What happens when you show up but you forget yourself?
You know when you have one of those days where you're trying to put milk in the kitchen drawer and peanut butter in the fridge? Today is one of those days. This morning, I found myself completely puzzled as to why my tea wasn't turning brown to only realise that I was pouring hot water into an empty cup.
And it really made me think.
When we get tired and we need a break, these are the silly things we end up doing. We end up doing things out of muscle memory, but our brains are too tired that we end up getting it wrong.
And I think there's a lot in here to unravel about how we do the work we feel we were meant to do, and our own creativity.
And how our work shows up and how we show up when we’re frazzled, overwhelmed and out of sorts. Because sometimes we need a break. Sometimes we need to stand back, do something passive like binge watch Netflix and just give our brains some time to chill. the. fuck. out.
I’ve been so tired lately and it’s been a combination of so many things. Thyroid problems, feeling like I’m bleeding out the Mississippi river, not taking a proper break after the podcast launch, being completely booked out with graphic design clients, and feeling my anxiety really ride up.
I’m straight up exhausted.
And yet I’m expecting myself to produce the same work as if I’d had a week’s break and taken some time to re-charge myself.
It’s like pouring into a cup without a teabag and expecting it to turn to tea and getting angry with yourself when it doesn’t.
The work we’re called to do, and all of the creative things we do, they don’t just show up. We spend so long trying to find them, and when they do, we often end up so burnt out because we’re so caught up in this cycle of being good enough, feeling responsible and being hard on ourselves that we produce things we’re not proud of and end up blaming ourselves.
But here’s the thing. If we’re showing up exhausted and we’re showing up completely frazzled then of course we’re missing the key ingredient. Of course the water isn’t going to turn brown and the tea leaves aren’t going to diffuse.
That makes logical sense.
Yet we blame ourselves and beat ourselves up like we’ve just committed some huge crime. Then we tell ourselves we’re not good enough and end up down that rabbit hole, and by the time we’ve finished, end up feeling like crap and trying to work harder as if we have to prove something to ourselves.
There’s a song I love by Kacey Musgraves, and in the chorus she sings:
“You can't be everybody's cup of tea
Some like the bitter, some the sweet
Nobody's everybody's favorite
So you might as well just make it how you please”
And I think we’re getting stuck even before we’ve started to make the tea.
Because when we don’t look after ourselves and end up working for work’s sake, we’re not creating a space to even make it.
We just assume that we have to make that cup of tea and it has to turn out beautiful, no matter how we started.
But that isn’t how it works.
Not that I’ve got it completely figured out. Of course I haven’t.
But what I’m learning is that you need that teabag. Chances are you already have the boiling water or whatever equipment you need to make your work. Whether it’s a laptop, paints, paper, wood, whatever.
But you need that tea. You need that thing that brings it all together and makes the magic happen.
And that, by the way, is you. The skills you bring to the table, your perspective, your unique combination of strengths. Your stories, your experience, your ability to tell a story and paint the picture.
The magic is never going to happen if you forget you. And you get lost in a crazy frantic pace of life and you don’t take time to sit and give your brain a bit of a vacation.
We all get stuck in that land where we forget ourselves, of course we do. The important thing is coming to recognise it and doing something about it.
For me, today that looks like not judging myself for lying on my bed and watching Jane the Virgin for the whole day. It looks like finding the Headspace app and trying to slow down my thoughts and my continually playing to-do list in my mind.
And that’s going to look completely different to yours.
Because isn’t that the whole point in all of this anyway? We’re bringing things to the world that come as a result of our direct experiences, our own skill sets and our own strengths combination that only we can bring.
So I think you’ll agree with me, that’s something worth treasuring, right?
Do something today to remember you. Because you are worth more than your to-do list and all the things you feel you have to do today.
I’d love to know what you do to remember yourself and what you need to produce the work you love! Let me know in the comments!