Hi Katharine, You're someone who works very hard all the time. Do you find your self extremely stressed all the time as well/live in a state of perpetual stress? It always seems like I have so much to do and as a result I so extremely stressed ALL the time. I'm trying to figure if this is normal or is it just me doing something wrong.
I really don’t feel stressed all the time – I feel busy a lot of the time but not stressed. Like I usually feel like I have something to do but I don’t routinely feel overwhelmed or stressed out by that busyness.
I remember I used to let the busyness make me feel stressed out all the time and like I couldn’t do something relaxing because it would just stress me out more that I wasn’t working. But as I got older, and more used to the overwhelming amount of work I take on, I think I just… got used to it…
Here’s the thing - when you were in elementary school and middle school (and maybe even high school) there was a point where the work ended. Like you did all your homework and prepared for your tests and then… you were just done. And you had a solid point at which you shut off your work brain and just did whatever you wanted.
As you become an adult through college and post-college education and jobs – there is never a point where the work ends.
Now as a super actual adult (something I can’t believe I am), I’m constantly balancing all the things that have to be done.
- I have to go to work
- I have to study surgery things to be a better resident
- I have to do adult things like get my oil changed or pay bills
- I have to do healthy person things like workout
- I have to do wife things like cook a meal for my husband
- I have to do dog owner things like walk my dog or make a vet appointment
- I have to do newlywed things like write wedding thank you notes
- I have to do daughter things like occasionally call my mom and tell her I’m alive.
- I have to do homeowner things and clean my kitchen or hang the paintings still sitting in our office.
- …. the list goes on.
But… I’m never going to get through my todo list. There will never be a single day in my life from now until the day I retire when I will probably actually get through all the things I’m supposed to do in a day. There are just only so many hours.
So I prioritize. I do the emergent things, then the urgent things, then the routine things, and then if I never get to the things that would be nice to do or could be done next week… it’s okay.
And I let a lot of stuff go – I go to sleep with a dirty kitchen. I quit reading surgery papers to go on a date with my husband. I let things go in favor of doing the things that make me a happier person.
You shouldn’t feel stressed all the time. It’s okay to feel busy all the time. Really. I think it’s actually the norm for most adults to feel busy who are trying to manage all the responsibilities they have – I think it’s especially the norm for young adults who are suddenly taking on a lot of “adult roles” they never had before relatively quickly and without a lot of training.
But don’t let the busyness consume you.
Let some things go undone. Work as much as you can, as hard as you can, as long as you can – and when you can’t work anymore or there’s something more important than work to be done – stop working.
The secret to life as an adult, my dears, is you will never again get to the bottom of a to do list… and that’s okay. No one does.