Life has thrown a lot of punches lately. I won’t get into everything today (though, I imagine my year wrap-up is going to be a doozy). Yet, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting. Since the passing of my grandfather, I’ve received the reminder of just how rare, short and precious life is. It’s made me think of my own priorities and what I’m doing with my life–not to mention everything I want to change. As long-time followers on this blog know, I do my best processing through writing, so that’s what I’m going to focus on today: outlining the areas of my life that I want to change, trying to realign my brain to focus on what I can control and what I could strive to let go.
What I Am Struggling With
So, as you might know, I am currently working two jobs. My day job (also my primary job) is as an academic advisor. I’m also a freelance fiction editor. Let’s also not forget the whole part-time MFA graduate student. Out of these three things, my day job takes up most of my time, as an 8-5 usually does, because it’s what enables me to pay my bills. But, ever since the pandemic, it’s also began to shift from a job I seriously enjoyed and thrived in, to one that drains me. It’s a high demand, high stress job that has currently gone through a lot of turnover, with leadership issues coming clear to the fore. The toll is felt on everyone who is left (and there aren’t many of us). Right now, I am struggling with:
- Envisioning the positives that this job could be, but either getting shot down, ignored or knowing it can’t come to fruition
- Being overworked and underpaid
- Continually being asked to do more without the bare minimum of recognition or acknowledgement
- Micromanaging senior leadership, lack of communication, lack of trust
- Uncertainty of what the future holds
- Finding a way to escape that aligns with future goals, due to lack of funding to make those opportunities a reality
Freelance editing, I continue to love. I do struggle with many of the things that I actually struggle with in regards to this blog: namely, promotion and balancing what I want to do with what I have to do to pay my bills. Graduate school is a beast I think I’ll always have a complicated relationship with. But, both pale in comparison to the true damage my day job has done since March 2020 and the toll of how much I’m feeling it right now.
It’s prolly not a surprise that writing has completely taken the backburner, is it? And not just this year, either. Ever since the pandemic, this has taken a hit, especially in the forms of:
- Having any sense of self confidence
- Creating a routine
- Belief in myself
I miss it. I miss being able to write regularly, making it a priority; miss being excited about what I can create. I miss reading. I miss the permission to write with joy. And I struggle to find ways to incorporate everything that I miss back into my life.
My mental health has really plummeted. Between being stressed about work, overwhelmed by my debt, feeling stuck in where I’m at currently, it’s no surprise my anxiety spiking has led to sleeping issues. Depression rears its ugly head daily, leading often to neglecting to properly take care of myself and feeling completely inadequate and unhappy with where things are currently. It’s like I’m stuck in a loop, where every moment I try to combat a negative thought, rationale to support it (usually lies) are quick to surface–not to mention at least a trio of new thoughts to overwhelm me.
Mostly, I am struggling with:
- Loving myself, especially physically
- Falling asleep, staying asleep and waking up
- Guilt when I’m not productive, making changes to my life or “doing better”
This has taken the most surprising hit, for me. I never expected so many medical issues to arise. If you would have told me that 2021 would bring more doctor’s visits than I could count, my first ER trip since I was seven years old, new diagnoses, developing a disability requiring FMLA leave; well, I would have asked why you’d wish that at anyone and if there was a form I could sign that’d allow me to pass on such a horrible offer. Yet, reality doesn’t work like that. And, pairing with my mental health struggles, it makes everything all the more complicated.
Namely, I find myself:
- Struggling to form any sort of positive relationship with my body
- Unable to find the time to create a routine
- Discovering movement that I both enjoy and can partake in
- Guilt that my body’s size led to my chronic conditions
- Yearning to return to “what I once was”
What I Can Control
In reading all of those things above, it’s no wonder that 2021 has been proper shit. I’ve always been a worrier. Any one of those things above is enough to drain a person. All of them at once? Yeah, no wonder all of this is weighing me down heavily. It’s a good thing to remind myself of that, I think.
However, it’s also important to tell myself of things I can control and things I cannot. I get so fixated on all the things that I “should” be doing or “should” be changing or “should” be happening, I forget to even pause to wonder if it actually can, based on what I can control.
I can’t control:
- What my supervisors do
- How much I’m asked to do at work, nor the amount of time I have to complete it
- Being acknowledged or praised for my achievements
- What others think of me
- Having chronic medical conditions
- Being disabled
I can control:
- My own outlook
- Setting boundaries and honoring them
- Reminding myself of consequences and centering them in reality, i.e., calming my brain away from the “worst case scenario” it immediately leaps to every bloody second
- Managing my conditions and being honest of my limitations
- My priorities
- How I think of myself (and giving myself permission to love or be prideful)
Looking at that frame of mind above with each thing I’m dealing with doesn’t automatically make them disappear, of course. Nor does it solve them. But, it does put things into perspective. It helps remind me of what I can focus on letting go, where to buckle down and fight for change, and where I need to take control.
What I Want to Change
There are so many things I want to change. My life is too short to live overwhelmed and overburdened by what I can’t control, which I’m realizing I am doing way too often, currently. Some problems, I know I can’t solve overnight. I won’t suddenly see my medical debt cleared, my health restored or my brain suddenly absent of its toxic traits. But what I can control? There are things I can strive to do, strive to be and work towards. And I want to do that.
- I want to realign my life with my priorities
- Keep my mind open to new possibilities
- Practice new habits to help achieve my goals and dreams
- Not be afraid to let go of toxic thoughts, traits, people, relationships or environments
- Strive to continue to learn to be a better person, who lives with empathy, compassion and fights against the injustices and cruelties of this world
- Remember patience when change doesn’t happen overnight or when I mess up
Today, I write and read this post to remember that the emotions I’ve been feeling–the stress, the guilt, being overwhelmed and feeling stuck–have been and are valid. Yet, that doesn’t mean they also must be continuous. Or that I cannot take steps, however small, to help change things to create environments and spaces and opportunities for things to improve.
If any of what I’ve written has resonated with you, I hope you also take a moment; a moment to breathe, a moment to feel. Take a moment to focus on what you can control and a moment to redirect yourself in whatever way you can to fit your priorities, your hopes and your dreams. And when you fail, I hope you give yourself grace, compassion and the room to heal, before offering the chance to try again.
Things might be shit right now, but that doesn’t mean it always has to be (or will be). I believe that. And I hope you’re able to believe that, too.