Adulting isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
I think many of us have been feeling some added pressure with feeling motivated as normal during quarantine and as we adjust to what life is going to look like moving forward.
I’ll be honest, at the beginning of this whole thing I looked at it as a momentary opportunity- opportunity to get my life together and for things to slow down for a minute.
It’s not a secret that I’m a busy person. I like to have a lot on my plate to be honest because it keeps me going, keeps me motivated and doesn’t let me fall into the rut of getting “lazy” with things. I know myself- the moment that I do that, I need ten times the motivation to end back up where I was before. Some people admire me for it, and some people judge me for it. Every single therapist I’ve ever talked to has a reaction when I tell them all the things I’m doing of “wow you have a lot on your plate”. Maybe it’s a coping mechanism, sure. But I choose to be involved and do things that fulfill me and ‘fill up my cup”.
I learned pretty early on in my career how easy it was to get burnt out and a lot of the time going above and beyond is not always appreciated. You don’t get a gold medal or a hero cookie for it, but we do it because we want to. But being a good nurse and a healthy person are not mutually exclusive. In fact, if you don’t have the latter the first is quite hard (more about that in another post). So in the past few years, I’ve made a significant effort to add some more balance in my life. Not devoting every waking free minute to “extra” things at work (and as terrible as this sounds.. things that you don’t get credit for). The people who work harder not smarter are not recognized a lot of the time unfortunately.
When quarantine started, with COVID came the pause in doing many other things- I was no longer teaching, extra projects and groups at work were paused, even my masters was on hold. And literally the biggest commitment I had was going to work when I was scheduled to. That’s not to say some of those days weren’t tough for the COVID-esque reasons but man… was it kind of nice to take some of that pressure off. Many of you know that my never ending masters program was something that felt like it was “looming” over me for a long time- due to many things that were out of my control. I don’t ever regret the opportunities and choices I made which elongated that process, but it was definitely still very hard for me to see so many of my colleagues and friends doing all these “great things”, finishing up their programs and here I was still feeling pretty stagnant (Sometimes I’m not very good at taking the advice I give everybody else about everybody else’s path is not your own….)
The other thing that was paused post the start of COVID was committing myself to every person in my life I wanted to support and be there for. I no longer had to juggle going to hangout with friends after working a 15 hour day or on my one half day off. And I wasn’t going to be judged or ostracized for it… it’s really made me realize some of my priorities and the things and relationships that really matter to me (again, I think this topic is worthy of it’s own post, so more of that another day).
However, moving back somewhat into reality, expectations have started to readjust and people are expecting a lot more with less resources, additional stress, and a heck of a lot of extra steps and work. I’ve found myself lacking the motivation that I normally have to finish everything on my “to do” list and honestly, my biggest stress is the “to do list” is never-ending. There is ALWAYS something on there. And my OCD and both my anxiety don’t like that. I can’t sit down and focus if I feel that there is work to be done, or other things that need my attention. On the flip side, then I procrastinate things that cause me anxiety and so you find yourself in this loop of never being able to win.
I remember a couple years ago, writing this paper for school this happened to me. I submitted a paper my prof didn’t feel like was “up to my standard” and wanted me to rewrite it. I knew they were being hard on me because they knew me, and knew my work. Because they cared. But the whole situation gave me so much anxiety. I couldn’t sit down to write the thing for the life of me. Me, who could sit down and crank out a paper in an hour- that goal just seemed so unattainable. I put it off, and put it off until the last minute, and doing that caused me more and more and more anxiety that I built up around this normally very easy task.
The point being, we’re all human, we all have good days and we have bad days. For a long time my “identity” was the girl who managed to “juggle everything”- school, work, teaching, marking, friendships, family, a dating life. I’m here to tell you- anyone who makes you feel like you don’t have everything together on social media or in life- they are just better at creating illusions than you are. A lot of people would think I was joking when I would say “I’m glad I’m able to paint an illusion that I have my life together” and laugh. But I wasn’t kidding, cause in reality I felt like a hot mess most of the time.
As much as I got up today and had some things on my “to do list”- I’ve been coming to terms with the fact that I don’t think in adulthood you every really check everything off your list. One thing finishes and another begins. It’s all about moderation and balance- for me thats a fine line I’m still working on and I know that… cause I’m the kind of person who is all or nothing. So even though it took me 2 hours to will myself out of bed this morning, or I slept in a little later than I would like that’s okay. My body needed that time and rest, and it’s about time I give myself some kindness and patience.
We’re all human beings, and although my OCD would love for every line in my agenda to be checked off, sometimes that’s just not reality. It’s just as important to be able to understand this, accept it, and not let it take us into a downward spiral. I recently saw a dietician who put into pretty good perspective sometimes how ridiculous our “all or nothing” mentality can be. We’ve all had the day that we eat one bad thing and we make the rest of the week a write off saying “I’ll start again next week”. We would never say that if we forgot to brush our teeth or feed our dog in the morning. You fix it, you move on, the next day is a new day. But being isolated and in the middle of quarantine has made it that much harder to feel that motivation that we are looking for and that we felt five months ago at the beginning of this whole thing. And to be honest- quarantine or not, I feel this a lot sometimes even in general life.
Another post to come this week about some tips to get organized and make things a little easier when you feel like you’re just constantly treading water so that you can achieve your goals (I cant take credit for all of them, some are from some very wise people in my life, and some are to thank from some experiences and content I’ve been able to review and implement into my life- Rachel Hollis I’m looking at you!)
Until then, remember to be patient with yourself, and know that whatever you’ve done today- that is enough.