This week I made about 18 different to-do lists. My day planner, bullet journal, physical calendar, google calendar, and phone reminders are FULL. I am halfway through one of three books I need to read before next Tuesday and have critiqued and/ or marked about 12 pieces of writing from both my students and colleagues this week. I worked twenty hours, had 10+ hours of classes, taught, lesson planned, and marked, wrote for a magazine, blogged, went bouldering, spent time with friends, and cooked every meal for myself this week.
This week has NOT been a success. I elected to go home after my office hours yesterday morning to have a quick nap and head back to campus for some meetings. I completely passed out five minutes into an episode of Family Guy, and woke up from a series of nightmares, sore from sleeping on the couch, thirsty, and heart racing three hours later. I dreamed of having seizures while driving, and being paralyzed in the middle of a conversation or presentation, deflating and collapsing into myself in front of people I admired.
I had a bowl of chili, read a chapter of a book, and passed out AGAIN. More bad dreams, sore back, bad breath, anxiety, the whole thing. More dreams where my home was shrinking, where I deflated or missed class. I forced myself off of the couch and had a long, hot shower. My whole body was itchy and restless. I LITERALLY worried myself into a psychosomatic rash. I only made it to the bouldering wall once this week, and didn’t get in a yoga class or a workout at the gym. Guilt consumed me as I realized how much I still had to read; how next week’s tasks were building already.
I put on Netflix and cooked. I made pine nut and chicken tomato sauce to top my spaghetti squash, and roasted parsnips, carrots and potatoes with fig reduction and wildflower honey. I tidied the kitchen, packed my lunch, and set out my clothes for work. I read a chapter of my book and again, passed out.
Somehow, despite two naps and two decent sleeps, I woke up this morning absolutely drained. More bad dreams, sore back, anxiety, etc. I dreaded going to the job I love. I dreaded going out tonight with people whose company I enjoy. I dreaded the creative writing conference I’ve been looking forward to for a month. I dreaded everything.
I am typically a VERY excitable person. I love my job, my studies, my friends, my myriad of hobbies, my family, and my partner. I love hot showers and cooking and reading before bed. I REALLY love Netflix and having a beer with my dinner. Hell, I even love cleaning and organizing. This week I realized that no matter how much I love these things, when I try to do them all at once I don’t love any of them. (Okay, the people, I definitely still love with all of my heart)
Ever since I was a pre-teen, I’ve wanted to do it all and HAVE it all. My daydreams follow a perfect script: get a doctorate before 30, own a house before 25, marry the love of my life and publish a book every year and have a baby every second year. Travel the world, be a master chef, ALWAYS be in perfect shape, climb mountains, teach, research, work, get up at 5am every morning so I can go for a 10 mile run and then write 20 pages of a book.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to let go of those ideals. I think about them daily and my entire life is working towards achieving them or some version of them.
I honestly cannot do it all, and that means I might never have it all. Why? Because I am not the fictional version of myself I have in my head. I am a human being who needs time to recover from the chaos of life. I am a young woman with epilepsy and severe anxiety. I have ADHD and it’s REALLY easy for me to fall into unhealthy eating patterns. I am extremely busy, yes, but I need to take care of myself first.
I cut my work hours from 20 to 10 at the library I work at. I feel defeated, like I’m a failure for not finding 10 measly hours in my schedule. I feel shame whenever I can’t stay awake to finish a novel in one night, or elect to stay home to relax instead of going out with friends or picking up extra volunteer or work hours. I have conditioned myself to feel shame whenever I am not so busy that I am constantly having panic attacks.
Stressing out until I can’t eat has been a weird sign of success for me, and though I DO thrive on stress, enough is enough.
I CANNOT DO EVERYTHING AND THAT IS OKAY. It feels like shit now, but I know that with a bit more time and balance I can be semi-okay with not accomplishing everything I had planned to by 25.
I’m trying REALLY hard to not feel guilty about skipping the gym or not studying until 4am or taking less hours at work, but its hard. I think it would be harder to live through nightmares all day, every day though.
Yay, #selfcare! Right? RIGHT?