When I think of life as an adult nowadays, I envision the meme everyone uses when the New Year approaches. It’s the one with the woman/man going up the steps carrying baggage. Of course, the baggage appears to represent things that we all want to leave behind us in the New Year. But the picture comes to MY mind when I think of what it’s like to be an adult and having to carry the weight of your responsibilities such as managing a family, career, good health, a relationship with God, BILLS (My God BILLS!) and if you are lucky a love life as well. After a while, trying to carry all those different things, especially by yourself, gets HEAVY.
But for many of us, we keep pushing and we keep going because there are people that depend on us, you know. Maybe it’s your parents who are up in age and need you to care for them, or siblings that need to borrow money (regularly), your kids who need a roof over their head and food to eat or friends who call to talk and pour their concerns out to you regularly. And when it comes to the people we love; we do what we must do without question!
But can I be honest with you…I…am…tired. My mental capacity is so stretched that it is simultaneously draining my physical energy no matter how much I exercise and how healthy(ish) I eat. I have realized that I have subconsciously created my on stress and anxiety from within my mind by carrying the weight of trying to be everything to everyone- kids, friends, relatives, coworkers, you name it. At some point I developed this perception (or maybe it just comes with being a female) that I must be the superwoman- the person that supports, nurtures, teaches and holds everything together. I am the nucleus! And you know what that means – I have no room to fail.
But truth of the matter is, I have, and I will continue to make mistakes because I am not “Perfect Patty.” Heck, I woke up this morning moody as hell! Seriously. I’ve awakened out of bed plenty of times from 8 full hours asleep, still exhausted and feeling “blah.” These are the very days everything seems to go wrong, everything makes me tear up and throw a pity party, everyone needs me, and I just want to stand on a chair and scream to the top of my lungs STTOPPPPPPPP!!! Time-out! I need a do-over PUH-LEASE!
I walk around with a gloom inside that makes me feel empty, void and useless. But in true fashion, I wear a toothy smile as my prerequisite for those passing to assume everything’s good. The smile I have learned too well because it has gotten me out of the awkward question from others asking if I am okay. And deep down, I am not ready to answer that question because I know my heart will take over my mouth and I will either lash out or runaway hysterically trying to find the nearest exit.
Quite frankly, I just don’t want to be “that woman” in public who has blown her fuse, lost her cool, and completely made herself out to be ballistic. We already know society has never given women any room for error. We always must be on our P’s and Q’s, and that’s because we WON’T receive any credit for it either. But the moment we slip up, the world will always remember…So what now?
Paul Lawrence Dunbar said it best, “We wear the mask that grins and lies, it hides our cheeks and shades our eyes.” And no matter how heavy my emotionally dead weight becomes; I continue to hold it in and the more I do the sicker I feel. The more I draw away from others, the lonelier I am and begin to deem myself an oddity amongst other women.
“Surely, I am the ONLY person that feels this way,” I say to my close sorority sister who I finally decide to confide in about my constant distress. She laughs, looks at me in total disbelief and responds, “absolutely NOT.” The fact that I had failed to look to fellow mentors, mothers and other women for guidance this long, showed my overwhelming ego and refusal to be honest and truthful with myself. I THOUGHT I was exhibiting a selfless spirit for wanting to help everyone else, when in fact I was being very prideful assuming that I could do it all solely on my own.
In case you didn’t already know, there is power in women coming together to help one another understanding that we are in fact, not on this journey alone. Each of us, many, have the same story just in different variations, which means there is a great opportunity to learn from one another.
As I move forward in this life, I personally challenge myself to utilize the resources God has given me when I need help and I now know that I don’t have to carry the weight on my own!
Reaching out to friends, family, mentors or even therapists is the first step to rediscovering your HAPPY when you find yourself in a constant sentimental mood.