You keep trying. You keep waking up earlier and earlier, hoping those extra 15 minutes will add up to hours. You keep trying to do mindless things at the same time—packing your backpack while letting your green smoothie blend while your tea water boils—hoping that it will lead to some larger, more meaningful vacancy in your schedule. Like all of a sudden, the 14 seconds you saved will lead to a meaningful quality of life improvement. Because 14 seconds a day is 85 minutes a year. And with that, you can read at least two New Yorker articles.
For you, it’s not time wasted scrolling through or consuming content. I mean, you do that. But that’s clearly an escape. And while you hate those things even as you do them, we both know that isn’t the real problem here.
The problem is that you’re misdirected. You can’t focus. And, no, it’s not ADHD. This isn’t an issue that can or should be medicated. It’s that you like too many things. You care in too many directions. You have time-consuming hobbies, and you don’t know how to say “no,” and you don’t like missing out on opportunities. You want every door and window open, but it’s loud out there and there’s a storm brewing and you’re going to blow the fuck away. You can see the dark clouds, right? You must feel the pressure dropping.
And so far, you’ve always been clever enough. No, that’s not a compliment. I knew you’d take it as one. And you need to stop. Because your unflappable confidence—again, not a compliment—means you think you’re invincible. Homegirl, no one is invincible. We’re all just dying at different speeds.
The problem is that you have an impossibly high tolerance for stress. Again, not a compliment. You see how it hurts you, don’t you? You see it pulling you apart, right? It’s right there, packed into the bags under your eyes, tied into the knots in your hair, drawn into the lines in your smile. Are you addicted to the stress? Could you let it go if you tried? Could you quit it any time you wanted?
The problem is that your identity is inextricably linked to the things you do. Your primary attributes are all noun-ish permutations of verbs: runner, writer, athlete, leader, editor. So, let me ask you something: If you stopped doing, would you stop being? You don’t know how to “just be,” do you?
The problem is your failure to recognize reality. You can’t do it all—at least not at the same damn time. You keep trying, and girl, I love you for how desperately you want to make it all work. But you can’t. We both know you can’t. You know this is a losing battle. You know one day it’s all going to break and crumble and fall down.
And there you’ll be, buried in the ruins, trying to figure out how you can turn the rubble and your trapped feelings into an art project.
The problem is that your greatest strengths are your greatest weaknesses. And no, not like in a job interview where you provide some carefully crafted spin to ensure that no one learns your fatal flaws before that first paycheck hits. What I’m saying is that the reasons you’re successful—your resilience, your bravery, your ingenuity—are the same reasons you’re fucking stuck.
You want to add a noun-ish descriptor to your arsenal? You’re a grinder. You don’t know how to stop. You can’t quit, even when you know you should. You just keep grinding. And it ain’t coffee beans feeding in the hopper, shorty. It’s your life. It’s yourself. It’s your time. It all goes into the machine. You’re using up all the raw materials and selling them at bulk rates.
Give it up. Let go. Choose something. Move on.
We both know you won’t. Because you only hold on to one adjective. It’s the one your mom called you. She was the only one who saw it through your blue-blue eyes and your goodie two-shoes. Through your teetotaling and apple-polishing. Through all your bullshit achievement.
Little bit, you are defiant. And my telling you to stop doing this to yourself anymore is the only reason you won’t.