Nothing Is Okay Today
It’s Sunday morning. Cloudy, after a nice Midwestern rain shower overnight. I’ve slept in my own bed at home after a week of vacation in Florida. Why is it that even though vacation can be so wonderful, so relaxing and restorative, there is still something to be said for sleeping in your own bed? Comfort. The thrill of monotony and my favorite sheets. I didn’t even set an alarm for myself last night and that’s when it all begins for me.
I battle insomnia on a regular basis partly due to working the night shift for several years, but mostly because my mind won't stay quiet in the wee hours. It runs marathons. We have a lot of medals in that arena.
My days are fueled by caffeine and busy to do lists to keep me from crashing for a nap in the afternoon every day. Because naps are for toddlers. Not for hustlers and grinders. Not for people trying to make a way in the world and make something of themselves. No one pays off $71k in debt while they’re napping. (Thanks student loans. You know the ones I accrued to better myself.)
And I feel intense guilt for not setting the alarm. Because sleeping in is laziness. A decent hour to wake would be what? 5:30am? 6? Because that’s when things get done apparently. That’s when businesses are born and ideas are cultivated and lives are changed with each keystroke of a laptop computer.
So I wake at 7:30, (moderately decent?) but not refreshed because my mind has been going, going, gone all night that I didn’t set the alarm in the first place because alarms are for hustlers. I am not a hustler, I determine, on the one day out of the year that I am not on vacation. Nevermind I have worked intense overtime the last two months while two colleagues were out and scheduled/shot/edited/delivered over 20 photo shoots. Nevermind that today because today I did not wake at a ‘decent hour.’
And then I jaunt down the street to the coffee shop for some breakfast tacos and a coffee and I can’t help but ‘use my time wisely’ while I wait for my food by researching recipes for the Whole 30 diet I am about to embark on, on Monday. Because all diets start on Mondays. Sundays are the Lord's days.
All the while, in the back of my mind, someone is screaming, NOTHING IS OKAY TODAY.
So why don’t I feel like it’s okay for nothing? What is it about stillness that makes me feel so unsettled? So unprepared or worse, so worthless?
I had a unique conversation with a dear friend over her recent dilemma of having to cancel plans to attend an event at the last minute. Mulling over excuses she could use to cover up the real reason she didn’t want to go, like some covert FBI operation to keep the event and the people at said event from ever finding out she didn’t really want to be there. And it struck me so hard that not wanting to do something is a PERFECTLY FINE EXCUSE TO NOT DO SOMETHING.
And herein lies my inner anxieties on the daily. Not wanting to set an alarm for one day out of the year that I am not on vacation is a perfectly fine excuse not to do so. Not wanting to put on makeup, or real clothes (WHAT are real clothes anyway?!) to run for tacos and coffee is a perfectly fine excuse not to do so. That doesn’t mean that I will eat tacos and coffee for every meal because I want to, but it means that I will not be doing things, wanting things and making expectations of myself based off of what someone else says is good for me anymore.
I went on a date once with a nice guy who told me he got up every morning at 4am to start the day. FOUR AM. But he pounded at least 4 cups of coffee every day to stay awake and once when he told me he slept in until SIX on a SATURDAY he felt intense guilt.
What are we actually doing here? It’s like productivity is the buzzword of the decade and we’re killing ourselves over it. The every day hustle and bustle rat race of life, of never slowing of never doing nothing, is making us physically and mentally ill. Dare I say if we need more than one cup of coffee in the morning or afternoon to make it through the day, we need an intervention. We busy ourselves and cram it all into the calendar and for what? Hurry and get it all done but remember to document it so you can remember you actually did it. Because like people say of a their wedding day, “I don’t remember any one thing in particular, it was all a blur.”
So we fill up our instagrams and facebook feeds with all the events all the days we can because what is a life actually lived if you don’t have a way to document it? I downloaded an app once called one second every day, that curates a 31 second video every month, 365 seconds a year, for you to look back on how you lived your life.
And actually thinking about what I want that ONE SECOND to be on the video, to make that ONE SECOND be meaningful, stresses me out so much I deleted the app. Even though a lot of my seconds are filled with seeing patients at work. Filling prescriptions and teaching moms how to breastfeed their newborns and writing and cooking and seeing movies with friends. A life that sounds meaningful on paper, so why doesn’t it feel meaningful when I am doing it? Why do I need to write it down to remind myself of what it was? And why isn’t that ENOUGH?
I am reading quite possibly the best book I have read all year, Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner and it’s wrecking me in all the right ways. Shortly before she and her husband were married they found out he had an inoperable brain tumor. Max, he had about 17 years to live.
17 years. Enough time to raise one baby, if you start today. And so began her life of chasing slow. And I determine I will slow down. Today.
And then my computer buzzes at me. An incoming message of a friend asking if I can meet for coffee this week. An already impossible week I have crammed with 4 photo shoots, two 24 hour shifts and a 16 hour shift at work, two baby showers (that I have yet to buy gifts for so add that to the list) prepping and starting Whole 30 because my knees creak when I bend down (I am 30, thanks) all while trying to get to Barre at least three times this week because I bought a year unlimited membership and feel guilty I don’t use it enough and getting a mani/pedi/wax/spray tan because I am leaving for Hawaii in 9 days. And saying no to any of it makes me feel like I will miss out on all the things.
And usually I would insert an answer here. A way to solve all of it.
But I don’t have an answer. I don’t have a 5 point bulleted, pin-able list of ways to slow my life so I could have had actual time to say yes to a PERSON who asked to have coffee with me.
So I will leave this here. And I will fret over even leaving it, because inevitably someone will say, "Just wait until you have kids," thus making me feel like my life is now once again, less meaningful and I am insipid and naive for even writing about this in the first place. But I will still post this, this lamentation of my life and its days and how I vow to work on slowing down somehow and being okay one day, with days of nothing that mean something. Because if I don't document how I am working on it here, will I have ever really worked on it?