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On Exploding Schedules and Disappointments

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Photo by Karolina Grabowska

For some reason, my schedule this and next week has exploded. Instead of the usual full school-day to write and read, I get to run around the city from one incredible experience to the next. I have workshops and birthday celebrations, voice lessons and various appointments, and even a ballet exam (not me. My daughter. I haven't balleted since I was 9).

Here's what happened. At the beginning of the year, I wanted to explore more and go out more. In my head, this translated into saying yes more. Because going out and talking to people is difficult for an introvert, it's easier to say no. No, I can't go out next Wednesday night because Wednesdays are my volunteering days and I get home exhausted. No, I can't go to this workshop next month because we have a trip booked the week before and I may not have enough time to recuperate or unpack. No, I can't take this project because I already have two projects going on and when will I find the time?

An interesting thing happens when you need to be in lots of places at the same time. I have some friends who would miss or cancel appointments or meetings. Or space out things. But I'm too organised to miss and cancel, and I feel way to guilty to space out things. So I cancel my writing time. I cancel my reading time. I cancel my downtime. And I squeeze my schedule for all it's worth. That ten minutes appointment suddenly became a ten minutes appointment rather than an hour or half-hour. It's usually a half-hour because I must arrive at every scheduled event ten minutes before it's schedule, and from that time I take a buffer for the commute (typically a rather long buffer). But this week and next week I have stuff scheduled with almost no buffer. And that makes me anxious. It makes me worried. I go over all the worst case scenarios in my head. Over and over again. Normal people are afraid to die. I don't mind dying, as long as it won't make me late for a meeting. As long as I don't disappoint people who depend on me. Or simply won't meet expectations.

I know. I'm working through it. But it takes energy and time. And I can only sustain this kind of pace probably for a couple of weeks. After that, it'll be too much for me to handle.

Before I understood what my pace needs to be for me to handle it, I was like this all the time. I had back to back classes, revising sessions, placements, volunteering commitments, family commitments, gym sessions. I also had migraines. Terrible, debilitating migraines. The kind of migraines that force you to cancel everything you have for the next two days and lie down in a dark room. I once ended up in the hospital getting a painkillers shot because I thought I could squeeze in one more studying session before going home and taking my pill. People were waiting for me.

Don't get me wrong. The pace I live in normally now is slow. It's way slower than what I could handle. When I was doing my PhD, I also had training and data collection sessions and lab meetings and classes I was teaching and children I needed to pick up from daycare. But I think I was spacing it a bit more than I did when I was younger. And I think I know better now to identify my limit. And besides, just because you could do something, doesn't mean you should.


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