I've posted a lot about pressure over the years, blogging pressure, mostly. Lord knows, I've felt it. Pressure to review books, review the newest books, keep up a schedule, be consistent, be more creative, do more things. But there's also a societal pressure, especially among all the Pinterest and Instagram posts, to cook more, decorate the house, make sure it's perfect and look good while we do it. Admittedly, most of these pressures are self-inflicted, and when you're a busy bee like me, the pressure can be fairly intense. I look across social media and see perfection everywhere and I think, "How the hell do I get there? That's obviously what I should be striving for."
Bullshit. Plain and simple. The internet allows us to show the world the best parts of our lives, editing out the really ugly stuff, and it's a skewed view. Many have written about this more eloquently than I ever could. Trish from Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity did a great job when she posted about her life NOT being perfect. Amanda from Fig and Thistle brought it all back home with On Being Okay (or Not).
I'll tell you a little something about myself. I've struggled with depression all my life. There were periods when I was on antidepressants because I had to be, and there were periods when I wasn't on them that I didn't want to get out of bed. Or that period in grad school when drinking six days a week was a super fun way to blow off steam.
In the years when I was a struggling adjunct instructor, I didn't have insurance and antidepressants were no longer an option, and I had to find other ways to cope. Namely, staying busy, engaging my mind as fully as possible helped me avoid those deep dark funks. I realize this wouldn't work for a lot of people, and I'm certainly not telling you to go off your meds if you're in this camp, but when I didn't have the option for medication, I had to figure something out. This blog, among other things, helped me stay busy. It still does.
I get a lot of comments somewhere in the neighborhood of "I just don't know you do it all!" or "You're an inspiration because you're WonderWoman!"
Those things make me smile. Yes, oh yes, they do. But they're not the whole picture.
- I have a 40-hour per week job that makes me miss teaching
- I have two part time online teaching jobs that I refuse to let go because they improve our money situation so dramatically
- I have a short temper
- I struggle with my weight
- I don't exercise nearly enough
- I spend money on frivolous things WAY too often
- Student loan debt is a bitch
- I'm not affectionate enough to my awesome husband
- I don't sleep well, and that compounds EVERY other problem
- I stay busy to stay happy because if I don't, I'm not
There's been a lot of discussion lately about plagiarism in the blogosphere. Plagiarism that erupts from being overwhelmed, desperate. I can tell you from 11 years of teaching...that's a very common cause. Let's just stop all the WonderWoman talk right now. None of us are WonderWoman. Most of us are overwhelmed at some point in the day or when we can't sleep in the middle of the night, and we have to be kinder to ourselves and come to terms with fluid priorities. With letting some things go.
I cut out publisher reviews a long time ago because they stole my joy. They were more pressure. My house is half decorated because 1) I lost interest 2) I was tired of spending money on a Pinterest life. Sometimes I think I stay at my job because it's low pressure, there's no traffic, and the benefits are amazing. Not exactly inspiring, but it's true. I live on a mental treadmill to keep myself from being a complete and utter bitch to everyone around me.
Fluid priorities. Some things have to give.
Let's get real, and let's get comfortable with giving ourselves a break so we can maintain our integrity and our sanity.