SimplifyOn December 29, 2019 by Barbara
A few weeks ago I had a bit of a breakdown.
I guess I sort of knew it was coming: I felt like I needed time for myself to think, recharge, do my own thing, do nothing. Like there was a lot on my plate that I wasn’t able to handle, and that I was dropping balls left and right.
And while I was completely overwhelmed, it was really hard to pinpoint exactly what was bothering me. Now I know that it wasn’t one thing specifically – well, actually it was. It was me.
The way society works nowadays makes you feel unworthy if you’re not on the go all the time. Working too much is seen as a good thing, not having down time is great because it means you’re being active and productive.
But that’s not who I am. I envy people who have so much energy that they’re bursting at the seams. I am amazed at people who come home from work to make homemade meals for their homeschooled kids, get their workout in, make travel plans for the weekend, decorate the home for the season, and host parties for their communities (hey Mohneys, I’m looking at you). I wish I had a fraction of your energy (what the hell are you on and can I have some).
But alas. I need my 8 hours of sleep. I need time by myself to recharge after a day of work. I need silence. I need time by myself. And I will absolutely break down if my brain doesn’t get the rest it needs for too long.
So let me tell you about this breakdown. I’ll make it short.
I got to the point where I desperately needed (and expected to get) some extra time of peace and quiet in bed on a weekend. It didn’t happen – a yowling cat was all it took.
Don’t worry, I didn’t take it out on him. But as I wiggled his toy around, I sobbed like a f*cking child.
Now, I get it, you’ll say “that’s ridiculous. A freaking cat triggered a breakdown?” to which I’d say “yes. It was a small drop in a big cup, but that was all it took”.
Why was I so fragile? How did I get to that point?
Later on, when I looked at my schedule to figure out how to clear it out a bit, I noticed that it wasn’t nearly as booked as I felt it was.
The main problem I had were all the projects I wanted to dedicate myself to, but just couldn’t get to. Sometimes because I didn’t have the energy, sometimes because I didn’t have time, sometimes because my priorities changed, sometimes because I simply didn’t feel like it. But nevertheless, all these unfinished or unstarted projects were looming over my head and putting pressure on me.
Were these work projects? Team projects? Were they unavoidable? Did they absolutely need to be worked on? And, most importantly, did they need to happen now?
They basically amounted to things I’d like to do: Create a new personal website for myself (you’re welcome, this is it). Start a Twitch channel. Work on my citizenship application. Study more. Do music again. Work out more. Decorate my house.
All of these projects were self inflicted. None of them had a deadline, or even any repercussions if I didn’t follow through – and yet they were sucking the life out of me.
So I decided to let them go. Not permanently, of course, but now I take it one day at a time. One project at a time. Or none. Or maybe I’ll work a bit on a project today, and on a different one next week. And do nothing in between.
And that’s fine.
So what happens if I don’t have the time, energy, resources to work on something?
Nothing. It’s perfectly fine if I don’t get to it. I’ve greatly reduced the “musts” in my life and decided to call them “bonuses”. Now, when I choose to work on one of these personal projects, I do it with energy and intention. And happiness.
I’ve simplified my life. Or, at least, my brain. For a little while. I know myself and the chances of me doing this again (over and over, to be honest) are big, fat and plentiful.
Sometimes they won’t be projects. They might be people. Or a bad job. Or just some situation that I need to get myself out of.
But on some level, I know that if I start to get overly stressed, I can always take a step back, look at the big picture, and remove everything that doesn’t need to be there.