My routine is probably familiar to you:
Get home from work.
Kick off shoes. Eat
a snack accidentally a full meal before my run.
Collapse on couch with book. Fall asleep.
Wake up. Groan. Get in crappy run.
Go to bed late.
Wake up. Drink all the coffee. Repeat.
This is a routine of never enough. Never enough sleep, time and energy. This was a fatigue that was beyond sleep or rest. It was the kind of fatigue that’s in your soul.
But I kept looking for all the physical reasons why I felt like this. Getting enough sleep was no help. Laying on the couch was not restful. Eating nutritious foods didn’t make a difference, and eating scones and ice cream didn’t make me feel any worse. My ferritin levels were in a healthy range. My doctor says I’m incredibly healthy.
My introversion certainly contributes to my fatigue. Being in an open-space workplace with many noises and scanners and people is tiring for me because of the way we introverted folks process information. An open space with a lot going on is too much information for our brains (a shopping mall is a nightmare).
Anyway, I’ve been so sick of it all. You can probably tell from past blog posts that I’ve been sick and tired. During my recent spiritual walk through a demon-filled forest (aka heartbreak), I realized something: I was giving away all my energy.
Imagine you’re standing in the shuttle bay of a starship (Star Trek metaphors for the win!). You have your back to the external doors. What you don’t see is the doors are open and your energy is being blown out into the vacuum of space. No wonder you don’t have any! The vacuum of space is going to take everything you can give it.
Somewhere as I was rumbling with a lot of stuff, it hit me. I turned around and realized those doors were open. I had to shut them in order to preserve my energy.
The vacuum of space for me is anxiety. Anxiety about my job, training for a marathon, relationships, being my best self and living my best life. Seriously, in so much of my life I have to stop and ask myself “am I living deeply enough?” that I stop living deeply and have an existential crisis. It’s a wreck. Anxiety takes everything I could give it, and I was blind to the extent of which I was leaching energy.
There’s also shame in this lack of energy. I see people training for huge races and doing all the things. I know it’s social media, and I know everyone struggles, but I can’t help but feel a little shame. I’m not training that much. My tempo runs aren’t that fast. If I had more energy, my training and my life would be better.
Never enough. Not enough. ENOUGH!
Brené Brown says to keep your shadow in front of you. I missed part of it. When I don’t watch my anxiety, it grows into some great monster I can hardly control. As Mad-Eye Moody would say, “CONSTANT VIGILANCE!”
The question becomes: What do I need to do to close the shuttle bay doors?
I need real stillness, not the fake laying on my couch mindlessly scrolling through twitter kind of stillness. I need a clean, relaxing space without these visual reminders of what chores I to do. I need to create a work environment in the job I have that satisfies my introvert self, which means carving out space in my day to go to a quiet corner and work. I need to spend less time on social media. I need to stop comparison, that great thief of joy. I need to write to patch and heal my soul, and write to keep it whole. I need to stop worrying about not having enough time and energy because that worry is simply wasting the time and energy I’m looking for. I need to trust myself that I will live and full and deep life, and instead of constantly worrying, just regularly check in to see how it’s going. I need to be kind to myself because I am doing the best I can.
I’ve had a three-day weekend, and I’ve spent it in quiet or with a Spotify playlist called “Relaxing Piano” playing in the background. My tasks: cleaning and tidying my apartment, running errands I’ve put off, reading, writing and sleeping. I’ve been neither happy nor sad, but I am here in the moment. This stillness is the peaceful environment I needed. I finished my 16-mile run today with energy to spare, and feel great afterward.
The key to having enough energy, I have learned, is to watch where it’s going and then setting the proper boundaries and creating the environment for energy to thrive. It’s looking at your life and saying, “I have everything I need.” Because you do.