While I understand the sentiment behind motivational slogans declaring I can do it, it’s frustrating because sometimes that’s untrue. In an effort to not be That Person, i.e. the quitter, the disappointment, Debbie Downer, the crybaby, the subject of next week’s Dr. Phil, I’ve developed a relentless obsession with proving myself.
Likely, the intended goal of the modern positivity mindset was to combat Society’s longstanding belief that some lives are inherently less valuable than others, e.g. segregation, the glass ceiling, etc. But isn’t generic validation also a blanket statement?
To convince people they can be anything simply because they want to– opera singer, pro athlete, rocket scientist– is cruel; not everyone is equally abled. Moreover, some aren’t abled at all. As a result of the power of magical thinking, we find ourselves questioning each individuals’ contribution to Society, which puts us right back in the same spot (same attitude; different manifestation).
What if we’ve got it all wrong? Not about people’s right to explore an interest or to pursue a goal; about having the right to exist, which thereby grants them opportunities to try things.
Honestly, being emphatically told I can do anything presents a daunting challenge. It’s not that I’m looking for an excuse to be lazy; I hope my time on this Earth will have meant something. But what if I push myself to the limit? Then what?
It’s obvious what can happen to your immune system when you don’t slow down or take a break every so often. But I’m not being told to do my best; I’m being told to do something big. Something bold. Something epic. That’s a lot of pressure.
Today I had to miss an entire day of work because of a sock. My reaction? Naturally, a nuclear meltdown.
Because of my extreme contact sensitivity to corn, I have limited clothing options. Of my few clean clothes, there was only one outfit that was both work and weather appropriate. I planned to do laundry when I got home and so I went about my routine as usual. Last before heading out was putting on my shoes.
But where was my other sock? I couldn’t wear flip flops out on the sheet of ice that coating everything, not was I about to show up to the office in pajamas. Where was my other sock?!
Sure, I’m way behind on housekeeping after 2 weekends in a row up North. And was already behind from intermittent symptom flare ups. But there’s no time for that kind of thinking when it’s already past clock-in time.
I went from room to room making a pile of everything fabric. One at a time I lifted out each item and shook it out– nothing revealed itself. These made a new pile. I reversed the process multiple times. No sock.
Eventually, I resigned myself to the fact that I was just going to have to take the day off. I hated to do it, especially after being out 2 subsequent Mondays and Fridays. Granted, one of those was for a national holiday, on which work was closed anyway. And the rest were for a death in the family. Plus, as my coworker pointed out, the weather hit harder where I live, anyway.
But a sock day? Seriously??
What choice did I have but to start a load of laundry? I figured I might as well load the dishwasher, too. As I surveyed the newly consolidated mounds of clothes and blank spots were scattered dirty dishes had been, I consoled myself with the thought of getting at least somewhat caught up.
Then suddenly, out of nowhere, there it was: The Sock.
Part of doing your best involves setting boundaries. Prioritizing is hard, especially when people and tasks– each with their own agendas– pull you in various directions. But just like a preflight emergency plan explains: put on your own oxygen mask first. While helping others is a great instinct, you can’t do that without enough resources for yourself.
I’m learning that I can’t always do what I want, even if what I want is to get things done. I’m figuring out I need to schedule time to rest as needed. It is, after all, one of God’s Ten Commandments. Sometimes it’s harder to admit I need a break than to admit my own failures.