Can You Be Overwhelmed and Underwhelmed at the Same Time?
I started to type out “it’s been a hectic few weeks,” but then I realized that honestly, it really hasn’t. It’s been about my normal, if anything, it’s been a little less frazzled because for almost three weeks now, I’ve been in the same time zone. It’s been a while since I could say that! But between some minor hormone stuff that I’m working on figuring out and some training stress, combined with the usual stress of juggling jobs, I’ve been feeling a little bit overwhelmed. At the same time, I’ve been pushing myself to start/promote/finish a few new projects and get back to higher volume training, and finding myself a little bit underwhelmed with… myself.
I admit, as soon as I titled this blog post, this immediately hopped into my brain and wouldn’t leave:
Hilarious GIFs aside, I have to imagine this is how plenty of us feel most of the time: a combination of being completely overloaded and fatigued, but with the nagging suspicion that we’re not actually living up to our potential or doing as much as we can—but not knowing how to change that (or maybe knowing, but not having the “oomph” to get there.)
I catch myself wondering if it’s because I haven’t taken a true day off—honestly, I might not know how to anymore—in ages? Even on days away from typical work, i.e freelance jobs and coaching gigs, those days are always packed with personal projects and prep work. More often, days off simply don’t exist because if one job is ‘off,’ another two are ‘on.’ But again, that’s by choice.
I also catch myself trying to find physical things to blame: maybe it’s my blood sugar, going a little whacky? And sure—that’s entirely possible. But I also rationally know that the response to fix that is probably not eating a cookie.
I’m pretty sure the answer is along the lines of ‘mindfulness,’ but even that is a double-edged sword. I feel like mindfulness has become a little competitive, right? And, to be honest, I already am doing what I can as far as that goes.
When we talk about how rad the whole ‘digital nomad’ and freelance life is—and it is, really—we tend to leave out the fact that the effort it takes to live a baseline normal/healthy life is often pretty freaking hectic. And when you add on projects and racing schedules and whatnot stacked on top, it’s easy to completely miss that sunset because you’re typing away, or fall into a lazier routine of watching episodes of House instead of going for long walks to discuss how your days went.
Personally, I’m trying to find the balance between the two: House on the couch some days, walk and talk on others. Basically, whatever it is that I need at the moment to calm me down and make me feel like I had my chill time. Because I don’t care what the mindfulness experts or yogis with perfect Instagrams say, sometimes you need the glass of wine and the TV show.
Moral of this rambling post? I think it’s that it’s OK to be overwhelmed. And it’s OK to be underwhelmed. And I think they feed into each other: the more overwhelmed I get with various work and life projects, the quicker I use up my “get it done” willpower in any given day, and the less easy it is to muster the enthusiasm to keep pushing on projects, especially more personal ones that don’t have hard-and-fast due dates.
Hell, even in writing this, I’ve gone away from it 10 times in the past 5 months, and 10 times in the course of getting ready to hit publish in the last hour. That, I think, is the part that isn’t OK. Responding to immediate stuff and ignoring the longer term projects—or even simply mono-tasking to get this one done before moving on—is where I find myself quickly working into a state of overwhelm that then boils into the underwhelm. To bust through that feeling, I think a big part of what I need to do is actually focus on one task at a time, whether it’s for me or for a client, and keep chugging along that way—not always sidelining or ignoring the work I love in favor of the immediate-return stuff, and not ignoring the benefit of the occasional ultra-chill time.
What about you guys: is this sounding familiar, or have you cracked the code? Let me know in the comments!
I may not be perfect at getting things done, but I am getting pretty freaking good at traveling without a ton of stress… and you can learn my best secrets!