I was lying naked in bed several weeks back with a gentleman sir I have been intercoursing with for a number of months and we were discussing the artistic projects we individually have on the go. I named off some of my endeavours and he did the same. After I heard his list spoken, I shook my head in response to my own workload and said Ah, I should be doing more; I feel like I’m doing nothing. He heard this statement and looked surprised, confused and concerned, as he just heard me state numerous cool things I’m developing. He replied, It sounds like you’re doing a lot. I shook my head even more aggressively this time and insisted that No, I’m really not; I’m not doing enough–believe me. We then changed the topic to phone apps, chatted about those babies for a bit, and suddenly it was two hours later and the morning was kaput.
When I glanced at my phone and realized it was already 1 pm, I leaped out of bed and exclaimed Holy shit! It’s 1 o’clock. I have so much work to do. Oh god. I gotta get up and start writing and emailing and editing and writing again. I can’t believe it’s so late. Fuck. Fuck. FUCK. You gotta put your pants on. I gotta put my pants on. WE BOTH NEED TO PUT ON PANTS. He quickly pointed out how my current attitude about the intensity of my work schedule is rather contradictory to my previous frustrated attitude of not doing enough from a few hours ago. As he was putting on his pants, he asked if I realized how I’m currently panicking ˜cause I have tons of work to do yet I was saying how I need to do more and I do nothing back in the AM.
I acknowledged the paradoxical nature of my words and explained that I speak in opposites often. I can go from I love this piece I wrote, It’s awesome to Jesus, I’m so awful at everything ever always in under a minute. The topic of my career is usually ripe for contrary thoughts and feelings. I can rant and sob and laugh and cheer in a single breath. My motivation for stress is diverse, too. I’m either freaking out because I’m overwhelmed or underemployed. There is no neutral, content grey area. There is no in-between. Even when I do consider myself busy, as soon as I have a slow moment I pile another bunch of logs on the fire until my entire calendar is fiercely burning and the thick smoke is suffocating me. But even when I’m suffocating, I don’t allow myself to take a short break. I am continuously criticizing myself for not achieving my dozens upon dozens of goals instantly within the day that I write them down in my too long to do list.
No matter how many sleepless nights I have consecutively or how much I accomplish in a week, I still scroll through Facebook and see what my hundreds of talented friends are up to and I think Shit. Why am I not as good? Not as successful? Not as occupied every single second of the day? Why don’t I hustle like them? Why didn’t I meet those deadlines? Why didn’t I pursue that opportunity? Why don’t I also do this and that and the other thing too? WHY AM I NOT EVERYWHERE AT ONCE? Social media is a haven for career anxiety and self-doubt and life uncertainty and it’s not only the birthplace of professional jealousy. it’s the botanical garden of personal envy as well. They look so happy, I whisper as I like photos of smiling couples on Instagram and wonder if I should be kissing a tender cheek at a cottage in the summer too. I’m not doing enough, I mutter to me, having switched priorities for a sexy minute.
That’s when I hop onto Tinder and swipe right for five hours straight until I can’t see straight and I can’t recall which way is left and I have collected a hefty amount of exciting matches. I casually converse with a few cute, funny individuals. I even schedule some dates. Too many dates. WAY too many dates. Then when the following week arrives and I realize that I have double-, triple- or quadruple-booked myself once again, I have to reschedule or cancel or cut evenings short like mad. This is not a healthy dating life by any definition. I know this, but, I do it because in my mind I think I should. I think I’m not doing enough people therefore I overcompensate by piling on a bunch of suitors until the hot smoke is suffocating me. I adore dating and sex and love but I don’t adore disappointing people and backing out of plans.
And it’s not just in the romantic realm and the professional sphere that I do this. This also happens in the friendship zone. My FOMO is strong in that territory. Witnessing one exchange between two buds on Twitter who are clearly going to be hanging out can send me into a fury of loneliness and weeping and no one likes me moaning. Why wasn’t I invited to this? I wonder, not understanding in that juncture that people I know are indeed permitted to engage in social activity without me. And how do I respond? I Facebook message every close friend/good acquaintance/old roommate I have ever encountered and ask to get coffee. Do I want to get coffee with these people? Of course. Do I have time available to drink back-to-back lattes with each one all day long? Absolutely not. When I fill my conscious 16 allotted hours with multiple cafe soirees, I’m not able to pay my bills ˜because I haven’t finished a single assignment.
So, what’s the solution to this conundrum? Well, firstly, I should relax, take a breath and chill out in a bath occasionally. Secondly, I need balance. There needs to be a balance between work and romance and friend hangs and self-care and being asleep. I have learned over the years that I can’t do it all. More than that though, I need to recognize that there is no such thing as enough but there is definitely such thing as too much. Too much results in double booking and getting sick and being exhausted and stressed out and overwhelmed non-stop. I’ve been and continue to be in a state of too much and it’s not enjoyable for anyone involved. Not for my colleagues or my pals or my lovers. But, the only way to prevent arriving in too much city is accepting that I AM in fact doing enough because it is totally subjective. I am the only individual who can determine if I am doing enough for me. I am also the only person who can cut me some slack when I begin to spiral down into a not enough black hole of insecurity and Facebook scrolling and Instagram couple photo liking and too much Tinder swiping.
I am a perfectionist and a workaholic and a hopeless romantic and incredibly ambitious. I should believe that I am doing enough career wise because I wouldn’t allow myself to do any less. And if I need a break from dating and sex and making out? Then great. There is nothing wrong with that. I am permitted to make that decision for my vagina. I am allowed to take a fornication hiatus. And will my friends understand that I am freelancing and need to focus on making money in order to live and might not be able to spend five hours chatting with them in the middle of a Tuesday? Yes, they will. ˜Cause I am friends with amazing, rational people, who are also super-busy and struggling artists for the most part as well. Overall, I need to accept that I am never going to be satisfied with the extent of work and love and fun present in my life but that doesn’t mean I need to triple my responsibilities in each area to feel more fulfilled. It won’t make me feel more fulfilled. It will make me feel too much. What I need to do is acknowledge the common dissatisfaction, resist the temptation to pile more logs onto the fire and then keep doing what I’m doing at a pace that I can manage and whatever pace I choose will definitely be fast enough.