It’s 8:30 p.m. and I’m sitting in bed with my laptop, working.
The dishes are still in the sink. The unfolded—but clean!—laundry is still in the basket. And I can’t remember if I showered. (Blame the pandemic.)
I started the year feeling good, feeling like this was going to be the year. The year I organize my 95,609 photos! The year I finish my novel! The year I lose the post-giant-baby weight! The year I floss my teeth regularly! The year I do just one thing—anything!—better than last year!
And then it’s March 8.
How did that happen?
I wish I could blame something (husband, kid, shipping crisis) other than the real problem (me). Instead of working on my novel circa 2008, I scroll through Instagram and feel worse about my life choices. And then I see someone coring a pineapple and filling it with Champagne and I make another slew of questionable decisions—Amazon purchases, alcohol consumption on a Tuesday afternoon, forgetting to floss (again).
January quickly turned into March and my life hasn’t much improved since 2017.
Yeah, I know, Instagram only shows the highlight reels of people’s lives. I know, we’re all doing the best we can. And I agree, we all measure success differently and, by most standards, I’m doing OK. I have a job that lets me work remotely, my cholesterol is surprisingly normal considering what I eat, and I can still fit most of the clothes I wore pre-pregnancy (though I did always wear a lot of stretch fabric).
And yes, I do get a lot done in 24 hours. I make home lunch every morning (necessity), I cook and bake all the time (stress therapy), the plants in my garden really do produce vegetables (nature).
But this is the stuff most of us have to do. Pay bills, eat, shower (if you remember), take out the trash, wash dishes, walk the dogs. I have a list of things I want to do. And when I can’t get to those things—usually because the need-to-do stuff gets in the way—that’s when I start to feel like I’m failing. I’m failing at being able to do it all. I’m failing at succeeding. I’m failing at the point of life.
I realize it’s impossible to do everything, but even fitting in one more thing into my jam-packed schedule—and doing that thing consistently—seems infeasible. Like I’m barely managing what I already have. And you want me to take an in-person yoga class twice a week? And find parking? On a weekday? THERE IS NO WAY.
Or is there…?
(No, there isn’t.)
Add to this the element of time. Or, rather, the running-out-of-time.
Maybe it’s being in my 40s now, but I feel like I’m losing grip on time. I thought I would have published a novel by now. I thought I would have organized my 95,609 photos. I thought I would have had more stamps in my passport, a second kid, a fancier fanny pack.
And the days are zooming by. I feel like I just took down our Christmas tree and it‘s already a week before Spring Break.
Sometimes I think we get too focused on the daily to-do list, the getting-through-it stuff that we forget to fit in anything else. Because there’s always something I need to do. I need to go to Costco. I need to buy snacks for soccer. I need to wash my car. I need to visit my parents. I need to finish my taxes. I need to clean the windows. I need to organize the garage. I need to give the dogs a bath. I need to catch up with the latest Housewives. The list of needs go on and on. And all I’m focused on today is just getting through it without an emotional outburst, mental breakdown or threats to pack a small suitcase and sleep in a five-star hotel for the night.
I know I should be kinder to myself. But I don’t even have the extra time for that.
I’d like to say I have an easy solution to this dilemma. I don’t. And my feeling of failure is wholly my own. Anyone can look at my life and say, “What’s she complaining about?” There are worse things going on in the world right now than my inability to carve out enough time to floss my teeth.
But I wish there was more I could do, a way to add more meaning and fulfillment into my life, to feel like I’m doing more than just ticking off lists of chores and grocery items.
At least it’s only March. I still have nine more months to figure this out, before Christmas comes around and I say, “Wait, wasn’t it just Spring Break…?”
Maybe I should ditch goals altogether in 2023. I mean, you can’t fail when there’s no way you can succeed, right?