keeping up with life while stressed

I debated whether to publish this or not. I’ve reworked it a few times. I’ve set it aside for a while. But, I decided to go ahead with it.

How do you keep going when life just seems to be a little overwhelming? This was me until a couple of months ago. For several months before that, everything seemed to be a little too much. I needed to find ways to shift the balance in order to move forward. One foot in front of the other … and I’m finally getting back on track. Some of this was physical, some psychological and some emotional. Once I was able to get the physical stuff under control, the other issues were easier to tackle. This will not always be the case and it won’t work for everyone, but for me at this time, I found what worked.

Even though I’m back on track, I’m not really back to my full self – I am still a little off kilter in some ways. There are things that I’m not sure about, things I need to take care of, and ways that I feel unsettled. There is a barely detectable but unaddressed level of anxiety. The challenge for me is to find ways to deal with this next set of issues.

How do you get people to understand that what they think is the problem is really not the problem? And that what they think is the solution is not really the solution? It’s funny. People often seem to think they know what is going on in other people’s lives and know exactly how to fix it. One problem with this line of thinking: I keep many things hidden from others. Maybe it’s because I’m an introvert that I don’t share certain things … or maybe it’s just human nature to hold some things back. It’s sometimes a challenge to deal with people who think they have you pegged but are off-base because they don’t know the full story … and, frankly, the full story is none of their business. Fortunately, although the “it’s funny” I started with meant “funny as in odd”, it seems that the solution for me is to find the humor in life and in other people’s responses.

People often assume that I need what they would need in a certain situation. Sometimes they pass along what they have heard from others. Sometimes people think I don’t understand the situation or that I’m fooling myself, or that I’m being stubborn. I understand this – I used to offer unsolicited advice until I realized that the recipients really were not asking for my advice! I know I can be defensive at times – I don’t mind asking for advice but don’t like being told what I should do, especially if I haven’t asked. This may in part due to the fact that, when I was younger, people often treated me as if I was clueless and younger than I was, perhaps because I tend to look younger or because I’m on the small side. Whatever the reason, I’ve found that people sometimes still talk to me like I’m a lost 20-something rather than a 57-year-old adult who has been taking care of myself since I was a lost 20-something.

What people fail to understand is that what is straightforward/challenging for one person is not necessarily so for someone else. It’s easy to take a few pieces of information and extrapolate from there. Yet, everyone is different and every situation is different. Tolstoy said, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Thinking about this concept on an individual level also seems to work – there is a certain generic happiness when all is well, but challenges or anxiety are often due to a unique set of circumstances. Yes, we learn from others and may have a general sense of how to respond, but applying what is true for the general public to an individual is an ecological fallacy.

How do you start to understand how to move in a new direction when you feel like you are stuck? There are just times when it seems like everyone else’s needs come first and your resources are tapped out. It’s hard to move forward when you seem so stuck. I am still struggling with this, largely because my mother is living with me. There are things I want to do and potential changes I want to make but feel too entrenched to move forward. Although Mom is 93 now, her brother, sister, and other relatives have lived to be 95 or 96 years old, so she has strong longevity genes! On one hand, I have some time to think about what I would like to do in the long-term future. Do I want to set things up so that I could work from other states or even countries? Do I want to try to develop a side gig to add a new dimension to my life? On the other hand, the status quo saps the energy to think about next steps and it’s hard to account for all the variables. At the end of the day, I’m back where I started. It’s frustrating.

I can’t help thinking about what I would do differently if i could start over again in my 20s. Would I choose the same path? Would I change things entirely? I am satisfied with my life overall, so I probably would not make big changes. But there may be things I would change. I think if I focus on identifying the things I would change, that would help me consider where to go with new a new direction. I’m also thinking about what I love to do and how I could add more of that into my life. I’m processing information and trying to learn more about myself and maybe laying the groundwork for something else to come … and that’s all I can do for now.

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