In May 2018, I wrote, but never published, an article titled, “Stretched Too Thin.” It was all about finding balance and included a short checklist to gauge if you were out of alignment. I’m not sure why I didn’t publish it as it appeared to be complete. I thought about tweaking it a bit and then publishing it today, but it simply didn’t feel right, despite the fact I’m stretched thinner than I’ve ever been in my life. For all of the upbeat, positive, and empowering advice, it’s not the place I’m coming from today, so publishing it would seem inauthentic. Here is today’s authentic version…
I’m struggling. Big time.
I left a job with a truly wonderful team back in September for opportunity I thought would elevate and challenge my career. Instead, it wasn’t what I thought and I ended up so stressed and emotionally broken down that I had to quit after only a few months, but not after I fell, face-first off the wagon and continually ate my feelings. It wasn’t pretty. I thought things were turning around when I accepted an adjunct position at the University of Northwestern–St. Paul. I can’t tell you how excited I was; this had been on my career bucket list since I was child. Being able to mold the minds of those headed for a career in public relations was invigorating, especially given the toxic landscape of media today. I had a nice few weeks of only having to worry about teaching, graduate school, and family. It was manageable, however, the money I made from teaching wasn’t enough to sustain our family, so I started interviewing for a full-time job. I landed at a wonderful place that was willing to work around my incredibly inconvenient adjunct schedule and also had a close commute. If you haven’t pieced together yet how many balls I have in the air now, let me break it down for you. I’m working a full-time job; working a part-time adjunct job that when you factor in the commute, prep, and grading endless papers/assignments is borderline a full-time job; attending graduate school (like a part-time job); and am co-manning an overly active, yet adorable, toddler who makes me want to rip my hair out (if he hasn’t already done it to me…literally). Somewhere in there is a marriage I’m attempting to give some love to and some self-care which I’m giving next to no love to. Sigh.
Clearly, I’m stretched too thin.
Now, if that wasn’t enough, this past weekend was the first-year anniversary of a best friend dying and tomorrow would’ve been my brother’s (not blood related) 40th birthday. Put a fork in me, I’m so freaking past being done.
I realize everyone struggles and it could always be worse (not helpful advice, so please don’t give it…to anyone), but that’s simply not enough to pull me out of the massive hole I’ve dug for myself. I’m in a cavern of stress and grief. Stress from an overly packed schedule that won’t lighten up until May when teaching is done, and more stress from the guilt of being so imbalanced I’m lacking time for myself and family. I’m grieving my old pre-baby life, the one which would’ve easily allowed me to attend memorial/remembrance bingo parties and nephew’s hockey tournaments. Also, the life that would’ve allowed me plenty of sleep, weekend time to recharge, or take an impromptu vacation to get some damn vitamin D because I live in the stupid tundra and am buried in snow.
Life is difficult, dark, and messy. It’s also beautiful, light, and full of endless potential. Right now, for me, it’s the former–a season in my life I’m weathering. I don’t know what God’s overall message or plan is for this time, but I’m continuing to look, even if through wearied, tear-fulled eyes. If you’re struggling, keep looking. Ask for help. Talk to someone…or write. Try not to hide away; strength can be found with others and in Him. Even though I feel like I’m drowning, I know I need to stop fighting, relax, and let my life vest do its job. There will come a time when I will swim at-ease again. Today is just not that day…and tomorrow’s not looking good either. But there will come a time when the clouds part, the sun shines on my face again, and I understand the lessons from the struggle.