It has been a surprisingly productive week for me but for some reason, I still feel like I’m behind. It doesn’t matter why, but this is about the time every single year where I feel like I’m behind on everything (it happens other times during the year, but this is when it hits the most). It’s discouraging to feel like you’re constantly catching up on things, but I’ve learned to manage these feelings in a way that helps me, not hurts me. And that starts by admitting that in my game of catch up, I’m never going to win.
It’s important to say we can’t talk about this feeling of being ‘behind’ without mentioning the word perfectionism. The drive for perfectionism is nothing new, but in the digital age has shaped that drive into a different beast entirely. We’re easier to reach and the things we want to do are easier to access than ever before – that should make life easier, right? But as we’ve learned, it doesn’t.
I won’t dive too deeply into perfectionism today (that’s a whole other topic to explore), but I do want to talk about how this drive to do as much as possible can lead us to being less productive. And when I talk about being productive, I don’t just mean succeeding at work, school or your favorite activities. I mean just being productive at being a person and being as healthy as you can be – mentally, physically, emotionally, etc.
So back to me feeling like I’m behind on things. It’s everywhere – work, hobbies, personal relationships. Honestly, it feels like I’m behind on life sometimes! I’m constantly catching up with what I have going on in my life, and I have a nagging feeling in the back of my head that I know I’ll never fully catch up. But the question I forget to ask myself so often is, what am I catching up to?
When I think about it, my mental health plays a massive role in this make-believe game of catch up that I play. I want to erase the nervous feeling I live with every single day, the negative thoughts that I’ll never accomplish anything. By trying to accomplish as much as humanly possible, I’ve built this idea that I’m spitting in the face of my mental illness that says I won’t get anything done. But in the process, I’m hurting myself in other areas.
I’m not sure where I’ll go from here – at this point, it feels like recognizing this tendency in myself is accomplishment enough. But I hope recognition will lead to change in this area, and I can start to be more comfortable with the fact that sometimes, I just need to rest. Not only is that okay, it’s important – actually, it’s necessary – for my mental health. And it is for yours, too.