I’ve been feeling a little down on myself lately. I’d like to think I’m a pretty positive person in general, but every once in a while I will be overcome by feelings of inadequacy. I start comparing myself to others and nitpicking all of my own flaws and suddenly the list of all the things I should be doing but am not seems insurmountable, and all I really want to do is abandon my responsibilities, crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head, and have a good long cry. All by myself.
If you feel like you’re burning out, stressing out or overwhelmed, maybe it’s time to step back and take a break. Here are 20 signs you’re pushing yourself too hard.
I love writing this blog but at times like this I have a hard time coming up with the right words to say. True or not, I sometimes feel like there is an ongoing expectation for me to be continually positive and upbeat, a source of “inspiration,” funny and light-hearted and witty. And much of the time I am. But the last thing I want to be is inauthentic and sometimes I am none of those things. Sometimes I am just a girl struggling to make it through the day.
A few weeks ago I was chatting with a dear friend and I observed how another friend of ours just seemed to have it all. Perfect job, perfect kids, always on top of things, always totally put together, while I’m the mom that can’t sadly even manage to shower most days, whose kids run around naked half the time and do crazy things like fall off the couch (or the bed) or walk headfirst into the counter or color all over themselves with marker for the gazillionth time. I’m the mom who neglects to return phone calls and emails, who misses show-and-tell day and snack day and whatever-else-I was-supposed-to-read-on-those-5,000-handouts-day, whose dog runs away because I forget I let her out, and who misses important events because I can’t always keep it all straight.
My sweet friend, who is far wiser than me, responded with something so profound it has been stuck in my head ever since. She said, “Don’t you know that everyone gets the same 24 hours?” She went on to explain that while from the outside looking in, all might seem perfect, no one can do everything all the time without letting something slide. Just because we don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not true. And it doesn’t make her any less of a wonderful person (because she is), it just makes her human.
I have been thinking about that statement a lot, and as I sit here struggling with my own insecurity, I realize that it may seem ironic to those of you looking in on me. Occasionally I’ll get an email or a comment telling me that I am an inspiration, or wondering how I manage to accomplish “so much.” It always makes me uncomfortable. Oh if you only knew all the ways in which I fail every single day!
I have the luxury of an edit button. I can show you a small sliver of my life, something I’ve done well, and quietly filter out the rest. It doesn’t mean what I’m showing you isn’t real, but it’s not always the whole picture, and I would hate to think I’ve made anyone feel inadequate by letting you see only the very best of me.
One of my favorite quotes is by Plato:
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
The truth is that most of the time we probably have no idea what our friends and acquaintances are struggling with behind closed doors. Ultimately we all edit the version of ourselves we present to the world to varying degrees, not out of a desire to be fake or someone we are not, but I think, perhaps, because we truly want to see ourselves as the person we present to others.
Perhaps we should make an agreement to stop comparing ourselves to each other when ultimately there is only One who we should strive to emulate. All we can do is all we can do, and at the end of the day, it is only grace that carries us through. Why waste any portion of those precious hours in self-doubt?
Everyone gets the same 24 hours. Today I just needed to remind myself.