I Can’t Keep Up

I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.

–John Burroughs

 

There was a time in my twenties & thirties when I did all the planning with my friends, when I sent birthday cards, and called to catch up. No more. As a working mom, trying spend time with my family, write on a semi regular basis, workout, and keep up with the day to day, I no longer have the mental dexterity to juggle anything else.

When Facebook came on the scene, I was able to be in touch with friends from around the world. My elementary school classmates created a Facebook page and eventually had a kickball reunion. It was nostalgic and great fun. And, it’s been terrific to connect to old friends, new acquaintances and others. On the advice of those supposedly in the know, I now have a twitter account, a Tumblr account and I signed up for Pinterest even though I’m not much of a photographer. I have a Linked-In account, though I’m not looking for a job, happy with my private practice as a psychotherapist.

All this seemed like a good idea at the time. Now, it’s just too much. I see the birthday reminders and the daily posts that I save, but never get to. It feels as if I’m rejecting people on five or more platforms. I just can’t keep up. The requests, good ideas, the reading, the blogs, and everything else that overloads my inbox are reminders of how behind I am.  The mixed messages we get about the importance of self-esteem are sabotaged by the daily experience of not being enough. Always having something that we haven’t read, seen or known leaves us wanting. And, although there will always be things we never get to, the trick is to find a way to find peace with that fact. Hopefully I’m finding peace by writing about it. Other ways are to be engaged in what we do at any given moment, so that we are not filled with anxiety over what we have to get to. Namely, living in the future.

But, enough about that. I’ve got to go now. I have to look at the emails, texts and phone calls I won’t be able to answer. If you read this, kudos. If not, who can blame you? Chances are you’re doing something else.

 

 

A Culture of Tattletalers

“Mommeeeee!” My sister, Susan yells from our bedroom.  “Janet pulled my hair.”  I hated when Susan tattled on me.  Technically she was right, I did pull her hair, but she fails to share the details of the said pulling.  We were playing beauty parlor, brushing each other’s curls, pretending to style, paint nails and put on lipstick.   Anytime we brush hair we pull it.  In the1960s we knew of no brushes or combs designed for anything but straight, fine hair.  So, putting a brush to Susan’s hair by definition meant I was pulling it.  Susan was a pro when it came to telling on me.  I hated when she did that, because it meant that I would lose another good girl moment to Susan. I would get in trouble even though I meant no harm.  I was six at the time to Susan’s four.

 Now, as an adult, I see similar behavior all the time.  People act as if they’re four years old tattling on a sibling who accidentally wronged them.  The poor reviews online often seem personal.  The writer wants revenge.  They didn’t like something and they want to get back at the merchant, the server, the service person.  Sometimes I fantasize about getting back at someone.  I remember the contractor who almost completed our bathroom.  I was angry and thought of going online to write a bad review.  Instead I reached out to him, told him how disappointed I was and that I could not recommend him.  He came back and begrudgingly finished the job.  He’s not someone I’ll use again, but I felt good about communicating honestly with him.  Last year, I went to a nice restaurant and received mediocre service.  I mentioned something to the server.  He tried harder, though I doubt he’ll ever be a great server.  Nonetheless, it was not personal.   He just isn’t talented as a server.  I don’t always like speaking up for myself, but it feels better than going behind someone’s back to get revenge.  If I don’t speak up then the incident or person stays in my mind.  By saying something to them directly, there’s a better chance I can let it go.

This goes on in workplaces, too.  No one wants to speak directly to the person who is causing problems.  We go to supervisors, gossip with co-workers, or act out when around the possible offender.  We may not always like something, but work and life might be more pleasant if we could communicate to one another about what we don’t like.  I can complain with the best of them, but do I really need to get a virtual stranger in trouble?  Sometimes I want to, but then I think of Susan, and remember I was not a happy recipient of her tattling.  No need to perpetuate childish behavior.  Or, maybe I prefer my righteousness to being a tattletale.  Even so,  if we all could have the courage to talk to those who upset us, we may experience the possibility of repair.