Today I’m taking a break from the feminist think pieces because I can barely think myself! I’m 20 posts in to the 30 day blogging challenge I committed to complete and I have to say it’s been a challenge to write thoughtful pieces every single day. A welcome challenge, but a challenge nonetheless. It’s made me think about all the things I’ve learned about showing up for life whether I want to or not.
When I was younger I struggled to show up for life when I didn’t feel like it. Part of this was being in my late teens and early twenties, but another part of it was my utter inability to face feelings I found uncomfortable. When the world seemed too overwhelming I made my room in to a blanket fort and watched episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for endless hours. My freshman year of college I was so homesick, depressed, and overwhelmed that I made it through all seven seasons of Buffy in less than a semester. I missed many classes curled up in my dorm room blanket fort. I didn’t feel any obligation to show up for life unless I wanted to.
As I got older, I began to understand that in the real world you have to show up no matter how you feel. When paying your bills relies on being at work, you kind of have to show up. So I became a burn out addict. I would work harder than anyone else around me for short bursts of time and then completely crash and burn. I would need to recuperate by hiding in the blanket fort with Netflix for days at a time. I would take “mental health days” from work and expect the world to understand that I just couldn’t face the outside. Today I know that I just didn’t have the coping mechanisms to deal with my feelings. I would distract myself from them for as long as I could until I was completely overwhelmed and I would get buried in feelings.
Today I know what to do when the overwhelm starts to creep in. I call my closest friends and tell them what I’m thinking and feeling, for real. I don’t sugar coat it so I don’t sound crazy, I just let it all out. This pressure valve allows the overwhelm to recede and then I can get to a place where the world seems manageable enough for me to leave my house. It also helps that as a nanny I can’t just take sick days. I fully understand that my decision to check out of life would affect multiple people, which I had never considered in my blanket fort days. So, I reach out. I tell my girls that I need some positive vibes and they oblige. I make it out the door and I go through the motions of my day.
On days like today I feel like I deserve a medal for the monumental achievement of getting out of bed and doing my job, but then I remember that adults all over the world are doing this every day. I’m just a person among people, living life to the best of my ability today. Some days my best will be better than others. On the days that it’s not, I need to be gentle with myself and others. We’re all just doing the best we can given the circumstances of the day.
So even though my perfectionist part will tell me that I should have something more brilliant to say today, my compassionate part will remind me that today I’m doing the absolute best I can. I encourage you to allow your compassionate parts to comfort you if today’s not your day. And I’d give you a medal if I could.