My mom likes to tell the story of how, when I was a toddler, I’d get so defiant about coming inside from playing that I’d make myself physically ill.
She has another story about me learning to climb out my crib and having my days and nights mixed up. In other words, I’ve always liked to know what’s going on, all the time, be involved and not miss things — even if it meant not sleeping, stretching myself too thin or getting sick. This personality trait is one of the reasons I became a journalist. It also likely contributed to me falling seriously ill in the fall of my senior year of college.
Being this way certainly has its advantages. I’ve always been able to find out things, to absorb a lot of knowledge. I have keen insights, instincts and I’m on high-alert in many situations. Hand-in-hand with this obsession is a sharp resistance against passing up opportunities, whether it’s going to a party, an event or on a trip. The same baby who made herself ill when the dinner bell sounded grew up finding it hard to stay home from school or work when she was sick. This tendency has kept me largely on top of school work and work work and social outings and current events. It’s enabled me to juggle multiple jobs and projects and helped me succeed while self-employed. It’s also led to a lifelong cycle of getting run-down and stressed.
This year has thrown in a lot at once: a new job that heralded my return to the 9-to-5; getting engaged; applying for residency — all while still having a jam-packed social calendar and trying to do the things good humans do like exercise. With just a month left to go in 2012, I find myself feeling utterly exhausted.
So I’ve started doing something about it.
I’ve started making myself have nights in, leaving the party early, closing up my computer at work on time and budgeting in things like running and reading to slow down the Tilt-a-Whirl I’ve been riding for nine months.
I’ve stopped responding to every email — at work and at home –, taken a break from my wedding plans (most of the big stuff is done anyway) and reeled in my manic approach to deadlines (reread the journalist part above).
I’ve started saying “No” more often and asking for help.
I still feel drained. I still feel like I need a vacation and, thankfully, I will get one in a few weeks. But I also feel like I’m taking time for myself, restoring balance and re-prioritizing. And I guess that’s all you can do when life gets kind of cray.
What do you do to slow down when life starts moving too damn fast?
Image by sjwilliams82 on Flickr