How Staying Busy Kept Me From Being a Loser – and Backfired

It’s no secret that I overwork. When I have down time, I panic.

For years, I kept myself busy, busy, busy.

And empty inside.

Growing up, we had many chores. We didn’t go play until chores were done. And, as a perfectionist, I made sure mine were done beautifully. If my parents didn’t validate the work, I’d re-do them.

Stay busy, girl.

In my past, I’d stay busy with hobbies.

In my 20s, I over-exercised as my hobby – and it got unhealthy & obsessive.

In my 30s, I had an expensive scrapbooking hobby. I spent free moments creating a complete artifact of life from 1998 – 2007.

Then Jack was born. Keeping him alive became my hobby. I abandoned almost everything else.

I use being busy as a way to avoid being alone with myself. Sitting around means I’m a loser. Lonely. Alone.

If I stay busy, I don’t have to face that something feels off inside. A void I’m not addressing.

In my early 30s, I went to therapy to figure out what was wrong with me.

At our first session, my therapist, Joni, told me, “I want you to be able to sit on the couch and scratch your belly. And to know that that’s ok. That’s enough if that’s what you want to do.”

I was shocked. There was nothing wrong with me? I could just…be?!

I’ll never forget it. Nobody had ever told me that it was enough if I just sat on the couch and did nothing.

When I actively worked on practicing being OK with myself, everything started to change.

I got into a healthy relationship with a man who encouraged me to be me.

I excelled at teaching and gained confidence to become a leader.

I no longer made life decisions from a place of fear & comparison – like whether to have a baby, leave my teaching career, exclude toxic people from my life.

I’m 48 and still struggle with “just being”. I struggle with “doing enough”. I struggle with “being enough.”

I get panicky if there’s a lot to do and I’m not doing it all, perfectly, RIGHT NOW!

I want you to know I struggle with this – because I often encourage YOU to be kind to yourself.

I know how hard everything I ask you to do is: Breathe. Make realistic goals. Stop beating the shit out of yourself.

Because I’m over here, beating the shit out of myself, too. And reeling myself back in. And sitting down on the couch. Feeling antsy all the while.

It’s a process. Be mindful of it.


Sadly, the world lost Joni this summer; I’m still reeling. I think of her often.

She taught me that showing up is enough. I don’t have to prove anything in order to earn my place in someone’s life.

As we go flying through September, I know there’s a lot on your list. I know you want to go a million miles an hour.

I also know it’s not easy to slow down and be kind to yourself.

Can we just join hands for a moment – energetically – and remind ourselves to sit, scratch, and smile at the memory of a woman who knew what I needed far before I knew what I needed?

I hope you can unwrap this gift & use it in your life, too.

And if you need some support in this arena, reach out. We were never meant to do it all alone.

 

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