A cup of tea and books in a cozy corner
Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

Giving up the Guilt

I can’t do it all.

It seems like such a simple and obvious fact. Of course I can’t. But I’ve been conditioned my whole life to expect that I should be able to do it all. An academic overachiever, a “gifted child”, there was nothing I couldn’t do and therefore it seemed that I should be doing everything.

My partner’s occasionally informed me that the only time I ever seem to really rest is when I am driven to it – when I am left with no other choice because burn-out or illness forces me to stop, for a moment. Never long enough.

I’m not good at letting other people do things for me, or asking for help, or taking the necessary time to take care of myself. Instead, I’m constantly taking care of everyone else around me, working two jobs, taking care of my house and my mom’s. When I do try to take a moment for self-care, I often feel guilty about it. There is that never-ending to-do list, after all, so many things I need to be doing but don’t have time to do.

And then, this morning, a friend linked an article on, of all things, Buzzfeed, about Millenial Burnout. I’m an older millennial, my partner at 3 years older is a younger Gen-X, but both of us could relate to everything the article mentioned. That never-ending to-do list, for one, that feeling of never actually managing to finish anything because ten more things get added before you’ve finished the first thing. The guilt over doing anything that could be considered unproductive or “resting” when you could instead be working.

But the lack of rest, the lack of unoccupied moments in my waking life, has continually sapped my creativity. Boredom is a necessity for a creative professional; it’s in those empty places where the new ideas come into flower, it’s in those moments of boredom where inspiration strikes, and while I don’t think a writer must wait for inspiration to be able to write, that doesn’t mean that at least an initial spark of inspiration isn’t necessary.

So I’m trying to stop feeling guilty for stopping. I’m trying to stop feeling guilty for not spending every waking moment doing something productive.

Maybe, at some point along the line, I’ll stop trying and actually manage it.

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash