Lately, I’m catching myself feeling really overwhelmed. We all respond differently to feelings of overwhelm.
Often, I’m a keep it all on the inside kind of person. Smile through it. I often don’t know that I’m doing this. It’s my default setting. And what will happen is: I will swim around in the thoughts and feelings of overwhelm and either not fully recognize that is what is happening, or I will think that this is reality. It’s difficult to put into words, but it’s feels like being in a ball pit. You know, the kind that you might have experienced as a kid at Chuck E. Cheese. In this pit, it’s difficult to stand. I can’t move easily or see where I’m going, and I’m not sure what to do next, so perhaps I will do nothing.
I feel a smidge neurotic typing this, but I’m working to find the words to name this feeling in case others have experienced the same.
In short, what’s happening is that while, yes, I have a good amount of “things” going on lately. It’s not that it’s all too much for me. It’s that I’m thinking about too many things at one time, and when that happens, I get locked up.
We can’t do our best work or our best thinking if we try to think about everything all at one time. We also can’t do our best work if we believe everything we tell ourselves instead of rejecting the thoughts that do not serve us.
I saw a meme the other day. When this individual caught herself in self-defeating thoughts, she would mentally talk back and say, “Girl, we do not have time for this.”
Lately, I’ve been saying to myself, “I’m not going to think about that right now.” And if not thinking about that right now makes me worry that I will lose that important thing forever, I put it in my notebook. All is not lost. It’s not just something that is important right now. My husband has a WIN mindset where he asks himself, “What’s Important Next?” That feelings like winning. Not having to carry the emotions and worry and details of every thought at the exact same time.
This may be one of many reasons why so many of us (as educators) feel exhausted right now. When everything feels important, it’s exhausting. When everything is important, nothing is important. Pair that with the sense that the things may or may not feel important to us in the moment, feel important to other people. And sometimes those people are people in positions of authority, so their urgency becomes our emergency.
But I’m learning to put that stuff in my notebook too. I’m learning to manage expectations by letting people know when I can reasonably make that thing happen. It’s often an under promise and over delivery situation which feels like a bonus. I’m not going to pretend that I’m good at a flat out NO here. Authenticity is important to me. Maybe someone else will write that blogpost.
In so many words, I am of no use to those I serve, myself, and my family, if I’m carrying around my to-do list and other people’s emergencies all day. If it can’t go into a notebook because it’s urgent, I do it, but I “paint done” on it.
Sometimes, “Done is better than perfect.” – Sheryl Sandberg
A lot of times, done is better than perfect.
And then, when I feel tempted to go into a shame spiral, worrying about whether I could have done that thing differently. Worrying about whether I could have done better, you know what I’m learning to say?
“Girl, we do not have time for this.”
And I move on. And I fall asleep quite nicely at night because it was a busy day, and I did the best I could, and I’m going to learn what I can from it and do what I can again tomorrow.
We are not our work. We are not our to-do lists. We are not other people’s opinions of us.
We are human beings. Not human doings.
We are more than enough, and I don’t want to waste another minute of this beautiful life worrying about the formatting of a document I created for someone or whether I used too many vocal fillers in that video tutorial or whether I should have taken personalized Sonic orders instead of buying everyone a Diet Cherry Limeade.
Because, “Girl, we do not have time for this.”
Love the people. Try hard. Care big. Learn what you can. Sleep soundly.
That’s how we make a positive difference.
Keep going, educators. We need you.
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