Elasticity of the soul
I'm sure you know the feeling of stretching out an elastic band. You pull, and pull, and pull and can feel it straining, full of potential. Then, I'm sure you know the feeling when you let it go. SNAP! Ow!
The last three weeks, I've been the elastic band. And I've been the hand. I've stretched myself into new territory. I've expanded my horizons. I've exhausted myself, then had a rest and before I know it, SNAP! Ow! My hand hurts. My whole self is slack and out of shape.
Slowly, after talking to friends, colleagues and elders, I've noticed a pattern. I challenge, stretch, learn, achieve, then I snap. The first bits are fun. They're a buzz, addictive. Every time I go into that place I'm alive, excited, ready to take on the world. Every time, I achieve. Every time I make stuff happen. Then comes the snap, the crash.
It's different every time, but recently I have felt lonely, isolated, grumpy. When it comes I feel that the learning, challenging, achieving me is an imposter. I feel like doing nothing more than crawling into bed and curling into a ball and that anything else I do will be pointless. I shut down.
The snap is necessary though, because being continually 'on' is exhausting in so many ways. It's also defence. Once I step out of my comfort zone I make myself vulnerable. Anything that happens in that space affects me personally. In response, I cover myself up and protect myself. A few months ago, a friend was relentlessly negative and caustic. Every time I opened up personally he had a smart alec response. In this situation, it wasn't appropriate to call him out on his behaviour, so I went with it. But once at home, when I had no more responsibility, I felt myself shut down. Rather than fight it (tell myself to toughen up) as I would have in the past, I went with it and took myself to bed where I could wrap myself up, recover and build again.
As I talk to more people, I am learning that this isn't unique for me. We all have coping mechanisms. We all shut down or 'armour up'. We do it differently, but it is an important state of being.
I've noticed that as I get better at noticing my snap and accepting it, I learn better what I need, learn better how to manage it. I adapt better and become more effective and more resilient. Through all of this, I see myself constantly evolving which is exciting and scary. Taking a moment it though, letting it happen is becoming the most important thing. After each stage, through each evolution, I am refreshed and renewed. I am ready to step back up and make stuff happen, consistently.
If I want to make stuff happen (and I do), then I've got to look after myself. I'm sure I'll have ups and downs, but that's kinda the point. It's all part of the ride.