Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Best You, That You Can Be


I think it's safe to say I have been having a rough time lately. I am adjusting to all the changes and additions to my life, and instead of it leaving me fulfilled it's left me completely overwhelmed. I am moving from one activity to the next without ever stopping for some downtime. Previously this wouldn't have been a problem. I gathered energy from being surrounded by people. I loved always being on the go. Downtime wasn't something I needed or enjoyed, but that is no longer the case. It was a foreign concept to me and something I didn't really understand. So when I started feeling overwhelmed I wasn't sure why. I kept thinking I was just adjusting to being back at work part time, or adjusting to Ashley being in school, or adjusting to the accommodations I have to make around the house etc. It just seemed like the normal adult life stuff that everyone deals with. Parents are always joking about not even going to the bathroom alone. I couldn't even really identify what the problem was, it was just normal adult stuff... right?

A couple weeks ago I did an interview with Ronnie Eaton, and during our talk I realized maybe it wasn't quite as normal as I thought. We were discussing Ronnie's latest album and a couple of the songs that really stuck out to me. Though I loved all of them, there was one song I couldn't get out of my mind. "Smile and Nod" ran through my head all day every day. It was like the song was reading the thoughts straight from my brain. It was expressing exactly what I was feeling. When talking to Ronnie I asked him what inspired him to write the song and he confessed it was a bit different from the others because although the other songs were about a variety of characters who had played rolls in his life, this song was about him. It expressed the feelings he was having. He started saying I might not understand, but that his mind is going all the time. There isn't a second that he isn't thinking about something, or analyzing something, or trying to figure out what others are thinking. At which point my thoughts were.... "Wait! What??? You mean everyone isn't like that?" He went on to explain how this had gotten him into tough spots because since his mind is always working, he assumes everyone else's does the same. So if he is in a room with someone and they are quiet, he assumes they are thinking about something, and if they won't tell him what it is, he automatically starts thinking he has done something wrong, and begins rehashing all of his comments and/or actions to figure out exactly what he did wrong. When he can't figure it out he still automatically blames himself. He assumes he must be failing in some way.  Hmmm.... check... yep, I definitely do that too, and for both of us it ends in the same results. We over think situations, we over analyze, and we walk around worrying about doing things wrong. This doesn't help us at all. Instead quite the opposite... it makes us unable to be our carefree selves. It prevents us from having the fun we want to have. Which then bothers the people we are with, to which we respond by over analyzing, and the cycle starts over. Rinse... Wash... Repeat.

So where does that leave us? Well I have now identified the problem, but I have absolutely no idea how to solve it. First it was impportant for me to realize that not everyone is like this. Not everyone is thinking things all the time, and not always am I doing something wrong. Sometimes when I ask what someone is thinking and they say nothing, it really is because they aren't thinking anything. So that solves problem 1. Now onto problem 2 after some time thinking about my life I realized what I was really craving was some alone time. Some down time to stop the thoughts that were constantly running through my head. I didn't have the time to deal with them, which meant I couldn't stop them, and that meant that nothing I was doing was getting 100% of me because these thoughts were always occupying my mind. This was a very odd realization for me. I had never craved alone time before, and I wasn't even sure what it meant. Was it fair for me to want alone time? Should I be using my free time for myself or should I be using it to get the million things I needed to accomplish done? Was it selfish of me to take some down time for myself?

So first I had to admit to myself that I couldn't keep doing this. I can't keep going and going to the point of being completely overwhelmed and exhausted. Something had to give, and not being able to keep up with all of it didn't make me a bad person. It didn't mean I failed. It was okay to not be able to do everything. So after moving on from that I had to address my idea that alone time is not selfish. In the last couple days I think I have finally realized that down time doesn't only benefit me, but it benefits everyone. It can't be selfish because everyone benefits from it. If I can take sometime for myself to have down time, or time to accomplish the things I want to accomplish then when I am with others I can devote my time more fully to them because I am not distracted thinking by a million other things. By taking this time I can quiet all or at least some of the thoughts. I can be more relaxed in a situation because I am not stressing about the hundreds of things I need to get done, instead I have already dealt with those things so they are no longer a worry. This is something I have considered multiple times. I keep saying I need to take some time for myself, but then I never actually do it. Well this time it has to be different. This time I have finally realized it isn't selfish. Not only does it benefit me, but it benefits everyone around me. It might mean I have to give up a little bit of together time with people I care about, but it means that when I am with them I can be 100% with them, and I think that's ultimately better for everyone.

Now the easy part is over. I have identified the problem, and proposed a solution, but now I actually have to put that plan into action. I can't say it will be easy. I can't assume the plan won't need reevaluated and adjusted, but I can say that I am trying. I can say that it is something I want to change. I don't want to be that person any more. I don't want the me that is always worried, always thinking, always analyzing.I need that person to step aside, so that the fun, happy, and carefree me can come out. That's the me I like. That's the me my loved ones want to see, and it's the type of life I deserve. Everyone deserves that, and no it isn't selfish. It's okay, and in the end it's the only way to make myself a better person, which benefits everyone.

This is a blog I wrote with mixed thoughts. Originally I started writing for me. It was step one in making time for myself. However, the more I wrote the more I started thinking about putting it out there. For me it doesn't matter, for me writing it was the important part... but then I thought.... if I feel this way and if Ronnie feels this way then we probably aren't the only ones. So today I am putting this out for them. I want them to know they aren't alone. I want them to know it's okay to be overwhelmed, and it's okay to take times for themselves. Being the best them they can be really is what's best. So to those of you who are reading this and thinking you might feel some of those same things I want to say, "Be strong... You can do it... and if you can't then that's perfectly okay too! Take some time for you. Time to think. Time to regroup, and time to refill your batteries. Then and only then will you be the best you, the one you deserve to be."

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