Back in college, I used to get in these moods where I felt totally and completely overwhelmed by all my schoolwork, commitments, jobs, and other obligations. It happened most often around the time of finals or when I had a big project due, or when I was working on a major event for sorority. I would long to curl up with a book I wanted to read, as opposed to whichever one I was supposed to reading, and to just do nothing for awhile.
In graduate school in particular, I distinctly remember thinking I could not wait until I finished my degree so I could just work. I anticipated the days when I would do my job, then go home and do whatever I wanted to do, without worrying about research, classes, or exams.
For the most part, I really did enjoy all the free time I had after finishing school. Jeremy and I were already married when I completed my master's degree, and I had recently moved into my current job, which was a lot slower-paced and with much more normal hours than my previous one had been. It felt so good to just be able to relax and enjoy the evenings and weekends, without anything hanging over my head. (And I remember SO many weekends early on in our marriage when we both slept until nearly lunchtime, then might take a long afternoon nap, accomplishing absolutely nothing for the day. The beauty of being a young adult with few responsibilities, right?)
I have done well keeping my promise to myself to remember how stressed I get when I am over-committed, and I have kept a pretty low-key schedule for the most part. Sure, there have been times when I got a little too busy with one thing or another, or we had weeks when it felt like every moment was packed full. Once, just a few weeks after the girls were born, I was convinced I was going to have to give up teaching because I just couldn't handle it on top of managing newborns. (See--that "do nothing but work" phase did not entirely last...within a year or so of beginning my current job, I also started teaching part time at a local community college.) Naturally, I settled into the routine better after a few weeks, managed to finish the semester, and am still teaching today.
In the last month or so, I have realized that I have been letting my commitments and obligations stack up again. Addison & Mackenzie (and Jeremy!) are the first priority, as always, but I am also juggling my regular job, two online college courses (which I do still enjoy and plan to keep), serving on a local board, teaching Sunday School and working with youth at church, among other projects and everyday things. I let a project fall through the cracks this month, and for the first time in a long time, I feel like I really failed at something I said I would do. It's not a good feeling at all.
Still, at least I am aware enough to realize why it happened and to put a stop to the underlying issue right now. I am still the same type of person I have always been: when my day is done, I want to retreat with a book or tv (or a sewing or craft project), and let everything else go. I don't want to spend the hours between the girls' bedtime and my own working on something I don't even really want to be doing. Some commitments bring me joy, for the most part--teaching my online classes, working with youth, blogging and reviewing books--but my plate is full with all those things. For now, I need to face the fact that I can't add anything else, and focus on those activities I truly enjoy.
After all, I am an adult now; I get to pick and choose what I want to do with my time. I have learned that I function best somewhere between a jam-packed
schedule and a wide-open life of leisure, and I just have to move it
back into balance at times. I am getting back to being a little more picky about what I choose to do, and learning to say no a little more often.
Do you ever feel over-obligated? Have you learned your limits and when to say 'no'? Do you like to be busy or have lots of free time, or somewhere in between like me?