There have been many moments of self discovery since I’ve been here in Austin: I’ve learned how much I love the sweltering summer heat, how much I actually don’t hate okra, that I can find tutorials for just about anything on the internet, and how satisfying it feels to change your own car headlight.
But by far the most discouraging discovery I’ve made is that I need to re-learn some life skills if I am to live successfully on my own.
What I’m saying is, once I was past MOVE ALL THE THINGS mode, past decorating and arranging and decorating some more, past the part where my apartment was a constant project and finally to the place where it was relaxing and liveable…my coping skills took an absolute nosedive. Apparently I thrive on constant input and crisis management. Who knew?
(I did. Actually.)
And ‘thrive’ isn’t really the right word, because I was stressed and on edge the whole time that my apartment was in disarray, but at least gave me something to DO. Or rather, when I wandered into a room and forgot what the heck I was supposed to be doing, there was always something else to do until my memory got jogged. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. You would think that having a perfectly clean and furnished apartment that you live in by yourself would not be all that hard to maintain but it was, at it turns out, and I felt like I was always playing catch up. Never having quite enough clean dishes or food in the fridge or dry towels or hand soap or…you name it, I probably forgot about it. I guess I never realized how much it helps to have other people around to say, “Hey, did you mean to leave your clothes in the washer?” “Hey, are those your dishes in the sink?” or “Hey, is dinner burning?”
This all came to a head this past weekend when Kayla invited me out to a fun Austin event and I just…couldn’t. I mean, I wanted to but I was exhausted. Burnt out by a week that wasn’t all that hard. Not in the physical sense, not in the emotional sense, not even in the introvert sense. I actually felt like I had been fighting an uphill battle all week just to get to the place where I had food in the fridge, dishes put away, and clean clothes to wear the next day.
And. I. Was. Exhausted.
I actually began to think that there really weren’t enough hours in the week, that I really couldn’t do all that I wanted to do and was just doomed to be the burnt out husk of a working young adult living in one of the coolest cities in the world and not enjoying the half of it. Until I did the math, and realized that there are sixty-seven hours in the week during which I am neither asleep or at work. SIXTY SEVEN. What on earth was I doing with sixty seven hours that I didn’t feel like I ever had enough time to even brush my teeth?
I’ll tell you what I was doing: spending an unreasonable amount of time just figuring out what to do next.
I’m not lazy, and I don’t forget wet clothes or burning food just because I couldn’t be bothered. In my attempt to stay on top of everything, I wasn’t actually getting anything done. When things finally came to crisis mode and I made one big push to get everything accomplished (read: my Saturdays, since moving here) I was so wrung out from the previous week of Sisyphean effort that I needed a good day or two to recover, and enjoy my hard-fought peace and order. Which meant for yet another weekend spent in my apartment.
As I said, it was a discouraging bit of self discovery, but motivating as well, and I’ve been working little by little this week to set up systems. Not ‘A System’ because that’s just asking for failure, but lots of little systems to help me be, well…less of a stressed-out scatterbrain. I may not be able to help the scatterbrained part, but the stress is completely optional. If it means breaking down my life into “The Idiots Guide to Housekeeping,” then so be it. I do feel a little like I’m channeling Bob: baby steps to the kitchen, baby steps to the sink.
But it’s working. I’m feeling less burnt out, more on top of things, more capable, and I’m going to go out and do something Austin-y this weekend. I don’t know what yet, but it will be great. Because this is Austin. How could it not be?