Under the Weight of Living

I’m struggling to be me. Struggling to find the time, energy and opportunity to be me.

 
To be me is to strive. To strive towards goals. To achieve. But just now I’m lacking clear goals and, if I had the chance to create those clear goals, I’m lacking the ability to achieve them.

 
Almost every day my time, energy and enthusiasm are eroded before I get a chance to tap into them. It’s a bit like when you build a wall of sand on the beach and the small waves lapping at its base continually and gradually erode it away, leaving little trace of that sand wall you were quite proud of.

 
What do I mean? Well, it’s complex. The factors at play are part of an interwoven web which makes it hard to write or talk about in any coherent and credible way. Such that when I try to convey it to friends or colleagues they must be struggling to comprehend what confusion I’m complaining about.

 
I’ve tried to identify the major elements to extrapolate the issues and identify how I can improve my chances of being in a position of achieving.

athens-street-art-paradeA typical day for me (times are ballpark)

  • 5.30 – 6.30am: get woken up by Ferdinand wanting to come into our bed after a broken and disturbed night’s sleep
  • 6.30-7am: drag myself out of bed and try and function to sort out Ferdinand and then me
  • 7.15-8.15am: sort out and eat breakfast with a great deal of noise, fuss, cajoling and stressing followed by trying to engage my brain into getting everything I need into my bag
  • 8.15-9.30am: commute. Drive 30-40mins to nursery. Drop off kids. Walk to Subway. Take Subway. Walk to office (by this time I’m already feeling beaten)
  • 9-5am: work: Generally left to get on with things
  • 5-6.30pm: reverse commute
  • 6.30-7pm: Catch up with Jo and the kids
  • 7-7.30pm: bath time
  • 7.30-8.30pm: bed time & stories
  • 9pm: eat dinner
  • 9.30-11pm: Try and muster energy to get things done, OR sit with Jo and watch TV or listen to radio, OR go to bed feeling done for and sad that another day has passed with no progress in achieving.

Sleep

I deliberately ignore every health, fitness, or lifestyle article that says ‘get good sleep’ as part of its ‘top tips for success’. This may well be correct, but in the real world, show me anyone with young kids who is a) getting enough sleep and b) is getting enough quality sleep to be able to achieve effectively.

I’ve had over 3 years of shallow, fragmented, unsatisfactory sleep and it’s not looking like changing anytime in the short-medium term. The effect of a bad night’s sleep is a groggy, under-productive following day. That’s fine in the exception, but after such a long period of feeling fatigued I’m starting to feel cross much more than I want to for a happy lifestyle, and I’m feeling increasingly numb to many things.

I’d take quality over quantity with regard to sleep, but I’m getting neither. While my desire to achieve doesn’t wane, my ability to do so, and to do so well, is vastly reduced due to lack of decent rest and recovery.

athens-street-art-child-with-bottle
Time

I have very little time to achieve. I read many interesting and motivating articles on how people make their success and achieve while still working in a job, but I’m struggling to find where I sit on the excuses vs. no excuses axis. I’m aware that I do use excuses for things, but I’m also acutely aware that I need quality sleep to be able to use non-traditional time periods e.g. 11pm-2am. I could probably get away with far less than the 7.5hrs I used to count on regularly, but there’s never any guarantee that I’ll get even 5 hrs of quality sleep. If I could ensure that, then staying up late not only makes some more sense, but it becomes a whole lot more doable.

The nights I do stay up late working on my own projects, I’m pretty useless the next day. So then Jo has to take up the slack, meaning she’s broken the following day and so the cycle goes on. It’s relentless and it’s the relentlessness that’s the main problem and barrier to me achieving. So I’m at a loss as to where to find the time to achieve.

Money

I’m not obsessed with money. Well, not normally. Except I’ve been living in such an abnormal financial state for the last 6 years that obsessing about money (or the lack of it), has become engrained. This isn’t how I hoped it would turn out, but it’s where I’m at just now.

Why is this a factor, though? Well, the lack of money means we’re not in a position to get any childcare in the evenings/weekends or on non-nursery days. The option to have this could allow us to free up a bit of time for both of us, meaning it might just allow us enough time to recharge batteries, or get some more things done towards achieving.
The scenario of having no safety net, no future provision is a bit like standing on a trap door; you know it could go at any moment, but you’ve no idea when, so all your energy is fixated on getting off it before it falls from under you.

The stress of this is huge. It’s mainly subconscious, but I often find the gravity and enormity of the situation threatening to engulf me. It can happen when lying in bed trying to get to sleep (11pm and between 3-4am are the most prolific times), or it can happen when standing on the Subway. In this situation my mind will be busy thinking about something unrelated, when suddenly the multiple aspects of my finances flood in and my world collapses like a pack of cards. Each time I have to fight to push it back. It’s a battle.

athens-may-2009-526

Help

The help we get is minimal. Well, it is and it isn’t. Jo’s parents are incredibly helpful and supportive. If anything, they want to help too much! Yet, they are 3 hours away, so while coming up for a weekend or supporting us to do a race works well, it’s not feasible, or reasonable, to ask them to pop up for an evening or a couple of hours during the day.

My parents, however, don’t meet my expectations in terms of help and support. They are about 1.5 hours away, so it’s still not that convenient to ask them to cover a couple of hours at short notice, but, equally, they are very not very forthcoming in expressing offers of help. There are a number of examples where their expectations of helping have been misaligned with ours, resulting in great frustration on my part.

I guess they provide the help and support that they each feel they can. I appreciate that and I’m trying to accept that, but I can’t help but expect more. This is probably more a failing on my part than theirs, but I struggle to reconcile the level of support they provide with what I expect of grandparents.

This all feeds into the wider issues I have with my parents (my posts on this subject are currently still in the Drafts folder), which probably exacerbates this situation, making me more sensitive than I otherwise would be.

Goals

I have yet to write my 2017 Manifesto. No, never mind write it, I’ve still to find enough time and headspace to create it. There’s a lot in there. Too much, in fact, which is why it’s stressing me out and why I need to get it made clearer and simpler sooner rather than later. My mind is currently too distracted with ideas and not enough focus. I need to write them to fix them as goals.

Where does this leave me?

I’m not sure of the answer to this. Much of the above is not likely to change in the short-term, so perhaps I need to amend my thinking.

Maybe I shouldn’t be trying to achieve new things right now? If I didn’t, our situation would definitely not change any time soon, but perhaps it might cut me some slack? It might help me to feel less pressure.athens-street-art-philosophy

Equally, I am who I am. I want to create things and I want to make them a success and I’m not very good at being patient about it. So if I just stopped trying to achieve for the next few years would I actually be being authentic to me? Would I be happy by not being ‘authentic me’? I doubt it. Looking for new opportunities, creating new ideas has always been a part of who I am.

But right now I feel like I’m failing. I’m failing to give enough attention to what’s happening right now in my life by keeping looking forward. Equally, I feel like I’m failing because precious few of the ideas I want to create come to fruition. I can’t always be failing, but I feel like I am.

All images are ©ryanjohnscott and were taken on the streets of Athens.

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