Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hitting the wall


You can tell when it's coming. You feel yourself getting stressed over the little things. Your phone rings and you grit your teeth in dismay. You open up the eleventy-millionth email of the day knowing there are eleventy-million more waiting. Your patience is short, your energy is low and you find yourself dreaming longingly of winning the lotto, buying a private island and spending the rest of your days on a beach with a breeze.

Yes indeed, you are mere moments from Hitting the Wall. You suffer from DoingTooMuchItis but it has to be done, right?

Sometimes, we have to take a minute to remind ourselves that world won't stop spinning if every single thing on the to-do list doesn't actually get done. The s/o isn't walking away because you want 24-hours of me time. Life as we know if will not spin out of control if one or two things fall through the cracks.

This, I've come to understand, is an uniquely American concept. The combination pride/shame that we have so much to do and not enough time to do it in. People announce like a badge of honor just how little sleep they are getting, how many hours they are working and how they are surviving on Red Bull and triple shot expresso. That's not sexy. Like dropping dead at 44 isn't sexy (RIP Heavy) or having ulcers at 26 (hanging head in shame) isn't sexy. Living your life in a blur and realizing you don't know where the last two weeks two months two years went.

You know what is sexy? Waking up rested, feeling good every day and knowing when to say enough is enough. Recently, Jayme and I had the stupidest fight over which one of us needed to slow down, cut back and stop trying to be Superwoman. We literally were hurling accusations across the table at one and other. "You need to stop trying to be Dr. Phil and take on fewer patients!" "You need to stop trying to be Dr. Ruth, Maya Angelou and Oprah rolled into one!" Owen and David sat quietly exchanging manly "I ain't in it" looks.

When we finally realized how ridiculous we were being, we started laughing and invited ourselves to have several seats. We both needed a time out and a nap. So instead of hopping up at 1:00am to fire off a blog post, I just... didn't. Instead of returning those emails immediately, I waited an extra day. Instead of washing all four loads of clothes, I piled the second stack in the spare laundry basket and kicked the closet door shut. Ans exhaled.

The world didn't fly off it's axis, no one freaked out and life continued. For three nights in a row I slept for more than six hours. I actually got up and made breakfast before turning on the computer and firing up the cell phone. Let's see how long this lasts before I start backsliding.

Three things to do when you hit the wall. Bang your head against it, knock it down, or go take a nap and tackle it another day. Which one are you? What say you BougieLand? Are we just in a DoingTooMuchItis society? What do you do when it gets to be a little too much? Thoughts, comments, insights...

50 comments:

ASmith said...

The sucky thing about grad school is how you're basically held up against the wall from the word go and people think that's ok.  The way our professors pile on the work like they don't know all the 50-11 other requirements we have to meet is insane.  So in sum, I live at this point of hitting the wall.

I do self-care whenever I can... go visit my mama, spend a day holed up without answering the phone, watch a lot of really bad television, etc...

Other than that, I'm perpetually banging my head against this wall. :(

CaliGirlED said...

I feel you Chele and I don't have as much on my plate as you! I find myself getting overwhelmed sometimes because there's so much to do and yet nothing's getting done. Two loads washed while three others were put back into the hamper to wait another day. Yep I feel you!

But honestly, I just need better time management, and then to not get discouraged and say "To hell with it all" when I get overwhelmed. I'll get it together one day!

As for you my dear, Relax, Relate, Release!

maureen said...

This reminds me  of a commencement speech Maria Shriver gave a  while back ; "There is nothing like A Superwoman, It Does Not Exist."  With that said though, I’m in   grad school  (I only took one class this semester), add 9-5, my  pregnant cousin and a side hustle that I'm trying to pull, I’m always running around like a chicken with its head cut, plus I’m one of those folks that got get it done  today.
When I watched "This is it",  in one scene Michael says, and I'm paraphrasing, if he does  not get out there Prince  will. I turned around and told my friend," I know we are chasing  The American Dream, but we can think like this". “There is a piece of pie for each us.”
Then you look at the likes of Steve Jobs and Oprah, and you go to achieve that level of  success, you almost have to be  forever plugged into  the matrix.

Jeannette said...

One thing we don't need are gray hairs and wrinkles.   People and things  can always wait.  It's good that you stepped outside of yourself to realize that.l

Jubi The Great said...

In undergrad I learned the true meaning of Doing Too Much. Becoming a PhD student only made it worse, until the stress of all I was doing began to affect my health. I pushed myself beyond the limit & it was not pretty. Since then, I've learned to be ok with not getting everything done. Sometimes you have to just accomplish what you can & leave the rest for another day.

La said...

I can always tell when I am getting TOO overwhelmed; I stop being able to understand very basic things. I can’t catch subtext. I have the diminished ability to pick up on body language and social cues. I get lost during simple conversation. The thing is tho, I live my life perpetually at the point of breakdown. I work in a high pressure, you-never-know-what's-gonna-happen-minute-by-minute job. And when I am not at that job, I am at my 2nd job. Or I am trying to clean my house or see the friends that I neglect or have a love life or blog semi-regularly or take a class or run the errands I have put off. It's ridiculous how overwhelmed I get. And then I feel bad for getting overwhelmed. There are women with kids and more demanding jobs, and hubbies and bigger stressors and they're not shutting down, so why am I? So then I push myself a bit harder. I am definitely a bang my head against the wall person. And it is incredibly stupid of me, lol.
All of that being said, you take all the time you need.

thinklikeRiley said...

Dis ish right here? Iz why Riley takin da job in Cali. Life iz short as hell.
If I gotta work like Kunta Kizzy Chicken George, let me be round my people.

blackprofessor said...

Get out of my head!!  I am addicted to Oprah's Lifeclass and last night she talked about how we have to live in the present!  The stories made me tear up, but they were a stark and salient reminder of how living in the present is the best way to go. 

When I am doing too much, I am easily irritated and don't pay attention like I should.  Then I know it is time to get a massage! I am always on the grind (tenure track) but I reward myself with massages. 

Do whatever you have to in order to feel your best.

CaliGirlED said...

Sounds like congratulations are in order! Congrats Riley!!!

Angel Blanca said...

I'm a nap and tackle another day type, but that's become my default mode only because of dealing with #MS. Before that came along and derailed me, I worked about 60 hours a week on my paying job as program faculty, I worked another 30-40 hours a week as church administrator, and I worked to be the best mother I could be to my daughter (she's great, and I'm not sure I had much to do with her blossoming into the beautifully smart, talented, sensitive young woman she is). 

I had no "off" switch, and I never failed to answer my cell phone when it rang...no matter the time, day or night.  I left my house at 3:30 am to attend to a student in the midst of a psychological crisis, with no car, convinced the student to voluntarily commit themselves, waited with the student through the commitment process, went back to our program's residence and addressed the matter with the other students who'd been privy to the crisis, went to dance rehearsal at church, performed administrative duties at church, went back to see the student, stayed up grading assignments, and went to church early the next day to prepare communion service. 

Yeah, my off switch was nonexistent until fatigue from #MS kept me grounded.  Even now I have to remind myself that it's okay to say, "No," and to follow through with it.

I say kudos to you, Chele, and to Jayme for reining in your Wonder Woman and Super Woman tendencies!!

SingLikeSassy said...

"Bang your head against it, knock it down, or go take a nap and tackle it another day."

Depending on the day and situation, I might do any or all of these.

nylse said...

this made me tired!
being a wife and mother I learned a long time ago to take the breaks I needed for myself.  I prefer reading or long intense walks (i.e. exercise) as a recharger.

GorgeousSmile said...

Yes, life can be overwhelming and sometimes you just want to walk away from it all.
follow me at IAmGoldGorgeous

CaliGirlED said...

*hollers at Gorgeous' avi*

CaliGirlED said...

Sidebar: I've been keeping in touch via email with Sleepless in DC. This is the young lady who a couple of weeks ago said, " I've been dumped one to many times. It's hard to wake up every day and not find one good reason to get out of bed."

As her birthday and the holidays approach she's finding herself a little more down. Let's keep her in our bougie hearts, prayers and thoughts.

GuessImJay said...

You and Jayme are the Queens of DoingTooDamnMuch. When every holiday folks are giving you wine and spa passes - take several hints along with those seats.

BklynBajan said...

When I find myself backsliding I ask myself is this something I NEED to do or something I think I SHOULD do (for myself or others)? If its something I need to do then I muster the energy and just get it over with so I can cross it off my list. If however its something that I added on out of obligation, guilt or that overwhelming shadow from Keeping up with the Joneses then I reprioritize it to where it belongs (either do it tomorrow or add to the nevermind pile) and go to bed (read a book, chill out - what ev's). Since I've turned 40 its been so much easier to say no and not feel the need to justify my reasons, how I spend my time or my feelings to anyone. Whoever doesn't like or respect that is added to the cut pile. Do not pass go. Do not collect $100.

Leo the Yardie Chick said...

I had to suffer two breakdowns, and three massive auto-immune flare-ups in college before my "F*ck it!" system was up and running.

I'm still learning not to do too much without feeling lazy, or guilty.

Veronica Miller said...

I'm 92% percent sure that curly-headed girl in the laptop picture is me. Only that's not me taking a nap voluntarily. That's me straight passing the eff out because my body is like, "ENOUGH."

This is the lesson I've had to learn this quarter. Some assignments aren't going to get finished on time. Some artwork is not going to be as perfect as I'd like. Some people aren't going to get to talk to me or get a timely response to that email, and you know what? It's okay. Because I'm still in a good place. I still produce good work and I'm still a good friend. 

I've also found that the people around you (if you have good people) can be more forgiving of you than you realize. Often we're hard on ourselves, and end up thinking other folks will be just as disappointed if we don't earn our "superhero" badge for the day. But they won't be. They'll understand. And if they're really awesome, they'll buy you lunch, cook you dinner, or simply just sit and laugh with you to help find a little bit of joy in it all.

GorgeousSmile said...

LOL

Sol_dier said...

 There are women with kids and more demanding jobs, and hubbies and bigger stressors and they're not shutting down, so why am I?  
Because there life is not yours and we don't know if, how or when they breakdown + quite frankly, there is a point where certain people can't afford to breakdown. Your struggles and worries are as big a deal as theirs, just manifesting differently.

Also, when we shut down it is out own personal control system saying Enough. Some people have lost that guiding system and that is not a good thing at all. cos when the shut down hits after losing that, it can be and usually is fatal.

Sol_dier said...

I used to thing chaos was my forte. If i wasn't juggling a couple of things, it wasn't enough of a challenge.
A rapidly changing work environment, increasing responsibility and a job which was my hobby seemed to suit me fine. I'm much too embarrassed to even state the number of hours I used to survive on. 

I knew I had to chillax when my doc diagnosed me with exhaustion and ordered me to take 3months off or expect to collapse in a few weeks.

Yeah, that is sooo not my portion. I quit. took time off. I'm too young to die of exhaustion. What type of nonsense is that?

Sol_dier said...

pass on our thoughts and prayers CaliGirlED.
This is but temporary, there will be brighter days. 

Bougie Girl said...

During my 20's, I worked WAY too much. I had a chip on my shoulder about being  a Black woman in Corporate America. I felt like I had to prove to my co-workers that I was hired because of my competence and not because of a corporate diversity policy. 

Singlelif said...

This is exactly why I've been MIA from posting these past few days.  Too.damn.much.going.on !  But I promise to take this long (4 day) weekend to catch up on some things.  Y'all take a hint..

GammasWorld said...

We had a relatively young coworker drop dead from a suspected heart attack yesterday.  Just gone.  And you know what?  The company opened up today.  Folk said their condolences, shed tears, and clients still complained.  That part of life went on without a hiccup.   That cube will eventually be filled with someone who has good "organizational skills".   Her husband and children can't move on that easily.   They can't replace her with an ad and an interview.  They're coming up on a holiday season where mom's ______ (fill in special dish) won't be made the same way.  Y'all better recognize.  

Jasmin said...

Today was the perfect day for this post, I definitely need tomorrow off y'all, because I'm tired of kids. Sometimes I just want to lay on the alphabet carpet and go to sleep--until I think about how many boogers and germs are probably on there. Today I started planning for retirement, and it didn't even feel real. Thank God for a week-long Thanksgiving Break!

Earthangel172 said...

And this is why I am jumping ship in the new year! I came home crying two and a half weeks ago because a senior partner at my firm had upset me so bad. And it was the UGLY cry too...LOL

I've been there nine years and have never cried over anything. Not to mention, all of the "nice" attorneys are slowly leaving. It is very telling when a 3rd year associate leaves to go and teach.

At this point, it's no longer about the money because piece of mind is so damn priceless to me. I have to be sane for my daughter. Anyway, my heart goes out to your co-worker's family. In your company's eyes, she's just another number but to them I'm sure she was everything.

Earthangel172 said...

Will do!

Patrice Williams said...

Man, I say this all the time to our younger generation. And only and older person can write this and wholeheartedly agree.  I've learned to take it easy. Thanks for this 

TrulyPC said...

This post is too real and I hope we all pay attention.  People are dying or becoming seriously ill way too young.

I was the person that was knocking down walls to get it done.  There were not enough hours in the day but I always seemed to find a way and would feel so accomplished. But it all became so much (child, school, work, church, etc.) that I became a recluse for a week from everything and everybody except for my kid.  I literally did not care anymore about hurting feelings or missing obligations and after the "time off" I felt GREAT.  I moved back to CA and never looked back.  Now... what I can reasonably get done gets done and the rest can wait for another day. 


f/k/a  BlackButterfly

CaliGirlED said...

I will Soldier! I just think if she sees that strangers can care about her well being, then maybe she will start to see a reason to care about herself. Because in the end no one can make her feel valuable, she has to do that on her own. We'll just cheer her along.

michaeldavis said...

congrats my brother! Life is short.

Singlelif said...

OMG ! This makes me sad. Really. I'm so sorry for the people that cared about her.

Sol_dier said...

You are a diamond, mate. 

CorettaJG said...

Keeping her lifted up!  And let her know we have a whole network of bougie support out here in DC.

CorettaJG said...

Wow.  This reminder is right on time for me.  

After completing coordinating a  DC wedding rehearsal on Friday, Wedding on Saturday, Stella & Dot Jewelry Trunk Show in Baton Rouge on Sunday, Meeting with the company Vice President on Tuesday, flight back to DC for a fashion show on Wednesday and assignments due at my day job in the Air Force on Thursday, I AM BEAT and my RA is kicking up.  And much of this is of my own scheduling/ making.  I am SO thankful for being a veteran and having this long weekend.  I wanted to make it to the ceremony at Arlington but it doesn't look like it's happening.  Even just clearing a path through my living room, walking my dog, returning the rental van, and getting in some sleep (thank the Lord for the restorative powers of sleep) and a good church service would be a blessing.

Sometimes you have to just say no.  Here's to a more reasonable rest of November.

CorettaJG said...

My law school classmate in Nashville is seeing the same thing at her firm.  She's actively looking for opportunities in teaching, career services at our alma mater, and even a judgeship vacancy.  

Sanity is precious and at the end of the day they seem to care more about the bottom line than they do about their people.

Brneyed1 said...

I sat down at my computer to check work email (though I'm off today) and update my To Do list  and thought I'd check BL first.  I hit the wall about a month ago.  With the holidays right around the corner, I feel like I'm revving up to crash into it again: grocery shopping for Thanksgiving, writing/mailing thank you cards, planning the office Christmas party, planning family holiday get-together, updating Christmas card list.... Is there a #DoingTooMuch Anonymous? 

"My name is Brneyed1, and I suffer from #DoingTooMuchItis."

Brneyed1 said...

I'm still learning not to do too much without feeling lazy, or guilty. <<< Amen.

Brneyed1 said...

Gamma, this post is right on time.  It was the only one that really made me stop and think about what I've been doing.  The whole time I'm reading comments I'm still rolling around in my mind all of the things I "HAVE TO"  do today. 

I "have to" take care of me.  I'mma go throw on some sweats and go have someone make me breakfast...

motown_skater said...

i am lifting her in prayer.  i really paid attention for the first time, the other day, to the lyrics of "golden time of day" by maze & like the tin man (or was it the lion) from "the wiz" its all within.....

People let me tell youThere's a time in your life when you find who you areThat's the golden time of dayIn you mind you will find you're a bright shining starOoh that's the golden time of dayWhen you feel deep inside all the love you're lookin forDon't it make you feel okLike the time of the day when the sun is going downThat's the golden time of day

CaliGirlED said...

I told her she should go to the meet n greet, but I think she was out of town. I'll try to get her to come to the next one.

CaliGirlED said...

Thank you Soldier! Just doing what I believe I'm supposed to do.

Michele said...

I figured out a few years ago that I require a lot of downtime in order to function properly.  I don't check work email at home.  When I'm off, I'M OFF.  It'll be there on Monday or whenever I get back.  Whenever I feel the old urge to do too much, I go for a run, take a hot shower and have a glass of red.

Slimuel L. Jackson said...

One of the most enjoyable posts I've read in some time. 

I'm definitely guilty of doing too much too often, then I end up getting run down and sick...which sets me back a few more days and creates more work. 

The key is to stay ahead of the game. If you plan out the following week at the end of the current, it makes life easier. Get it on a calendar or spreadsheet and if you're doing too much, it'll be obvious that you need to move some things around or drop them from the to-do list all together. Then it's on you to be disciplined enough to stick to the script. Oh, and you should put time for relaxing, family, friends, etc. on the calendar. If you can't find time for those 3 things, you're not only eroding yourself but also your relationships. 

We have the choice to be happy, but we often choose to be stressed. 

J B said...

I was too busy hitting the wall yesterday to read this...I didn't realize til last night I'd worked every day since Halloween.

Last night I finally waved the white flag and stayed home, washed my hair and relaxed.  I needed it.

Chance said...

Oh don't get me started on Golden Time of Day by Maze.....that's my jam! Especially the line that says "there's a time in your life when you find who you are...." Unfortunately, with the way some of us are running through life, this might not be realized. *taking note of what's truly important*

CaliGirlED said...

Love this!!! (Frankie Beverly is my sugar daddy!)

Foxy Brown said...

yea...ummm...so...you (meaning @onechele) told me it sounded like i needed to escape and recharge over a week ago.  yea...i didn't. so now i'm sick and completely exhausted.  #hardheaded

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