Earlier this week, my friend asked me “how are you?”. Her question wasn’t surprising or out of the ordinary but it got me thinking. In typical fashion I answered “I’m fine. Busy but it’s all good” and then the conversation moved on. I realized that one of the reasons I was “good” was because I hadn’t given any time to myself in the past week. Even running this week was an obligation not an escape. I was “good” because in the midst of midterm assignments and more reading than I could imagine I so easily reverted to a space of neglect for myself and my needs. It’s easy for me to get caught up in my work and ignore myself. A lot of the time, I do this intentionally.
I noticed my normal state of complacency and “fine” (synonymous with good) could easily be attributed to my just going through the motions, busy, chaotic, “doing too much” life and I wasn’t respecting myself in the process. For example, this whole week I was sick and I ran more miles than the week before and went to the gym twice. While I was so busy it didn’t feel overwhelming; it felt good and really comfortable. I could stumble along appearing to be reluctantly doing my obscene amounts of work while truthfully appreciating the mountain of reading for the excuse it allowed me. I made a choice to put my energy into anything but myself. I make that choice often. So the lamenting, appearing to be procrastinating, the #gradschoolprobs tweets, they were all a front because I seriously was enjoying the machine-like week I was having. Not because I liked all the work but because for a week, I didn’t have space to feel anxious, to overthink, to consider all the alternatives and interpretations.
I turned the “me” part of my brain off and then I could breathe again.
Then I remembered, I also hadn’t written in my journal, talked to friends, blogged, posted on Instagram (as much), or had coffee with friends during this time. This project is about accountability and taking those jumps into the unknown and seeing what happens. So now, I’ll get back on track!
Here’s what I’m going to try to do differently this week:
- Take breaks! This picture is taped to my desk. Too often I glance at it quickly or cover it with books while I’m doing work. So, instead of staring a the page and then going back to work I’m going to pick an activity and do it.
- Make realistic to-do lists. My to-do list never has anything for me on it. It’s pages long and always has upwards of 10 things that need to happen. Things often feel urgent for me and so, if it’s on the list it’s getting done and the idea of stopping before it gets done isn’t an idea I readily entertain. So, I’m going to break up my master to-do list into bite sized chunks. I’m going to practice prioritizing and to make it easier, I’ll frame it as a different type of micro-managing of my time.
- Run only if I want to. This summer I got into the various running challenges on Map My Run. At first it was fun and motivating but I’m not the kind of person who settles for less when I know I can do more so this became less of a fun challenge and more of a necessity (do I need to remind readers I have OCD?). So now, I’m struggling to maintain my weekly mileage and something that once made me feel victorious and strong now feels more like an obligation and just another thing I need to do each day. I want to enjoy running again and I don’t want to feel like a chore or something I can check off just to say that I did it. It’s easy for me to get caught up in how much I did and continue to push myself. I don’t settle for less than I know I’m capable of. I need to consider what I may be missing or losing by cultivating this mindset for running and for my other responsibilities.
Like I said, it’s easy for me to ignore myself. I’m often stranger to myself. When people ask me what I want to do with my life, I typically start with explaining what I’ve done since I don‘t have an answer for them. My measure of myself cannot be contingent on the compilation of what others perceive to be my successes. I need to find space to get to know who I am outside of the quantifiable, resume worthy aspects. I didn’t do that this week but, next week is another chance to do something different and in the meantime I’ll appreciate the opportunity to learn from my missteps and to practice better intentionality moving forward.