The first weeks of mountaineering school were hard. Like, really hard.
Work + personal + mountaineering class obligations all joined forces to make the first 4 weeks of class hell for me, emotionally. I was over-commited, under-rested and completely exhausted.
It all culminated one Thursday night, after a particularly busy week when I came home for the fourth day in a row at 10:30 p.m.; I got into the shower, sat down and sobbed. I felt like I was drowning (figuratively, of course). Like I was failing at everything. Like I couldn’t get a handle on anything. Like I was half-assing work, doing the bare minimum for class and being a terrible friend and even worse wife. It didn’t feel great.
I’m a compulsive over-scheduler. I have friends in different circle and varied interests – and I want to see them all! I don’t want people to feel left out or that I don’t want to spend time with them…so I try to fit everything in. I know many of us do this – I’m not unique in this aspect.
But I’m an introvert. I love people and really enjoy being social but I desperately need down time, alone time, to recharge. Without mountaineering class, I can operate on a crazy schedule because I give myself some time on the weekend to lay low. But mountaineering class took my down time away as I spent Friday nights packing for Saturday’s full day event. On Saturday nights, I would eat and sleep; on Sundays, I would read 100+ pages for class on Monday. On repeat.
I was frustrated, irritable and tired. Those weeks were a real treat to live with me, let me tell you.
But after that much-needed cry, I realized that I’m not a passive player in this situation. I can affect how I feel, what I do and how I choose to react to adversity in my life. I needed to take care of ME first if I wanted the remaining weeks to be any better.
In that moment, I changed my attitude. I stopped saying ‘YES!’ to everything and instead started focusing on what was best for me. I stopped worrying that I was letting my friends down by not meeting at 5:50 a.m. to run before work. I stopped RSVPing for every fun activity that happened during the week. I stopped scheduling ANYTHING on Sundays.
It was hard! Saying no to fun events and important friends is always hard. But the moment I decided to take ownership for my situation and feelings and do what I needed to do to get myself right, lightness returned. The drowning went away and I was breathing deeply again.
We try so hard to be all things to all people at all times – to be the best spouse, friend, employee, student, blogger, social media personality, etc, etc, etc. In the chaos of trying to do everything, I forgot to take time to do nothing and take care of me. I can’t be the best anything if I’m not talking care of me first. I can’t even be a mediocre anything!
As trivial and trite as it is, mountaineering class forced me to take a step back, take care of myself and truly prioritize my time. I hope that I keep this mentality close as class requirements start to ease and I can easily fall back in to cramming my schedule. It’s okay to say no sometimes. The friends and fun invitations will still be there.
tl;dr – sometimes, crying in the shower brings wonderful epiphanies and makes life a lot better.
As an aside: I do realize this was only a relatively short segment of my life. People deal with these feelings and schedules for far longer than that – my hat is off to you, seriously. In the thick of it, I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. In the thick of it, those weeks felt like an unending eternity from which I couldn’t escape. I know this won’t be the first time I’ll feel this way but I’m glad I’m learning how to take control of my feelings and take care of me first.