being late with my taxes" was never about not being able to afford them... it was about simply being too poorly organized to figure them out quickly, and and general "avoidance" because I knew the whole process-- especially the business part of it-- would feel extremely overwhelming. And because I have never had very much money, I have never been able to afford to just "farm out the process" to someone else, like an accountant.
This isn't about "taxes," but about being a "Responsible Adult."
From my meetings with many HSPs, I believe it's fairly common among HSPs to be seen as "the responsible one" and the "dutiful one" in family and friend circles. One of my epiphanies this winter and spring revolved around the fact that I have often been "the responsible one," and yet I never really was. My actual "skill" wasn't in being "reponsible," but in being superb at "disaster management." Something awful would come up, and I would be extremely good at rising to the occasion and dealing with it. But it was never a reflection that I was actually "well prepared," merely a case of being highly adept at "putting out fires." Of course, being an HSP, once I'd put out aforesaid fires I'd end up crashing, exhausted and incapable of dealing with the world.
I came to realize, not long ago, that "Being A Responsible Adult" isn't about being skilled at dealing with the "curve balls" life throws our ways-- it's about being aware of, and having a plan in place, when life does (and it WILL) throw us a curve ball.
And as an HSP, I have further come to realize that "being prepared" isn't just about being able to foresee what might be coming-- it's also about reducing the "scale" of my life to a point where I'm not already stretched to the limit, dealing with "what's already there." That part is important. And central to accepting that part is the willingness to "fly in the face of society" and say that we do NOT (as HSPs, or minimalists, or the easily overwhelmed) accept other people's definitions of what we "should" want, and what "success" is, and so forth.
Maybe my life-- as I am "reconstructing it" looks like "detachment" and "boredom" to many... but I am the one living my life.
And that's worth remembering, as we plan our lives.
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