Coming off Spring Break is always hard. Readjusting my schedule and head space takes a day or two. Neglected assignments required my attention. I don't have class on Mondays, so I spent the day making the necessary adjustments. Then Tuesday came, and with it Snow Day number, um, 4? 5? for the semester.
Frustrated and concerned about getting behind, my beloved professor moved the due date for a massive assignment up by two days, posted a narrated PowerPoint, and assigned additional homework. I also had the goal of turning in my independent research paper this week. Let's just say sleep was scarce, but everything got turned in.
Including my nemesis, Independent Research Paper. I've mentioned this paper a few times, and perhaps you're a bit tired of hearing about it, but this paper was more than a just a paper I didn't really want to write (but looks so good on my resume/grad school apps). It became the culmination of all my fears, worries, and bad habits. In avoiding that paper, I didn't release myself of an impending burden. Instead my anxiety grew with each passing day, week and month that it went unwritten. To the point that I couldn't write it. I was paralyzed. I could mentally write entire paragraphs, but the second I sat down to put it to paper...nothing. And it didin't help that there was no due date attached. This gal needs a deadline.
I finally realized what I was doing to myself and got to the root of the problem. I'm a good writer. A naturally good writer. It's a strength among shortcomings. That's why my professor asked me to tackle this project. But her reputation, and mine, were on the line. So something I once enjoyed doing became an outlet for self doubt. As a result, this once confident writer became a big ball of stress and nerves.
Somewhere along the line, What if I screw it up and let her down? snowballed into What if I don't get into my first choice grad school this fall? We have to move. How are we going to know where to go if I haven't found a school? What if I don't get in at all and I'm doomed never to become a PA? My goal to meal plan is totally failing. I can't write this paper. What will happen if I don't? I'm tired of Mario always being gone. I know it's his job and it pays our bills, but money isn't everything and my husband shouldn't be an occasional guest in my life. I'm carb loading. A diet shouldn't consist of sushi and bagels. Stop drinking coffee! Even decaf is making you miserable. I know you love it, but stop doing this to yourself. What if I don't get this assignment in by the due date? I've never turned in a late assignment, not once in 4 years! You haven't been to the gym all semester. Have they cut the lock off your locker by now? The cat has mats and you can't keep up with them. It's time to get him shaved again. What if he gets cold? Do they make kitty sweaters? You are going to fail, fail, fail! You're letting everyone down!
By carrying this tremendous burden, I emotionally and mentally handicapped myself. By allowing normal, everyday insecurities to spiral into a doubt-shame-fear vortex. I think I have finally found an exit, and it's about time.
I'm guessing that I am not alone in this. A lot of us let expectations (usually of our own making) pile up. Then the initial stressor becomes buried under a sea of self scrutiny and a to-do list that never ends. Those who can let these things roll of their backs have my utmost admiration. I once had a therapist tell me "You are not what I would call a 'laid back' person." At first I thought "How can you say that?! I'm fun!". But she was absolutely right. I am laid back about a lot of things. Kiddo's public display of bedhead? Charming. A messy house? On my deathbed, I'm not going to be wishing I'd cleaned more. But when it comes to change, instability, unknowns and putting myself out there, I struggle. As my husband frequently reminds me, I am harder on myself than anyone he's ever met. The expectations others place on me are nothing compared to the perfection I demand from myself. I used to think I hid this internal Type A tendency well, but those who know and care about me can often tell. Then I'm hard on myself for letting the cracks show.
Holy purge, Batman! This is supposed to be my High Five for Friday post! And so it shall be. Because I have so much to be thankful for. Amidst the anxiety are moments of greatness. Many, in fact.
1// We are so, so fortunate to have a big beautiful hot tub. This is a luxury we may not always have, and I should never take it for granted. Being stressed and hunched over a computer for hours left me with a painful knot in my left shoulder. Every night this week, I've soaked for a few minutes before bed. The ache lessens and I sleep like a baby. Plus, I get to stare at the stars during that peaceful period between the time when Kiddo goes to bed and I settle in for myself. I have been trying to make meditation a regular practice, and my nightly soaks have helped quiet my overstimulated mind.
2// Hey, I kind of remember that guy! And come this afternoon, he's all ours for three whole weeks. Working from his home office, helping out with Jared...I have forgotten what being a normal family feels like.
3// Brownie dates with Kiddo are just about the best thing I can think of. They built a brand new YMCA on the edge of town and the sweetest little bakery is just a block away. If we can spare even a few minutes before lessons, we stop and catch up on our day. We had a good chuckle after noticing that the last time we were there he was wearing the same shirt. I could have just recycled the old pics. Funny kid.
4// Some new music was in order. Even my satellite radio is boring me lately, as it seems like the same ten songs are on constant replay. I get it already, you're going to pop some tags. This album is smooth and mellow and works great as background music while I write or complete homework assignments. I saw it at Starbucks yesterday morning and decided to grab it on a whim. I don't regret it. And although there are only 10 songs, the album is over an hour long because each song lasts about 7-8 minutes. I was never a big boy band swooner, but I have to admit that JT has swagger. Is there anything that boy can't do?
5// Dining solo. Spending those days on Cape Cod freed me when it comes to eating out by myself. It's not that I was ever too afraid/embarrassed/self-conscious to do it. I just didn't. I had an extra hour before picking Kiddo up yesterday and had a hankering for sushi (shocking, I know). So I went to a restaurant and had some. I didn't put it off until Mario got home (although I'm open to going again next week...) or opt for Panera yet again (why do I keep going there?). I brought my laptop and caught up on emails. It was actually really nice.
Happy Monday, Friend!