In what way do you spread yourself too thin?
I’ve gotten a lot better about spreading myself too thin these last few years. I suppose the biggest way I could treat myself better now would be to get more sleep. I spread myself thin by not giving myself enough time to work on my writing, or underestimating how long it will take to actually write the story I want to write, and I rarely get to bed before midnight. I get up for work a little before 6 so if I don’t fall asleep as soon as I go to bed, I’m usually looking at five and a half hours of sleep. It is 100% self-inflicted and unlikely I will change. If I’m not writing, I’m reading or watching dumb videos on my phone, so I’m still not going to sleep before midnight.
When I was younger, I was very much a people pleaser. I never wanted anyone to be upset with me for anything so I would do whatever I needed to please as many people as I could. Obviously, this was an impossible task. It resulted in me trying to be a support to too many people at once and often to the detriment of my own well-being.
At work, this translated into never saying “no” to an extra shift or a last-minute task. It meant taking on the burdens for my coworkers so they could take time off for whatever the excuse of the week happened to be. Sometimes the reasons were valid, honestly more often than not, but sometimes they just didn’t want to work. I fell into the mental trap of “if I don’t help, no one else will” and would step up every time. I was a broke college kid; I could always use the extra cash.
The problem with being a reliable employee is that it becomes expected of you to give more than you are required. If you can’t cover your coworker’s shift so they can go to their third cousin’s brother-in-law’s niece’s quinceañera because you have to tend to your dying grandfather, they guilt trip you for it. They gaslight. And sometimes you give in. After all, you’ve got bills to pay and you’d like to eat something more substantive than ramen and blue box mac’n’cheese. But your time is not your own anymore. It belongs to everyone else.
I don’t do that anymore. In dire scenarios, I will stay late to help finish up a task. But if I’ve finished my work for the day and my 8 hours are done, you cannot keep me against my will. I’ve learned to value my personal time higher than my company values my time. There are other things I want to do with my time and at the end of the day, I will not hesitate to be selfish and do what I want with it.
Another way I used to spread myself thin was by always listening to people when they had problems. Part of it was a genuine desire to be helpful, part of it was just being polite and allowing the other person to vent. They would rant and cry and drop all their emotional baggage at my feet. For a long time, I didn’t know what to do with them. So I would take them along and stuff them in a closet somewhere. It took me years to realize I could just leave the baggage on the floor between us and move on just as quickly as they had. I didn’t have to clean up after them.
Maybe it’s just part of getting older—I turn 30 next week, after all—but I just don’t have as many f*cks left to give. Aside from depriving myself of sleep so I can write, I won’t spread myself thin anymore. And speaking of sleep and being tired, I am going to try to get to sleep before midnight for once. Have a great night! See you tomorrow!
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