It was a very hard pill to swallow when I realized I couldn’t do everything. I suppose I could blame it on the fact that I considered my mother Superwoman or possibly because I desperately need to keep busy to stave off boredom but the reality is, there is no blame to place. Some will say to blame it on society and yes, I guess I could but I’m oh, so tired of placing fault upon a societies shoulders’ that doesn’t care to change.
It’s not worth the energy.
As my father says, I like to put ten pounds in a five-pound bag (just like my mom, mind you) and I can’t say that he’s wrong. It’s never been that I have a hard time saying no to other people but instead the words ‘I can’t do this’ make me feel rather ill. You could say I have a hard time saying no to the little voice inside my head that urges me to keep going as if nothing is too much. But that’s not true, some things are too much. There is a line and for some as stubborn as myself, the only way to find that line is to pass it and reap the consequences.
I’ve found myself affronted by the line — or more so the no man’s land that lives on beyond it — multiple times in the last few months. I chalked it up to being a little tired and a tad burnt out from a rough school year with very few brain breathers but once I found myself beyond the line, time and time again, I realized something else was wrong.
I’ve seen the effects of our do-everything world, written up as success stories about the person who somehow manages to do a hundred different things and reaps the rewards (money, fame, glory, what have you) but I rarely see the consequences of those juggling acts publicized. The people I know who try to live that kind of life are a far cry from healthy because they stretch themselves so thin to just fit in one more thing, and I’m guilty of it too. Too many times have I made myself crazy, desperate to accomplish a to-do list longer than my arm. Tasks range from the every day do laundry to more important pay rent all the way to menial sweep under the couch because the dust line is bothering me. And all of the tasks are fine, but the burning need within my soul to do them all right now isn’t the greatest.
For the longest time I was the type of person to wish there were more than 24 hours in a day because I constantly felt like I was racing against time to get everything done and I was always lagging behind. I’m a workaholic, there’s no doubt about that. I like to stay busy, but I’ve had to learn that’s there’s a healthy busy and a not so healthy busy. Busy to the point that I come home and collapse into bed after a day of running around doing errands, maybe a shift at work, completing some homework and paying bills is healthy busy. Coming home and immediately bursting into tears after the same type of day is an unhealthy type of busy.
I.e, if you’re so busy that you cry every day because of pure exhaustion, that’s no bueno and I recommend a change.
For my fellow workaholics and do-everythingers, I get that taking stuff off your plate feels like a cop out. The phrase ‘if those people can do it (refer back to the consequence-lacking success stories) I should be able to too’ has rung around in my head more than I’d like to say. And that phrase is utter crap. Just because someone can do something and yes, I could do it too doesn’t mean I should. Learning a limit and living by that limit doesn’t make me less efficient or less successful, honestly, it’ll probably benefit me because I’m not straining myself past a breaking point. It’s valid and it’s healthy.
My best friend has a rule about to-do lists: she never puts more than five things on it. When she first told me this, I thought she was crazy. I mean only five things?! That was less than my absolutely essentials tasks I had to do a day. I’m very forgetful so I tend to write everything that I need to do a day down — there have been many times that I had to put take a shower on my list because I was so busy I was worried I’d forget. My list would easily be 20+ items which turned out to be easily overwhelming. So now, I make ten bullet lists. I don’t know if I’ll ever get down to five, but for right here and right now, ten is a doable number that doesn’t cause any tears. And that’s good enough for me.
I’m beginning to wonder if there’s a gentler way to find my limits since I’ve been smacked in the face by just about all of them. Will they ever just tap on my shoulder and alert me of their presence or is it always going to be an aggressive, WWE type meeting, where I feel like I’ve taken a chair to the head? I’ve crossed my fingers for the possibility that as I learn more and more of my mental, physical and emotional line, the rest won’t come as dramatically. Or at least I’ll be better prepared.