Title inspired by Jenn Im’s video Your job is to like yourself. Yesterday I talked about how we can dig ourselves out of holes, but that’s just the first step.
We need to start taking responsibility for our own happiness. We need to start making ourselves feel good. It’s not anyone else’s responsibility. It’s our job.
I’ve been somewhat wallowing in self-pity for the past couple of days or so. Every time I started feeling better, something would happen and I would fall back down again. Then, I’d give in for a bit until I felt ready to fight my way out of it again. But today, I realized a key flaw in my mindset. I was just trying to get myself out of the hole and made no efforts to raise myself up above it. I was trying so hard to act normal, to do what I was “supposed to do”, to finish my routines, to keep chugging ahead even though I wasn’t feeling 100%. But I was trying so hard that I was suffocating myself. I wasn’t prioritizing “feeling good”. Instead, I was prioritizing working hard, being responsible, and maintaining structure, but at what cost?
I’ve come to learn that life is all about balance. A concept I struggle a lot with. For a while, I’ve been trying to find the right balance between structure and freedom, but it’s hard for me because I tend to gravitate towards one extreme or the other. Total structure or total chaos. In reality, I know my happy place is somewhere in the middle.
One of the questions I ask myself to reflect on my days is “Am I getting too comfortable?” I added this because I realize that I sometimes start slipping up without even realizing it and then boom, pure chaos. I’m realizing now that I should probably have a question for the other side as well. “Am I putting too much pressure on myself?” or “Am I being too hard on myself?” actually now that I think about it, it might make sense for me to add an entirely new section to my night routine: yes or no questions that help me check my balance because answering yes/no questions takes almost no effort and would be almost trivial to add to my existing night routine. AND I’m really bad at balance.
I’ve been working through A LOT of personal problems recently and I’ve been expecting myself to do that relentlessly without letting anything else I’m working on slip. In fact, I’ve been pressuring myself to keep pushing forward on my work like that’s the only thing that I’m working on.
I will say that I normally have a pretty ok work/life balance. For me, it usually gets out of control (work-wise) when I’m in one of two situations (1) when I’m going through a tough time personally and (2) when I can’t hang out with my friends. What I didn’t realize is that quarantine has been an insane combination of these two situations for me. On top of that, because I have SO much free time, I feel a lot of pressure not to be “lazy”. I think I’m some of what I still have an “I’m really lazy” complex and I haven’t fully worked through it yet. Even though I like pressure, there is such a thing as too much pressure and I’ve definitely reached that point. I think another part of the equation is that I’m working on things I love doing. It’s much easier to put myself first when I’m working on more mundane tasks or less passion-filled problems. The challenge is that working on things I love does make me feel good. So the question becomes how much is too much?
That’s where the daily reflections come into play. The beautiful thing about checking in with yourself daily is that it only takes a moment to notice when you’ve gone astray. One second to prevent days, weeks, months, or even years of wandering in the wrong direction. You guys know I’m a fan of wandering, but the key is to have a general direction to wander in. The tricky thing is it’s hard to tell, at a glance, what direction is the right direction. Going a tiny bit the wrong way for a long time can mean that you eventually end up in the opposite direction you wanted to go. On the flip side if you go a little bit the right way every day, soon you’ve made huge progress. Thus is the logic behind tiny steps. So basically, I’m hoping that by asking myself “Am I being too hard on myself?” I’ll make sure that my steps aren’t too uncomfortable or too comfortable.
You might be thinking okay, okay we get it Grace, you’re crazy and have to make sure you aren’t doing too much or too little. But what was that business about your friends you mentioned before?
So phase two of my quarantine problem is not seeing my friends. Historically, I have never been good at relaxing and I have always relied on hanging out with others to help me relax. And yes I still FaceTime my friend every now and then but it’s not the same or for as long as hanging out in person. The issue here is that relaxing is also my responsibility and I should be able to make time for it whether I am alone or with other people.
When I studied abroad in Paris, I was actually quite good at this because walking and traveling was my relaxation. But since I’ve been stuck at home, I’ve had a really hard time relaxing without feeling guilty afterward or trying to make up for it the next day. I know this isn’t the right attitude and on my journey, I’ve learned that trying to “make up for things” in general does not work out well for me. But the problem again is I’m not good at drawing the line between relaxing and “being lazy”. and since I deem hanging out with friends and traveling very rewarding ways of relaxing I prioritize them. But time by myself, that’s my time to grind. No one wants to hang out with someone too busy to pay attention to what’s actually happening, so I think that’s why I’ve learned this pattern of working really hard when I’m alone, so I can be fully present with my friends later on. But quarantine is calling out the flaws in my strategy. I deserve time to relax whether or not I’m alone.
So I’m done blaming how I feel on my life situation because it’s my job to let myself relax and it’s my responsibility to make myself feel good.
The good thing about becoming so self-reliant is that we’ll always be here for ourselves.