Monday, April 14, 2014

When is Stuff to Do Motivational and When does it Become Merely Anxiety-Inducing?

Around this time last year, I was speaking to a new friend and neighbor outlining all kinds of things I had on my to-do list at the moment.  At one point I said something to the effect of, "I just can't wait til I move so I can be settled and not have anything to do."  She laughed and chimed in that, move or not, I was the type of person who would always have something on the to do.  Fortunately or unfortunately, I have since realized that she is right and I am consistent and constant "do-er."

So when does the constant stream of things to do become overwhelming rather than keeping life appropriately busy?

For as long as I can remember I have been a list person.  Lists are the best.  I know this and say it publicly as fact.  Lists mean you won't forget anything and you have a feeling of even greater accomplishment when you get to see a former list all crossed out.  I start my week (often the Thursday or Friday before) by making a list of the coming week and include everything I know I have RSVP'd to or that I need to finish up.  I think this makes me feel secure, as I am often scatter-brained, knowing that I will accomplish everything I know needs to be completed.  These types of lists make me feel good.

But there are other types of lists that weigh at me, pulling energy from my psyche every time I glance at them.  These are the lists of projects I'd like to complete, debts I need to pay, etc. Basically lists that aren't immediately achievable.  These list wallow around for weeks (months) on end toying with my heart and sanity keeping me from feeling the sense of accomplishment that comes from crossing off the next thing.  I do make these lists because in the end I think it does help keep me on track, but I do not like them and I am trying to decide if they are, in fact, worth it.

But this post is not just about my literal lists.  I often take on more than I can chew and then have to handle the ramifications.  I'm sure none of you are silly enough to get caught in this trap...These are the metaphorical lists that rule my (our) head nooks and crannies when we'd like to be asleep at 2 AM, or those lame nagging things we need to think of before we drop everything to take a spontaneous weekend trip.  Namely, these are the things of adulthood and so far, I do not feel great about them.

But alas, that doesn't mean they'll end so I am trying to figure out how to make it work.  Namely, this week, I added to living and breathing things to my repertoire (no family, I did not have twins).  But these living things (spoiler alert: meow) are making my life a bit more complicated as far as scheduling goes.  I thought long and hard about this addition and while I know the good outweighs the bad, I am still feeling the gut-rumbling pangs of anxiety brewing in my belly.  What will happen when I'm away? How long can I leave them? What will they do to my couch when I'm not watching?  The last one is a very real fear but less important (truly).

While I thought of all these questions before I brought two animal carriers home, it has not stopped the anxiety.  I just signed up for things that could be around for the next two decades.  While it was easy to talk myself out of adoption with each of the above questions, I decided to really think where those feelings were coming from.  If "no" was coming from a place of true inability then that is something to be aware of.  But if "no" was coming from a place of unknown, as in, "I don't have to worry about those things now and thinking about them is so much more work than my current situation" then that's different.  Life will always be more work with a pet, with one job, with same old same old day in and day out.  But that'll get old pretty quickly.

So like so many of these posts, there is no happy ending here.  I have not become all-knowing after 5 days of cat ownership.  I do know that if I am consistently without plans or projects for too long, I become lazy and depressed and I am learning that weeks on end with no break in sight gives me headaches and makes me anxious enough to vomit.  Guess I'm going to have to figure out a middle...

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