WOAH GUYS. It’s been a minute. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a die hard Pisces, or because I am right up there with at least ½ of the Kardashian Fam in terms of my extra-ness, but 2017 has been a “roller coaster of emotion” (taken directly from my journal on Jan 24 2017… 24 days into the New Year).
Four months into the year and this is the first Friday that I’ve had off since moving to Portland in July. When I got here, I immediately got a job and started working full time until grad school started. In September 2016, I was enrolled in 4 classes, working 3 8-hour shifts a week, seeing 2 patients every other day, and had ~1 friend.
Whenever it came time for me to explain the details of my schedule to a friend and/or loser from Bumble with whom I was in a meaningless conversation with, I’d lift my shoulders in pride and go on a 2 minute rant about how busy I was, always ending with “yeah, I’m stressed… but I still have time to binge my favorite Netflix shows so I feel like I’m doin pretty well!”
I was not doing well. LOL. I WAS NOT DOING WELL. But, how would I even have the TIME to know that I wasn’t doing well? I was too busy to take a step back, lift my head up, and recognize that I had spread myself thinner than a bowl of overcooked custard (Great British Baking Show, anyone?!). Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry would’ve been SO disappointed in the person I had let myself become.
In all honesty, this winter has been difficult. I thought the whole ~PNW grey/rainy vibeEeeE~ was going to be *so me* - Ha. Ha. Ha. I am no longer ashamed to tell you that I am a California girl, through and through. Actually, every time I listen to the song California Girls by The Beach Boys, I weep (again… not sure if this is a Pisces thing or a drama queen thing, but the song is just so. beautiful.).
I’m not going to go on a rant about how this weather is literally the devil incarnate – but, it is. And it’s no way for a person to live for months on end. And that’s how I feel. And I’m sorry if you’re from the northwest. Actually, I’m not sorry. Move to California. Don’t look back.
I hit my bi-annual rock bottom in late February. Let me paint you a picture. It was Saturday night at 11pm, and after a 60 hour week of school, 20 hour week of work with another 8 hour shift to go and NO SIGN of the sun in sight for another month, I was feeling bummed, so I decided to meal prep (like any normal bummed out 24 year old would do…)
Almost done, I jumped in and out of the shower, went to check on my stir fry, and realized that I had accidentally cooked a plastic cap into the next 5 meals worth of lunch :)))))) I bet you can guess what happened next… I collapsed, naked, onto my kitchen floor filled with crumbs, and started to cry. Oh, you didn’t guess that? I told you guys I was dramatic.
It was at this point when I realized that I was doing TOO MUCH. My solution? Drop out of school. I called my mom first to give her the news. This was a grave mistake. Calling my JEWISH MOTHER at 11PM CRYING. I was amazed that there weren’t helicopters circling my apartment within two seconds of her phone ringing.
Turns out she was in the middle of watching “Manchester By The Sea” with her boyfriend, making my one woman show her last priority. Going into detail of the two hour phone call would be really painful and embarrassing for us all, so here’s a few quotes to sum up the conversation:
“HERE I AM, LYING NAKED ON THE GROUND LIKE MY DEAD ANCESTORS BEFORE ME IN THEIR GRAVES.” -“what the hell are you talking about Olivia??”
“how did I get HERE mom?!” -“you let yourself drop to your dirty-ass kitchen tile which I am sure hasn’t been vaccumed in weeks. That’s how you got there”
“i’m dropping out of school. It’s the only way to rid me of my MISERY” -“no, it’s not”
“HOW do I fix this pain inside my HEART? This stress within my BODY???” -“go to yoga. align your chakras.”
After I let myself calm down, I went to bed. SLEEP CURES ALL. I woke up and journaled before work, coming to the conclusion that the only way to relieve stress in my life would be to let go of some of my obligations. I felt ashamed by that fact. I didn’t want to talk to people about what I wasn’t doing, and god FORBID I’d have to change my Bumble bio which so eloquently stated what a woman-boss I am.
I began to assess why I felt this way. Why, even the mere thought of making pragmatic and necessary changes to ultimately live a better life made me feel like shit. I soon realized that throughout my entire existence I’ve been surrounded by a society who looks highly upon a busy and tight schedule, and I’ve been constantly pressured to take on more. More extracurriculars. Harder classes. Better jobs. Cooler adventures.
What I found through my research was that being “overwhelmed” has become a trend for our society as a whole, especially millennials – we have become robots, programed to take on anything and everything that comes our way. In her 2014 book, Brigid Schulte writes: “So much do we value busyness, researchers have found a human ‘aversion’ to idleness and need for ‘justifiable busyness.”
When I took my schedule to a pad of paper and wrote down everything I was involved in, I asked myself to circle each activity that I was doing either our of necessity and/or happiness. Out of the 11 obligations I had on my plate at the time, I circled FOUR. There were FOUR things that I took part in on a weekly basis that I actually did for my own livelihood, happiness, and future combined. The rest of my activities existed to either “boost my resume” (I can bet you no future employer in the medical field will give two shits that I walked a 4 pound dog named Maxine around the block 3 times a week. or because I felt bad saying "no".
Like I mentioned before, my schedule made me look like a “girl boss” on Bumble and in real life conversations; I felt like I had to work/do/play three times as hard to justify my boss-ness. What I have since realized is that we are all bosses, regardless of how much we do or don’t do. What makes me a boss is the fact that I was able to recognize that I was taking on too much, and had the confidence to let go of what didn’t serve me. A year ago, I wouldn’t have been able to handle the judgment from my parents, friends, boyfriend, etc. Today, I do what I need to do for ME.
That afternoon, I put in my two-weeks notice at work, officially ended a relationship in limbo, quit my Instructional Assistant job at school, demoted myself as Lab Manager, and took Maxine on her last walk around the block.
I have since decided to take more days off the treadmill and to add more days of low-intensity exercise to my workout schedule, to call more friends who I haven’t REALLY spoken to in months, and to let myself get a B this semester.
This week, I ate pizza and ice cream at 3pm in the afternoon on a Wednesday. I got completely naked at Mt. Tabor and tanned on a grassy hill because the sun came out for a few hours. I spent $7 to enter a blooming Chinese garden and drink tea with a friend on a Thursday morning. Today, I am sitting in a coffee shop at 3pm in the afternoon on a Friday (!!!!!) before taking a yoga class, writing to all of you.
I just got off of the phone with both of my parents, who love me just as much as they did when I was a chicken with my head cut off. I know that life is bound to get busier as the semester continues, but for now, I am unsure of what I am going to do tomorrow – and THAT makes me feel like a total boss.
P.S. If you're feeling overwhelmed, I suggest writing down your obligations on a piece of paper, and prioritizing 3-5 of them, depending on necessity and happiness. Let yourself be okay with not pleasing everyone; the most important word i've learned this year is the word "no".
I want to clarify that this blog post isn't a suggestion that you all quit what isn't making you supremely happy. While millennials are obsessed with busyness, we are also obsessed with social media, and the way that others make their lives look on instagram. I would be lying if I told you I hadn't thought about dropping everything and moving to Bali to teach yoga and live off of the land (loling thinking about how long that would actually last - first sign of a spider and i'm effing OUT), but that's not how I was raised. I was raised by immigrant parents who taught me that a good life comes from hard work, and because of that moral, I have chosen a profession that simultaneously kicks my ass and allows me to give back to society - I am grateful for that choice.
Because I am not a Kardashian and do need a way to buy all of the insanely expensive #organic food that I post about (pay rent/gas/live), I have since picked up a yoga job three times a week at an incredible Holistic Wellness Studio in Portland called Root Whole Body in NE Portland. Now, I can live up to my bio on instagram of being both a Graduate Student and Yoga Teacher, and not 100 other things in between. Schedule will be posted soon!
 Schulte, Brigid. Overwhelmed. Toronto: Harpercollins Canada, 2015. Print.
pictures chronicling my first week of being a graduate student without 600 other titles