It’s been six months since my last blog post. (Well, technically six months and 7 days, but hey, who’s counting?) It’s not that I didn’t want to write. In fact, “write blog post” has been on my to-do list for the past three months. But everytime I would sit down to write, I just… couldn’t. I didn’t have it in me.
It wasn’t just writing blog posts, either. All of my creative outlets just… dried up. During my weekly writing sessions with two friends, I would open up my novel, fingers perched over the keys, but nothing was happening. My roommate at the time told me I just needed to do it. I just needed to write. But I couldn’t, nor could I find the words to explain why I couldn’t.
The things that I used to enjoy and that used to fill me suddenly required too much energy. I found that I was tired frequently, even though my sleep schedule was better than it ever had been. Something as simple as doing the dishes was a daunting and overwhelming task. And the worst part about it was the fact that I no idea why I was feeling this way.
In a recent conversation with a good friend, I shared the idea of weight. Everything we do in life has a certain weight, and each of us has our own weight limit. Each thing or circumstance has it’s own unique weight. Something like vacuuming the living room or calling the doctor are fairly light items. You can carry several of these without them weighing you down. Then there are items of medium weight, such as a project at work or an argument with a family member. We can only carry a few of these before we begin to feel weighed down. And, lastly, there are the heavy items, in which we can only carry one or two before we reach our capacity. These heavy items can be many things, such as grieving the death of a loved one, managing a mental illness or, and I’m just spitballing here, living through a global pandemic.
Postive things, neutral things, and negative things all have weight, and their weight varies depending on the person. What is light for me to carry might be something very heavy for you, based on your unique experiences.
Sometimes we can pick up and put down things at will, but other things we have no choice in carrying, like our emotions or, hypothetically speaking, a global pandemic. And often when we’re carrying these things we have no choice about, we are unble to pick up the things we do want to carry, which can be such a disheartening and frustrating experience.
There is only so much we can carry before we are at our limit. So, let’s do the math, shall we?
Global pandemic + spending Easter and the Fourth of July alone + *cries in extrovert* + being in three weddings (maid of honor twice, MC once) + getting laid off + moving + finding a new job (or, trying to, that is) + probably other things I am forgetting (because ADHD brain) = a heckin’ lot
I do not know what my weight limit is, but I do know that this surpassed it. And the sad thing about meeting your weight limit is that you have no more room for other items, including good items that you enjoy, like your hobbies. This means that writing, crafting, hiking and many others were suddenly impossible for me to do, no matter how badly I wanted to do them. I was already carrying too much.
For the longest time, I was frustrated with myself. Why wasn’t I accomplishing what I used to be able to? I used to write on my blog every other week, not a problem. I was so close to finishing my novel. Why was this suddenly so hard? I felt a lot of anger and shame associated with my unproductivity. My roommate could do it. Why couldn’t I? There must be something wrong with me. That was the only solution.
Don’t allow yourself to slip into this negative thought pattern. A very wise friend of mine told me at one point:
“Tissues instead of the baseball bat.”
It can be so easy to beat ourselves up about things we think we should have handled better, or scold ourselves for not being where we think we should be. But instead, why not allow ourselves to grieve? Pull out the tissue box. Cry it out. Work it out. Think it through. Things are different, yes. Things are more challenging. Why might that be the case?
Give yourself grace. We’re living through unprecedented times. No one quite knows what this is supposed to look like. It’s alright if you’re not able to do what you used to be able to. No one expects you to. Allow yourself room to grow.
While I was in college, I worked three jobs on top of schoolwork. I was averaging about 45-50 hours a week at age 19. And I loved it. I was thriving. Now I’m 23, and suddenly working just 20 hours a week is challenging. And that’s okay! I’m not the same person I was then, and I have different needs. I am carrying much more than I was then, which means my priorities have shifted a little. As times change, they should, too.
No one quite knows the weight you’re carrying, just as we cannot see the weight others carry. Let us meet each other with kindness and grace as we navigate this confusing world. After all: we may be isolated, but we are not alone.
Have you noticed that you’ve recently been unable to accomplish what you used to be able to?
How can you be gracious with yourself during these challenging days?