SAYEH'S LIVING LITHE! 18 Sep 2013
If you read last week's blog, you know that I am feeling stressed. But obviously I'm not the only one. Of course there are certain reasons or seasons when people feel the pinch of stress--planning a wedding, moving, starting a new job, welcoming a new baby, breaking up with someone, etc. But the more and more I talk with my girlfriends, the more and more it has become apparent to me that we are all stressed all the time. That it is always something. Even if we aren't going through some manner of the aforementioned, acute stress-inducing circumstances, we are all walking around feeling frazzled. Feeling like there isn't enough time in the day--for anything.
And I don't even contemplate stress here in the context of the question that we women have to face about possibly 'having it all.' I can't pretend to even begin to hypothesize how one of my best friends is getting her masters, teaching high school history, and caring for 2 kids under the age of 4, all while her husband works long hours and she keeps food in the fridge and on the table and off the floor. Nope. My mind is boggled. I don't have a fraction of her concerns and I often feel like she told me she feels...'like I'm drowning.'
We both often look back on the time that we lived together in college and afterwards, when she didn't have kids yet, and I wasn't contemplating joining my life with that of another human being's, and yearn for how carefree we were. We studied (well, she did), we partied, and obsessed over the transient men in our lives. But that's the rose colored, nostalgic version of that era. When in fact, if we're honest, we were both supremely stressed out then. We were contemplating what we were going to DO with our lives. We were making the transition to the 'real world' and realizing all of the responsibility we would be assuming as 2 high school teachers (at age 24! gah!). We were mad at our dads and our moms for not cutting us any slack and consistently lecturing us about money and life and and and...
We were a mess.
And now, 10 years later. We're still kind of a mess. But in a whole different way, with a different mess of problems. But yet we look back on our early 20s, a time of serious turmoil, where we cried a lot and wrote in our journals, and refrigerated bottles of red wine because we didn't know any better, and think ohhhh if we only knew how lucky we were. Just as my parents, who are dealing with the issues of their current moment in life--caring for aging parents while coming to grips with their own aging and retirement--tell us consistently how lucky we are, and how our problems really aren't problems.
Ultimately, we are all stressed. No matter what is going on in our lives and how great they will seem to us in 10 years. (It's kind of like not knowing you're actually skinny until you get fatter than you were in that picture where you thought you were fat.) But what's worse is that we are stressed and upset about being stressed and upset. Because we are told that we shouldn't be stressed. That stress will kill us. That it will age us. That it will make us fat and depressed. And so as if being stressed isn't enough, we are freaking out about why we are stressed and how to stop being stressed so that we don't die ugly and alone. Which is really stressful.
And it just makes me wonder. Are we crazy for having the expectation that we shouldn't be stressed? Because to be honest, everything stresses me out. And I like to think of myself as laid back compared to some people I know. For example, I stressed for about 5 minutes this morning about whether or not you have to put 2 spaces after a period anymore. (There are many conflicting opinions on this matter from the experts.) Stress! Pinterest? Etsy? Effing kill me. STRESS STRESS STRESS! Sure at first, I was enamored by the marketplace of ideas that these sites presented me. But then that quickly gave way to wondering why I'm so talentless. How come I'm not this creative? How come I don't have the wherewithal to make beautiful origami butterflies with just the tips of my creatively manicured fingers? Then I become overwhelmed by all the things that I want to learn and do and the projects that I want to take on and then I don't order anything and am left with a homemade, handmade, vintage hangover.
First world problems? Of course they are. Which then gets me stressed because now I'm an a$$hole who stresses about ridiculous things, like not knowing how to make a hat out of the hair you collect in your drain, when I should be grateful that I had bacon this morning and I have a Dyson vacuum cleaner and oh yeah...am not starving and that I get water out of a faucet without even realizing how really cool that is.
Awesome. So now I'm stressed out and a bad person.
What I'm realizing in all of this is that perhaps being stressed or upset that we are stressed is totally pointless. Perhaps the expectation that we won't be stressed when...we graduate or when our kids are old enough to poop on their own...or when we finally get that promotion or when...whatever, is a total exercise in futility and only begets more stress, which completely defeats the purpose. Perhaps human beings are meant to stress. That it's just the way of things.
Now, I'm not saying that we couldn't all benefit from a little green tea and some deep breaths and lightening our loads. We all know a woman who does do it all and seems to look happy and fresh while doing so. We could certainly take a page from her book...for sure. And in that spirit, I'll continue getting massages to relieve tension and will still try to be mindful of the things I take on, but I'm also going to cut myself some slack and realize life is just...stressful. And that's ok. And that while perspective is paramount, our problems are real and happening, and even though they aren't the same as anyone else's (read: starving), it's ok to feel bad about them, because their impact is relative to our lives as they are now, not how they could be (read: getting water from a well). It just means we're alive, and not that we're failing at it somehow.
See you in class!