I’ve been away for a while. I closed my computer and vowed never to look at this blog ever again. This blog, with its good intentions and cheery title was the beginning of my descent to unhappiness.
I can’t place the entire blame on ol’ Regular Pep Talk, in fact, RPT was probably just a bystander in my downward spiral. But its constant need to be filled with happy, go-get-em words was draining me and my psyche.
This blog was started as a reaction to a sudden ennui that had seeped into my brain last summer. I felt stuck, consumed in a never ending cycle of work, sleep, work, sleep, work. I appeased myself with the temporary pleasure of buying things with one click on Amazon and then forgetting about the purchase until it landed on my doorstep. I could not understand why I felt so dissatisfied. I knew that all that awaited me was a lifetime spent working, sleeping, working, sleeping, working – I wanted to break free.
Minimalism came to me like some sort of divine intervention. A Forbes article about Cait Flanders popped up as click bait on my Facebook feed and it was earth shattering. This girl, gave up buying stuff she didn’t need and it gave her the freedom to live the life she wanted to live. She destroyed her debt and began working for herself. I was inspired.
I also recalled some real adult tips and tricks a friend had given me during her visit the previous summer. Shop for groceries only once a week (I was in the habit of shopping 3-4 times a week, very Parisian, I thought at the time), use cash when possible, find a cheaper phone plan, you dum-dum.
Things started shaping up. I was finding ways to downsize, my bank account began to grow, yet I still felt that crushing ennui and it was growing stronger each day.
I started to consume myself in self help books and blogs trying to find that magic thing that would set my life on the right path.
I need to live more simply
I need to make more money
I need to consume every waking moment in being productive
I need to be rich now
I wanted to be a minimalist, but I also wanted to make a whole lot of money…fast. Those ideologies clashed hardcore. I began putting pressure on myself and this blog to turn my life around. Yet, every time I wrote I felt like crying. I was obsessed with receiving views. Being a baby newborn blog, I received virtually none.
At the same time we had some turn over at my job and I ended up taking on the responsibility of two people. My days which were typically balanced and calm, now were surrounded in a frantic panic. My modest to-do list skyrocketed to a multi-page affair over night.
Then, being the type A- personality that I am, I convinced myself that I had too much free time on my hands and needed to get a second job. Remember, I had to make a lot of money, fast! Otherwise, I would be the worlds biggest failure and I would be stuck in my never ending cycle of work, sleep, work, sleep, work. So, I became a real estate agent.
The more I added on my plate, the more the cycle exacerbated. Before I was figuratively working and sleeping, etc. After adding the second job and taking on a second person’s job in my first job (oh the web that was being weaved!), I literally was only working and sleeping (plus a little dinner thrown in there for sustenance).
I knew in the back of my brain that this was not sustainable. I knew I was going to break. But I had to prove it to myself that I could do it all. I was invincible. I was the besssssttttttt.
I hit bottom after returning from what should have been a relaxing vacation with my family in January. Instead, I spent the week responding to calls and emails from job #1 and taking hours upon hours of real estate classes. When I returned home, I was more stressed out than when I left. The weeks following the vacation were the worst. I couldn’t stop crying and I didn’t know why. I eventually broke down to my boyfriend explaining how overwhelmingly unhappy I was and I didn’t know how to fix it.
Step One: Stop the Busyness
I recognized I was stressed out, and it was probably because there was so much going on. I was not making time to unwind. I was setting up arbitrary challenges for myself everywhere I turned which only led to more complications and opportunities to fail. I began reading Be More With Less and really latched on to Courtney Carver’s ban on busyness. I quickly started taking things off my plate.
Job #2 had to go on the back burner. I would return when (and if) the timing felt right.
Arbitrary challenges and goals had to go. It didn’t make sense to put extra stress on myself for fun things like reading.
Providing spaces for downtime during the work day, actually made me be more productive
Setting limits to doing work outside of work had to be established in order to refresh myself for the next day
I started seeing improvements pretty quickly. I allowed myself time on the weekend to do nothing and not feel guilty about it. I limited screen time, including only checking work emails until 7:00pm. After that time, I would not check them until I got to work the next morning. I turned to reading books for fun (without a challenge attached) as a way to unwind in the evening.
I started to feel happiness creep back in. I allowed space to savor moments, enjoy being outside, and appreciate my friends and loved ones. However, with all of this downtime I began to get bored.
I wanted to reach out and try something new so in March I signed up for my first dance class since I was in elementary school. Hip Hop Dance at the community center has brought such positivity and joy back into my life. I feel my body and my mind work together in a way that is challenging yet so much fun. After I leave each class I have the urge to dance forever.
I wanted to take my exercise regimen beyond the once a week dance class and challenge myself even further. I remember reading about the Los Angeles Derby Dolls soon after moving here and after watching hours of derby bout videos on Youtube, I had to find a way to learn to play Roller Derby. In May, I signed up for my first Derby por Vida class and each week I feel my body perform things I could never have imagined it would be able to do. It’s empowering and leaves me feeling invincible (and starved for carbs).
I think that is why I feel comfortable returning to my blog. I have learned a lot about myself over the past year. I look for opportunities to practice minimalism every day. I have found that balancing work and rest has made me better and more content at my job. Challenging myself is rewarding, but knowing when to step away can be just as important.
So does my life still feel like work, sleep, work, sleep? Sometimes yes, but sometimes no. I am actively trying to change the cycle to be something more along the lines of: learning, exercising, working, cooking, reading, guitar playing, hanging out with my boyfriend, sleeping, working, enjoying nature, leaning choreography, going to the movies, learning derby skills, meeting up with friends, sleeping, working, personal growth, playing with my cat, sleeping, working, writing, sleeping, working.