There’s a thought I keep having…a feeling like nothing I do is enough.
It doesn’t matter if I spend the entire day working, or teaching back-to-back classes, or taking hours out of my nights planning sessions and presentations. Somehow none of that is worth taking a day off, a few hours to relax, or 30 minutes to watch a sitcom. There’s always that lingering guilt, insecurity and anxiety that sets in on a morning that’s abnormally free, upon the realization that I have time to watch two consecutive episodes of a show, or worse…when I find myself having a blank page in my daily planner.
I think today it finally hit me. This morning as I sat skimming through my calendar wondering why I felt so calm (because that’s just wrong) something just clicked. I’ve always had anxiety about money, about wasting my time, about not being perfect or getting things right, but now I’m realizing that my anxieties extend far beyond this, to a realm where not being stressed out, tired, cornered and unhappy makes me feel invalid. It has somehow been ingrained in my mind that the “normal” way to live is taking life seriously every step of the way, so much so that when I find myself relaxing, the sensation I get is so uncomfortable and unfamiliar that I have problems stomaching even the thought of pausing for a moment.
Literally speaking, I work the equivalent of a part-time job when measured in hours worked. However as many teachers know, our work extends far beyond classroom teaching hours, as lessons have to be planned, assignments need to be marked and in my case, business related mumbo-jumbo needs to be documented etc etc. Other than this, I’m pursuing my master’s degree so like many others I have studying to get done, notes to take and readings to well, read. When I finally do find a day to relax, how can I possibly work in feeling good about it.
So that’s when I decided, or my anxiety decided for me, that I definitely had a problem.
I mean the other day I managed to squeeze in a 2-hour nap, after much fatigue, and when I woke up I felt horrible. When people say things like “you’re living the life” or “what do you do all day anyway?” I always feel a pang in my chest, my subconscious reminding me “you’re not good enough, you’re not valid, you’re not…” – I go from 0 to 100 on the self-deprecation scale real fast.
Everyday is a battle to convince myself that there’s no need to feel like that, and that what I’m doing doesn’t need anyone else’s validation – but jeez..that’s easier said than done. Anxiety weighs me down, and while I refuse to let it sink me every single damn day it’s a battle between me and the ocean floor. I imagine myself swimming upward, pulling at the water like it’s a rope I’m grabbing and fighting with to get to the surface, to touch the sunlight. And with every stroke an air bubble is escaping, my lungs are burning and the darkness is just closing in around me.
Everything is impossible and nothing is impossible. Everything makes sense then nothing does. Some days I’m fearless and determined and other days I tie another weight to my ankle and…relax.