Well, well, well. By all means, it has been a while. I’m not going to apologise for when I leave writing for yet another month, it’ll only feel redundant. I will say this: it hasn’t been a choice thing. I miss my little baby. I don’t know if you’ve noticed or remember, but I did a whole make-over session and then disappeared (apart from on Instagram, which oddly, I always seem to find time to prioritise). It was like a Gok series, except I never walked a naked catwalk because I grew too busy and forgot that my wardrobe was shite and that I needed to love myself.
But I’m back. I always come back. Give it a month and arguing that I know stuff isn’t just enough in the public realm, I have to bring it online too. Funny semi-related story: I commented on this post in a forum recently and someone called me self-righteous. At first, I was, like a tiny bit mad. But then I saw more people had liked my comment than the one I read, so I was okay again. No, I’m kidding. I actually transgressed from angry to agreeable pretty quickly. I concluded I probably wouldn’t be here: writing, sharing experiences and ideas, and largely over-talking, if I didn’t think such expressions of mine were of any sort of value. This is yours to consider negative or positive (hahaha).
On that note, it feels appropriate to introduce this month’s 2000 (or however, many) words of drivel/intellectual property (I accept both).
This time, I’m not going to use Eric Thomas for motivation. I’m going to try (keyword: try) to be less blunt and less harsh. Because as much as I don’t want this for you, I don’t want or need it for myself. Now, I imagine that most often the process follows as such: you land on my blog, you are made to feel guilty about waking up at 10am and for completing a mere 2 sub-par tasks for the day. Eventually, you vacate the space and move on with your life. No, well, I hope you leave more inspired than that. What I’m trying to say, is that while you get to escape a mix of Eric Thomas, MLK, Obama and myself (did I just group my influencers aside from myself, or myself alongside a series of great influencers? I’m unsure), these voices resonate in my ears 24/7.
But most of all, me with myself. And damn, there are times when I wish I could escape the pressure.
I was pacing the streets today to check off yet another task from the never-ending list, and all of a sudden, on a day (of all days) I was supposed to feel ultimately zen, I was hit by a massive wave of stress.
And here’s the thing. I hate stress. I hate it with a vengeance. At least, I hate the kind that captures life in a jar and sends it far into the sea to the point of invisibility. It sucks. And yet, I have invoked it upon myself a great deal lately.
I know it too shall pass; this stressful period. Life isn’t always characterised by such ordeals. Soon, I’ll be on holiday and I shall vacate these heavy stones. This shan’t be permanent either.
You see, while these stones are heavy, they’re not ugly. I actually really like them, and if you offered to take one (even with the intention to help), I’d respond no. I collect them. And the collection makes me proud. The more I have and the higher the quality, the better I feel about myself. Equally, the more I worry about maintaining each one. Sometimes, a single stone starts to grow heavier. The balance becomes harder. Even though I know can lift them, it near feels easier to crack under the weight.
I considered about twelve different topics before I did decide to write about stress today. Why would one choose to write about stress, I thought, in avoidance of the feeling? Surely this would just evoke more of its experience. And yet, when I was standing in the streets, and later, sitting at my desk, attempting to do work, I felt an innate urgency to vent in two very ‘McKenzie’ ways: through writing and through exercise.
The way I do tend towards depends on my availability of time. If it is spare, I will run or dance or move. I’ve noticed if I fail to do so, a period of 12 hours could be characterised the same as the previous, and somehow, be a worse experience. What’s made different by exercise? Not my body nor my perception of it, but my attitude. That’s all. The ability to escape, fantasize, become distracted and free is paramount to my everyday. It restores my sense of clarity and determination; my bounce and my positive attitude.
I was listening to a podcast (Optimal Living Daily) while I was running today, and it suggested this: to use your body in order to soothe your mind. It talked about the body as a tool; the way we forget its influence on more than just the physical realm, but our mental one too.
It highlighted some other pretty memorable things, for example, tracking what’s going well. Over the past month or so, I’ve balanced the most stressful period of uni to date, 4 jobs at both the same and different stages (new and old), friends and family visits, my 19th birthday, my best friend’s birthday and organising holiday plans (these from the top of my head only).
I’m not asking for a pat on the back so much as I am a kick in the foot. I did it again, guys. After so many people told me not to. My Mum. My boyfriend. My best friend. They’ll get on at me for tired eyes, yawns and my ever-expanding attitude. And yet, I’ll continue to respond yes to the point of absolute overwhelm. It’s a real catch 22. For while such craving for action has lead me to where I am (doing what I love and succeeding at it), it’s also how I’ve developed some pretty consistent bags under my eyes.
As I tick things off my list, and attempt not to see life itself as a list during these stressful periods, I tend to lose touch with what I’m actually doing. I hand in another essay. I squeeze in a shoot. I work another shift at the café. I run another 14k. I teach a good zumba class. I send off another voice recording. I present for a film festival. I complete and then I erase the once prospect from my notes. Aside from a few moments of feel-good reflection after a dance class or post a positive shift, I move on. That I don’t stop to give myself credit probably reasons why when one thing goes crap, it all feels crap pretty quickly.
Do you ever feel like 12 hours a day is enough to, I don’t know, take a single step? Often, there are so many things to do that the idea of even approaching one feels unworthwhile. So we do everything else. But this doesn’t make us feel good either. In fact, it merely amplifies the stress of having not completed nor attempted said 124 tasks.
Here’s something that helped me recently. Focus on one task at a time. If it sounds like you’ve heard it plenty times, it’s probably because you have. Sometimes, we ought to hear it again. First, focus on just a single task.
Multi-tasking is one idealistic phenomenon. Reality is, if you want to complete any task well, you have to devote your complete attention. Completing small, throw-away segments of 10 different tasks is rarely productive, much as it may feel a most bountiful approach.
I’ve decided recently (by this, I mean today) that I need to stop getting so phased by the amount of hours or lack of that we have in one day. It’s not going to change. It’s almost always going to feel too minimal.
But we have two choices here: we can blame the fact that life is short. And that time moves so quickly. Or we can say this, instead: life is short, but life isn’t that short. There is time to achieve. We just have to slow down. Breathe. Take a step back. And choose one thing. And then, when the time is right, the next.
My friend said something to me recently, probably not realising the extent to which I’d take it on board. He said, remember not to take life too seriously, Kenzie. I stood back, and I looked at this Facebook message. This ironically relevant message, filled with care and compassion. And I thought, hey, you know what? You’re so right. That’s exactly what I’ve been doing. And not once, not even twice, but consistently.
The funny thing is, you wouldn’t even know too. Hell, I wasn’t even aware! I laugh and I smile everyday. I’m spontaneous and fun. To myself and to others, it would appear I roll with the punches. To an extent, I do. But I also question the way I roll and every punch and why it happened and why it felt so hard or so soft and how I can avoid it in the future etc, etc. When it comes to where I’m at and where I could be, what I’m doing and where I’m going, I take it all so damn seriously. Perhaps it’s my personality – very likely, it’s also my age.
So if it is any compensation to you at all, this is me saying I’ve felt stressed and overwhelmed. I’ve looked happy (and indeed been happy) in a single moment just to work up a tizz later. I know for a fact that many of you will have felt the same. With impending exams, you’re bound to feel it again. And I just want to say this. For my sake, for yours, for us all.
That your best is enough. That stressful periods will end. And… that life is short. Give yourself credit. When you can, give yourself a break. Do things for you. And of all, don’t miss the track for you were too intent on racing to the finish line.
Let’s agree to talk soon, yeah? Until then, if you do want to talk stress (I’ve concluded it does help), throw me a message. I promise to offer you pity or praise if you need it. I’ll even integrate that crying emoji if it’s warranted too. Maybe we’ll wind up laughing, instead. That’d be nice.
From me to you, I send all the love. Best of luck for the times ahead.