Slowing down is not something I do very easily. I talk fast, walk fast, eat fast, and I think even faster. If I’m not doing something, I think up some strange task to be doing. Sitting still is not one of my strong suits. Even as I write this blog post, I am making a list of things I have to do on a sticky note. I’m that girl in lecture who’s taking notes, watching the Yankees on MLB pitch-by-pitch, sending e-mails, and coordinating dinner plans. I find it very difficult to stop moving…until I can’t move anymore.
See, I do this thing where I go and go and go and then all of a sudden, I run out of fuel. Enter two-four days of laying in bed with flu-like symptoms watching Gossip Girl and sleeping. At first I thought I was actually sick, that I had caught awful colds at inopportune times in my life that forced me to stay in bed for days at a time. Now I realize my body makes me sick so I stop moving. Which is unfortunate.
I’ve spent a fair number of hours in bed this week getting 8 hours of sleep, eating soup, falling asleep in my books, and watching Grey’s Anatomy. Let me tell you, it is driving me crazy. And so I’ve decided, enough is enough. I will no longer fill my schedule to the brim and still find time to catch up on my Netflix queue, read a book, and tweet at everyone I know. I will no longer skip going to the gym so I can take a nap because I will have gotten enough sleep the night before. And if all goes well, I will not spend anymore time in bed as a prisoner to my own stressed out body. I will spend time there with Derek and Meredith or Chuck and Blair or Snow White and Prince Charming on my own accord.
However, before this all can happen (and it will happen…I hope), I should probably get to the root of the problem. As a psychology student (Yes, I’m a psychology student not an education student. Shocking, I know.), I feel especially compelled to uncover the cause of my ridiculous and unproductive behavior. So the question I am asking myself is: Why do I feel the need to constantly be busy?
Now, Freud would have a few answers for this. They would probably be that I wasn’t loved as a child, that I cannot come to terms with my sexuality, and that I secretly want to be a man. I’m going to reject all of these because they are all wrong (Freud is usually wrong. He is just so good at being wrong you can’t prove him wrong.). Instead, I’m going to go ahead and say my need to go, go, go without pausing is…I want to change the world. This is a very daunting task for an overachiever like myself because there are unfortunately many, many things wrong with this world. By taking on as much work as I possibly can, I am ensuring that I am doing enough work to somehow make a dent in the heaps of work that needs to be done. So…work+x=mental flu. However, in the process of trying to change the world, I not only bite off more than I can chew but I also convince myself that I am responsible for the well-being of everyone on the planet. This is emotionally taxing. Work+excessive emotional burden=mental flu.
Discouraging word problem solved. The actual solution, however, is much more difficult to uncover. Because I’ll always be an overachiever who can’t sit still. In fact, as frustrating as it is for me to admit, I don’t think I’ll ever come up with a solid solution and I’m not sure I want to. I would rather be an overachiever/workaholic than someone with…free time. Still, I think the whole mental flu thing needs to stop and so, I have a small and temporary solution: I’m going to slow down. Not for very long. Maybe 5 minutes, maybe an hour. However long I can stay away from the task at hand. I’m going to slow down and do what I tell my students to do when I teach them about mental health: take some time for you.
The next few weeks are crazy. Finals, job interviews, papers, packing, and graduation. I, for one, am going to try to take some time to slow down and take some time to do things that I like, just because I like them. I’m going to lay in the sun for 5 minutes, finish reading The Tale of Despereaux, drink my coffee and enjoy it, maybe buy some sunflowers. Everything else will always be important to me however, over the past few days I’ve learned that if I don’t slow down and look around at other things, I could end up in bed missing everything.