Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I don't care for sugar, honey

When I was in kindergarten, my teacher told my mom that I’d been keeping a ‘carpet schedule’. A few girls asked me to sit by them everyday at reading time and, Catholic five-year old that I was, I began to feel a creeping panic each day prior to our carpet sit. To solve the problem, I created my first-ever spreadsheet, my crude crayoning giving each of my four best friends equal time next to me.

This is my first memory of maximizing situations - I overanalyze situations that didn’t need to be analyzed at all, ‘fix’ things that weren’t really in trouble. Any other kindergartener would have sat wherever she pleased, not thinking for a second that it would make a long-term impact (I guarantee you, those girls don’t remember my name, much less that they wanted to sit by me) but I maximized the situation by making the schedule.

As I grew up, this small problem grew into a pretty enormous guilt complex. As a result, I try to cram things and people in where they don’t belong. And when I leave these forced appointments, I don’t ever feel less guilty. I just remember the next person I have been bad at keeping in touch with, the next invite I haven’t accepted. My guilt is on a loop, and the one person I’ve just pleased or date I’ve just kept is recycled again to the bottom of the list.

Yesterday, I nearly drove off the side of a parking structure. It was snowy, the visibility was crap, the structure was not well laid out but mostly, I was rushing from a pre-work coffee meeting that I’d set up with an old co-worker. I didn’t have time for this meeting, and she never asked me to make the time. It was just me, with my grown-up carpet schedule – it’s now a full-blown mental list of people I love but don’t see, that I try to juggle in the best way I know how.

I don’t think there’s a clearer signal that it's time to slow down and take control than your windshield shattering onto your lap, while your car edges over a 15-foot drop-off. Once I was able to breathe and get out of my car, I knew it was time to reevaluate. Time to not only acknowledge that I can’t be everything to everyone, but to act on that knowledge. To say the words, “Sorry I can’t” without remorse or second thought.

So I’m starting with this blog. This blog is a time-suck. I don’t have time for this blog. I won’t be participating fully in any of the challenges that are popping up for the year’s end. You, my seven readers, are the easy part of my new personal pact. I have very little remorse for abandoning you on these challenges, which I think has to be a sign of a healthy web presence/reliance.
Next up are the purging of my Facebook invites, closely followed by the deletion of all voicemails I've been meaning to return. I will archive the emails that sit in my inbox, whispering "Four days and no reply? Why are you such a terrible friend?" There will be no more coffee dates tucked in between other engagements.

I do think you're great, internet friends. But now you know my deep, dark secret- I'm the gold medalist in guilt. This year, I'm taking myself out of the running.


Chicago Career Girl said...

Omg. I am so glad you're ok! Hang in there.

Jamie said...

Oh my GOD! I'm so glad you're okay. The pictures look like the embodiment of holiday stress. I'm so sorry.

Totally understand the need to cut back. Had to do this when law school started. Then law school proceeding to fill in ALL the empty spaces, but for a while, I was a lot happier.

Good luck <3

KC said...

Glad you're okay!

Yeah, don't feel guilty about the blog. The blog is supposed to be fun.

dw said...

Yeesh - glad you weren't hurt. I'll miss the blog, of course, but KC's right - it's just for fun.

LH said...

Yikes! Hairy Scary.

Have a relaxing night!

trulybrilliant109 said...

Sweet Jesus. Um, that makes me not want to go near a parking ramp again. It's too bad you're taking a well-deserved respite -- I've enjoyed your stuff. Take good care of yourself Wooden Nickel Lady.

Anonymous said...

Holy moly! Totally understand what you mean. Good luck at saying no - sometimes it's just what the doctor ordered.

Emily Anne said...

Pics are just as terrifying as the image I had in my head. So thankful you weren't hurt. Even more glad that by the time I read this post you already decided to do the reverb challenge. :) xoxo

Gina Marie said...

THX for the love, y'all. By far the weirdest day of my life... onward, upward, yeah?

TrulyBrilliant, I'm reading you now! Best of luck w/ the media challenge. I can't believe how much media you teachers use and how damn good you are at figuring it all out.

Shannon Clattenburg said...

From one guilty conscious to another - Thank You for writing this! I once ran out of gas on the way up to a charity golf tournament on the top of a mountain (which, I also had zero time to do, nor was I pressured - it was ALL ME!)

Yay for you for realizing it is time to cut back! Although if you do end up leaving us, I will surely miss you!