I sometimes wonder how I did it all. More often, I wonder what “doing it all” actually means.
I was once climbing the nonprofit management ladder at a decent pace. I constantly thought about what I could do next; how to grow and fund the programs I imagined, created, implemented, and managed; how to advance my career; how to be the best.
In my home life, I sought the “dream”; happily married queer life. I imagined investing in my wife’s house, fixing it up, and living in it for a long while. I imagined holidays-domestic and abroad. We created a “where to visit” bucket list. We joked about being a “guppy” couple- sharing outings with friends down Cape or down Maine, but always with a Starbucks.
And then “doing it all” broke. I broke. I find myself wondering if I will ever be able to “do it all” again, and what that phrase will mean for me in the future.
Today, doing it all means managing to go to work five days a week. It is getting up early enough to drink coffee at home in the morning and take the dog outside. It is feeding myself and exercising regularly- not out of a desire for fitness nor looks but for pure mental health needs. It is paying my bills on time. It is eating cake when necessary so that I don’t pick up a drink. It is going to bed early. It is crying when I need to, and it is learning how to stop crying.
Doing it all today feels so much more difficult than doing it all five years ago. And yet, my accomplishment seems smaller because it is less socially recognizable.
I don’t know where I am headed. I know that I am turning down opportunities left and right for a chance to stay in the present. I am not teaching. I am not taking a DrPH class. I am not training for a couch to 5K. I am not trying to bike 30 miles. I am trying to do the best I can with what I have in the most balanced way possible.
Most days, in community and at work, I feel like I am putting on a mask. I am trying to look like the person who knows where she’s going. I am trying to look like the self-assured professional. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it’s questionable. But I cannot speak of this doing-undoing to them. I cannot speak of depression and trauma. I can only go to work and work behind my mask; a porcelain construct of a girl who’s “doing it all”.
Then I come here, and for better or worse I write about what’s going on. For worse because this is the Internet and G-d knows my honesty will catch up with me- likely when I know what I am doing and ready to land the perfect job. For better because without writing I am lost. Through writing I learn to listen, accept, forgive and celebrate myself. And, even though I don’t know if anyone is out there, through writing I feel community.
If I could live my life in pajamas, sober, baking with coffee or seltzer in hand, swimming regularly, and writing in this nether sphere, I would. I don’t know how to make that happen. It’s not in my present “doing it all” plan but, perhaps, in the future my reality will look something along those simple, complex lines.
PS- The “featured image” is a most hilarious picture-book. Everyone must own it.