I had the week from hell last week, and here’s the rub of it:
I did it to myself.
Nothing was out of my control; nothing went disastrously wrong.
I didn’t oversleep or overflow the coffee maker or lock my keys in my trunk or have my lunch blow up in the microwave or break a glass bowl or drop a bottle of soda causing an explosion.
(Four of the above things DID happen to my dad last week, by the way, all in the SAME DAY.)
Instead, I sent myself into stress central by worrying, non-stop, about things I couldn’t yet decide.
See, it was stressful, last year, to make the decision to take time off from my teaching career. In fact, that stress, combined with working two jobs and going to grad school, is one of the primary reasons I believe my overeating issues began in the first place.
It is almost as stressful, now, to think about what I plan to do once my Nutrition degree is done.
Will I return to teaching? Will I find a way to practice nutrition coaching? Will I still be personal training? Will I turn this blog into something more financially fruitful? Will the sun come out tomorrow?
I was in such a ridiculous tizzy over these things last Tuesday that I couldn’t sleep that night. I spent the night on the couch, thinking too much, instead of getting the stress-relieving sleep I actually needed.
I didn’t feel all that much better on Wednesday, but I forced myself to think about other things instead. I worked out a little harder and longer than normal on Wednesday, and I had a busy client schedule Wednesday afternoon and evening to keep me sane.
By Thursday, I had decided that it was too much to think about all this right now; these decisions are not yet under my own control. I have things to accomplish RIGHT NOW — a degree to finish, clients to work with, and a life to live — that I should be focused on instead.
On Saturday, I started reading The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield, a book that’s technically about the artist (a writer) and how fear of being an artist (writer) cannot be allowed to get in the way of his work.
Pressfield calls this fear “Resistance,” as in our mind’s ability to actively resist a challenge because of our fear of the unknown outcome. The artist, for example, might resist pursuing his art out of fear — of failure, of lack of inspiration, of poor reviews, etc.
In fact, Pressfield says, the more we SHOULD pursue a calling, the more we will resist it:
“Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”
Hi — that’s exactly how I felt about the decision to take time off from my teaching career.
It was scary, it was daunting, it was risky — and it was all the more so precisely because I knew what was at stake for my life, for my soul, if I didn’t take that year off.
Pressfield reminded me why this time is necessary for me and what’s at stake for me in the process.
Last week, time seemed to be closing in on me — the high school year is now more than halfway done. First semester exams were last week. Second semester started this week. And my Nutrition degree will be 90% done in May. I felt, last week, like the end of this phase of my life was approaching faster than I had realized — and I felt immense pressure, like I should have my sh*t in order by now.
That pressure made me panic a little — how could I let the end of this phase get here without knowing what I was doing next? The uncertainty felt overwhelming.
Pressfield rescued me again:
“The danger is greatest when the finish line is in sight. At this point, Resistance knows we’re about to beat it. It hits the panic button. It marshals one last assault and slam us with everything it’s got.”
Was last week my panic button?
I suspect it was only the first of a few panic buttons.
I still, after all, have no effing clue what I will be doing 6 months from now, 9 months from now, one year from now.
But, for now, I’m OK with uncertainty.
I’ve got work to do. Those tasks need my focus more than the uncertainty does.
And I have a feeling that getting my work done will cure that uncertainty anyhow.