by Janne Robinson
I am burnt out today. I don’t have the energy to even be around other people.
I opened my phone this morning to six friend requests and a dozen messages and let out a huge dramatic sigh and wanted to yell an exasperated, “Get off my back!”
I have been busy this month.
And it’s beautiful. The amount of people responding and relating to my writing is beautiful and also overwhelming.
I don’t want to complain about busy due to writing success, but—I am for a moment.
I’m still learning how to manage it all, where it’s okay to give and where I need to step back a little.
I’ve also made some incredible, powerful new friendships in the last month.
Friendships take work and holding space.
Holding space, takes work.
Even what we love takes work, and energy.
As much as I love writing, it takes work.
Acknowledging people who comment and write me is so important.
Taking the time to see the people who took the time to see and hear my writing voice is something I want to do.
But the truth of the matter is, responding to comments on EJ’s website, on my Facebook page, my personal Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, email and then having a cellphone with text messages, phone calls and voicemails—that shit it exhausting.
Who has time for real life conversations when we are managing an online one?
And some people simply write me and say, “Hey, thanks” but some people write me and tell me their life stories, or send me their poems to read, or links they think I will like, or want advice.
I don’t have the energy for all of that.
I am not a therapist. I am not qualified to give life advice.
Hell, I’m just floundering around—like a sucker, figuring out my own life.
I can only speak for my own experiences, my own life.
I want to have enough time, energy and space for every single person who contacts me, but today I realized—I just don’t.
It takes away from writing, it takes away from creating.
Managing social media and being available through it to interact with everyone could be a full time job on it’s own.
People pay other people to manage their social media for a reason.
I would happily clone myself and have one of myself sit online 24/7 and use my brain and heart and see everyone, hear everyone, be available for everyone.
Then my other me could do things I love like, you know–live, be outside, here by the ocean, with my feet in the sand. My other me will do things she loves and needs like eat, shower, sleep, have real live friendships, write poems, start on film scripts, or I don’t know, put things in boxes because I am moving in 4 days. Those kinds of things.
But, there is just one of me.
Hell, even my skin which is metaphorically our biggest boundary in life is breaking out like mad with the stress this week.
My body is even saying, “Enough!”
So what I did today, is cancelled everything.
I said a big fat no to everything.
Keeping my word is important to me.
Showing up on time, and keeping appointments business or personal is incredibly important for me. It shows I not only value them but also my own word.
But sometimes, we need to reschedule. Sometimes our sanity is worth asking for a rain check.
If we are functioning at a place of zero, we cannot pump out art, work we love, any of it.
We are not being in service to ourselves, or this world when we are burnt out.
So I wrote my first Skype appointment a message and told her how full life felt and asked to reschedule. I made sure to say, “Hey, you’re important to me. I am interested in us working together. I am just burnt out and need to go play in the woods.”
I called a friend I was meant to Skype with from Alberta and said, “Hey I know you’re having a hard time right now and I want to support you but I am exhausted. I can’t hold space because I am not feeling inspired. I’m going to need to do this time. I need to support myself.”
Both people were understanding, receptive, and told me to go take care of myself.
Then what did I do?
Turned my damn phone off.
I felt relieved instantly.
Watching my social media, my text messages and my emails fade into the non-existence that they are.
I tromped in the woods for an hour; I put on my favourite Shaky Graves Audio tree session and cut the shit out of some kindling with my axe. I have enough wood split for two winters. I went to a waterfall and just listened to the water rush by me.
I went and walked to the end of the pier in Roberts Creek and lay out in the delicious open, by the sea with the wind tearing the stress of my body. I even did some back bends bundled in wool, thrusting my wide-open heart at the ocean reaching far into the distance in front of me.
I immediately felt better. I could breathe. My brain felt balanced and calm.
I no longer was irritated, or angry with the people existing around me.
Setting boundaries to have our own space feels so good.
We need boundaries. We need them as much as we need air.
We need to say no to be in service to ourselves.
We need to say yes to ourselves to maintain our mental health and well being.
Feeling burnt out is not worth it.
Taking on so much work that we are depleted is not being productive.
Learn to say no, to be in your power—you will be better off, and so will those around you.