Enough

Note – This is an edited version of the even whinier version I posted briefly on Friday afternoon. I left most of it intact (that’s why it says I wrote it Friday) but modified how detailed I was in my description of my day.

***OK, and further edited to add (10/4) that I recognize my extreme privilege, and this is such a first-world problem. There are people suffering and dying without water, or food, or shelter. There are people dealing with the aftermath of multiple climate disasters. And I’m complaining about a situation I put myself in. I absolutely know that I am lucky. I know I am privileged. I also know that I’m still stressed, and frustrated, and I let that out here. So, if you’d rather not read about first-world problems given all that’s going on in the world today, I completely understand.***

Enough. I’m done. Not with this blog, with how I have been living my life these past four weeks. It’s ridiculous. I’ve pushed myself into the margins of my life. I feel constantly rushed, time-deprived, and unable to keep up with the parts of life that feed my soul, rather than my job and other responsibilities.

I’ll be honest – it has sucked. I have wanted to come back here to write for the last 2.5 weeks. I’m just now ‘making the time’. The reason? It’s a fifth Friday – no standing meetings (Our school-wide “meeting day” is, believe it or not, Friday. And yes, this stinks more than you can imagine.). So I have had a (relatively) productive day and feel like I “can” take the time to write this post.

That’s ridiculous.

I know I don’t tend to share much about my days here, because honestly? they’re boring. But maybe sharing a bit will help you see why I’ve finally reached my limit. Here’s a typical work weekday (M-F; also note that all “holidays” are typically also work days, so, really, this is just a “typical weekday”):

****A quick note before I get to the pathetic part…PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not think I am writing this out in an effort to get sympathy, or to make people feel bad. I put this on myself. This is how I set up my days – it is literally all on me. My colleagues do not have schedules like this – but as one of the few single, childless people on faculty, well, this is what I feel like I have to do.****

  • Work out, shower, and get dressed. This always happens before I start to work. Nonnegotiable. While working out, I also check through work emails that arrived overnight, read the paper online, and listen to sports radio/podcasts. Multitasking at its…worst? Also, yes, this includes my walk, and yes it is dark outside. I know. With the Eliza Fletcher murder, I should probably rethink this, but it is also often the only time that works for me to get outside for more than 5 minutes.
  • I’m usually at my desk with my coffee between 5:55-6:10 (yes, seriously, it’s this narrow of a window), then talk to my parents while also looking at Google news with half an eyeball. I work from about 6:30, sometimes 6:45, to 5ish. This includes a combination of: my own work, work on behalf of others, meetings, teaching, prepping for teaching, etc.). Plus, of course, checking emails, attending webinars for continuing ed, etc. I also, of course, eat, which is when I read blogs. Unless I have meetings, and then I eat during the meeting with my camera off. Each meal is probably 15-20 minutes – I prep my food on weekends so that I can grab it, heat it as needed, and eat. There are days when this gets broken up by appointments, or other one-off things, but for the most part, this is my work day.
  • Post work routine includes cleaning up the kitchen, taking a quick lap of my building outside (I need SOME fresh air during the day!), taking a shower (my signal that the day is really over), PT, reading the paper online, and emailing my parents. Yes, I talk to them on the phone, and email them almost every day. It makes all of us happy, so I do it.
  • Then, dinner, during which I read more blogs, and the evening routine of cleaning up, tea, reading, and dessert. Ice cream. Always. Then I brush my teeth, read in bed, and pretty much fall asleep the minute I turn out light.
  • Repeat.

The only time this changes is on teaching days, Thursday (clean the bathroom and go grocery shopping before I start work, so I tend to start about 45 minutes later than usual), and weekends (do other things first thing in the morning, so I don’t sit down to work until 7:30 or so).

I’m basically working full days, 7 days a week, and this year is particularly bad. I need to hit certain benchmarks so that I can be considered for promotion next year, so the pressure is on. Even though I’m pretty sure this is unsustainable, I struggle with how to change.

This is why I haven’t been here, why my comments on your blogs are even later than usual. I hope to show up more in this space – how many times have I said that? – because I like to write here. I like connecting with you all here. And dammit, somehow, I need to figure out how to feed just a tiny bit of my soul.

From Bill Watterson, of Calvin and Hobbes… “Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement.” Yes, it is rare. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

12 thoughts on “Enough

  1. Anne, that is a lot. That is a busy schedule and I don’t blame you one bit for being exhausted and at your wits’ end. Not to mention you just recovered from a very big injury. I hope you can get a little breathing room and some space to just be.

    1. Thanks, Nicole. I was just…frustrated. And it’s a lot of whining, to be honest, about a situation that I really put myself in. Which means that my next post needs to be about… what am I going to do about it! Time to actually, I don’t know, CHANGE something. Finding the space and time to just be is so important – and I need to find that, and put it back in my life. <3

  2. Oh man, I had no idea you were working 7 days a week! That’s a lot, friend. I know it’s very, very typical for those of us who are single and childless to make these excuses for why we can take on more work – after all, we’re not juggling relationships and children on top of everything else, but work/life balance is something all of us deserve, no matter what. I hope you are able to strike a better balance so you can get back to doing things you love. <3

    1. Oh, friend, I know you get the single-and-childless conundrum. It is definitely something we tend to do – and I know I got even worse during the pandemic, when my friends were having challenges working at home with small children afoot, etc. I always just stayed quiet during meetings when more senior faculty would ask how the junior faculty were doing, because I didn’t think I had anything to complain about. One reason I love reading your blog, and San’s, and everyone else’s, is that you show me it can be done. I, too, can figure out a way to put life back in my life. (Plus, well, your cats are cute and pics of them don’t make me sneeze – ha!) Next post will be more on, okay, now how do I CHANGE this?? (And suggestions will be welcome! :>) <3

    1. Thanks, Suzanne. It’s been frustrating. And it’s something I put on myself – so that makes it even MORE frustrating. I – and only I – can dig myself out of this hole. I just have to actually commit to doing it!

  3. GIRL, NO.

    This was honestly my gut reaction to your post. This is not sustainable and you need to change your schedule. And really, there’s no ‘who has it worse’-competition going on. Sure, there’s always people who have it worse than us and it’s a good reminder to keep a little perspective, but that doesn’t erase the challenges that you face in your every day life.

    Also: I get where the thinking is coming from, but again: NO. Don’t ever tell yourself that just because you’re single and childless that people can place more demands on your time.
    I am pretty sure, from all I’ve read, that you’re a hard worker and go above and beyond all the time, but you also can’t let people think that you’re ALWAYS available.
    I personally realized (much too late, I might add) that if you say “no” sometimes, people have way more respect for you than if you’re constantly trying to please everyone. (Imagine that!).
    All this to say, take care of yourself friend and set some healthy boundaries. We work to live, we don’t live to work!

    1. San, thank you so much for this. I think I need you to give me a crash course in work-life balance, because it sure looks like you have it all figured out. (I know IG is often the “highlight reel” but you definitely have a better balance and perspective on all of this than I do!) I confess that one reason I love reading all of your blogs is that you all have LIVES and you post about them. That does make me wonder, though, what am I doing wrong/differently that’s keeping me from having the same kind of life???

      And you’re right – I do have a tendency to fall into the comparison trap of, “I have absolutely nothing to complain about, compared to friends who have spouses/children/childcare challenges/worse teaching assignments/etc.” It got worse during the pandemic, when I really didn’t think that I could have anything to complain about, given what my colleagues at work were experiencing. But you’re right – stress is stress, even when it’s self-imposed.

      So now I have to figure out, what do I DO about this? How do I change? I have a harder time implementing change on my own, vs. implementing change that someone tells me to do. But, I got myself in this situation, now it’s time to get myself out of it! (Do you want to maybe offer a boot camp on this? :>) Thanks again, friend. I know I can always count on you. <3

  4. No no no no no. Working 24/7 is not a privilege and it’s not first world.

    The best advice I can give you is to take a look at your peers who are not working 24/7 who are also after that promotion and get your work day in sync with theirs. Yeah I know you don’t have 10 kids that you have to get to school in the mornings, but what would happen if you started work later in the day tomorrow? What would happen if you didn’t work this Saturday? Then on Monday take a lunch break. Exactly what is it that wouldn’t get done? Just experiment to start taking back your time. It won’t get better overnight but see if you can start moving things in the right direction. You hit the nail on the head – this isn’t sustainable for anyone and you have a right to a better life. And hugs and good luck!

    1. Thank you so much for saying this, and for the (gentle) figurative shake of my shoulders. I know that I should know that what you say is true, and that I need to pay more attention to how much I am doing compared to everyone else. But oh, it’s hard. I tend to catastrophize (no…. you say, sarcastically ;>) and so the idea of *taking a day off* gives me palpitations. I am working on these perfection-related issues in therapy but wow, talk about a slow go.

      In the meantime, I’m going to try, at least, to build in a fun outing each weekend. The thrift shop, to donate. The half-price book store, to help clear off my shelves, etc. Maybe even…. something like a hike before it gets too much colder. (I KNOW – the insanity! :>)

      But again, thank you, for being here, and for so clearly stating that I can take steps to make this better. <3

  5. I say “enough” to that as well! I hope you find some way to make more time for you. And you can always complain, even if it’s something of your own design. I get it. I hate feeling overly busy!

    1. I just hate complaining so much… it makes me feel like a whiner (which, well, makes sense since whining usually = complaining…).
      And I really do try to look on the bright side of most things, but sometimes life just has other ideas.
      I have some ideas for finding time for me – but the biggest challenge is actually DOING them. I talk a great game, but I often don’t make the necessary changes/do what I need to do to actually make the time and, you know, do the fun thing. (It probably doesn’t help that I don’t have anyone else around urging me to do the fun thing… hm…)

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