The problem with being Little Miss Sunshine is when you're going through an emotional roller coaster or feel pressure from your obligations as a human being, you generate a lot of attention for having a dark and stormy day/week/month. Everyone inquires "What is wrong?" "Why do you seem so down?" "Are you ok?"
The concern is nice, but tends to be overwhelming. Especially when generated by your superiors in a professional environment. What is supposed to be genuine concern comes off as some sort of self-fear inadequacy. Today my boss did a friendly check-in with me, noticing my demanor was a little down and wanted to make sure everything is all right. I should feel happy that I have a boss that actually cares about how I'm feeling. Instead I immediatly felt somewhat defensive replying, "I am very overwhelmed right now but I am working through it. At least my work and productivity is not suffering and assignments and tasks are being completed on time." My boss probably wasn't too worried about my productivity but rather, as a social worker, my general well being. Yet here I am assuring that despite the fact I could be headed towards a nervous breakdown, I'm getting my work done. As if that is all that matters.
I don't think I'm headed towards a nervous breakdown but I can't help but feel like I am an ant about to get squashed these days. I'm in my third and final year of graduate school. I have been balancing the busy schedule of exercise, work, late nights, and late classes and homework for two years now. It has been a learning process but I thought I had things sort of figured out. Sure I get stressed over deadlines and I am a perfectionist when it comes to my assignments, but I never felt like I was sliding downhill so fast, so early.
It is the third week of school. I spent my Saturday reading for my classes in the sunshine. I made, what I thought was the self-care choice of going out for a drink Saturday night (by myself even) and had a pretty decent night for a solo adventure. I however paid the price, rolling up to my apartment at 2am, having a restless sleep, and feeling dragged down and groggy on Sunday. I had a lot to accomplish on Sunday but only managed to achieve a fraction of my goals. I laid down for a hour just to power nap my way into productivity and succumbed to a 3 hour nap. Thus, jacking up my sleep schedule.
Here I am on Monday, tired as all get out. Nervous about an assignment due tomorrow at 5pm and a book that has to be read in its entirety by 5:30pm tomorrow. Frustrated that I didn't kickbox on Saturday morning. Knowing that I need to kickbox tonight to make up for my lack of exercise this weekend but feeling so run down and so distracted and so exhausted I can't even fathom getting home in one piece. My appetite is decreasing (a major sign of distress for I am a stress eater not a stress starver). I'm sort of plagued by guilt in that I pay $60 to kickbox and I'm missing class because I'm tired but I'm tired because I'm not exercising but I've got assignments due and I need sleep to focus and OMG I have to do my work at work.
My annual employee evaluation stated I needed to work on my problem solving skills. So I'm fearful when I share my feelings openly (like we're supposed to in our community) that is construed as weakness. I'm worried my superiors think "Wow, its only week three of graduate school and Mary Anna is already falling apart. She really needs to think outside the box or get some help."
This construction could be all in my head but it just adds to my already pressing anxiety. But why, why so early on do I have this feeling I want to give up? Why do I think I am incapable of managing exercise, eating right, my finances, my schoolwork, my social life and my job? I've done just fine all these years, why assume I'm inadequate now?
I know that the greatest pressure I feel is the pressure I put upon myself. But I can't bear the thought that one element in my life has to suffer. I can do it all. I have.
But today? I just want to give up. I want to quit everything and hide out in a cabin in the woods and eat tuna fish out of a can and sleep in solitude for days. Not a good plan. Not feasible. But that is where I'm at right now.
Until next time....