Spread Too Thin

Question To Self: What time do you have in your schedule to rest?

Answer: 4 hours a night.

This was my allotted shut-eye time during college in the last year.

Before focusing on self-care, I was spread thinner than a tablespoon of peanut butter on a Hash House a Go Go pancake.

hash house a go go

Positive Side Note: I ate this. Guys. It’s the size of a pizza.

I volunteered monthly for the Red Cross, was the Vice President of Scholarship for my Phi Theta Kappa chapter, worked in the Environmental Center at Portland Community College (PCC), had a hourly job as a dietary aide, and was The Green Initiative Fund Southeast Representative for PCC. Etc., etc.

The responsibilities continued. I wasn’t giving myself the time of day for self-care. I was slipping beneath the surface. I wanted to breathe again, but I couldn’t stop myself from saying no to new opportunities. I was drifting away from my social circle and my bed. I was drowning on a perfectly dry patch of land. I needed help, but disliked asking. I thought I could have it all. But really, it was wave after wave of responsibility.


Being busy has always been important to me. When I was little, I actually dreamed about the day that I would have to write important papers and draft reports. As a 6-year-old, I loved having an excuse to write and stay busy. When I got older, the reality was harder to shoulder.

In college, I also happened to be surrounded by these awe-inspiring people who  excelled in project management and networking. They were students too…just like me. I felt like my actions weren’t reaching far enough and I needed to better impress. Who was I impressing though? Myself?

Based on what I experienced, I feel certain in one respect; Juggling and time management has become a symbol of status.

It seems that the busier you are in the American individualistic culture, the more successful you’re perceived. I mean, how can you be successful if you spend your day doing any one thing, or working at any one job? To be rich, powerful, and knowledgable, sleep should be at the bottom of your list. Naps? You can’t even.

This is what I thought.

I found that the things that I achieved in the past came with a buttload of stress that overshadowed everything I did. It was like walking with this raincloud on my head. I knew I was in a funk. Lacking in sleep, I think my body was aging faster on some cellular level I couldn’t consciously perceive. The late night snacking became more than just an occasional weekend splurge. It was a personal tactic to keep me from falling asleep. If I was making macaroni and cheese, I couldn’t go to bed and leave it to burn the house down. Plug in my computer and set up my station on the kitchen counter and I was stuck on wide-awake mode. Cheesy noodles included.

The pressure to study, email, write, calculate, and finish everything by the required deadlines sapped me. Burnout was real, and I was scorched by the end of the last academic year.

And if you can believe it, I was working with my Phi Theta Kappa chapter on a project that centered on self-care. Ironic stuff, right?

If there’s a few things that have changed in the last few months, it’s my habits. I say N-O to projects that I can pass on. I ask for help. I delegate with reason. I’ve sacrificed my morning to-do list to the Sleep-In gods. My alarm clock snoozes a bit more. My food stays fully clothed in the cabinets at 4 in the morning. And I take the self-care I can carry. Sure, I might not be busy enough for smoke to spout from my ears, but it allows me to live by a better mantra. You’ve heard it before. You know it. And maybe you can learn from my prior habits and make it work for you.

Quality over quantity.

While I might have to argue the pros and cons as this idea applies to peanut butter and pancakes, I will say that it does apply to a person’s workload. Being busy doesn’t equal success.

Quality over quantity.

Trust me. People notice the difference.


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