Yesterday in the midst of several different goings-on durning my now normal-ish routine, I found myself feeling the all-too-familiar feeling of being quite overwhelmed with commitments. It’s a rush of anxiety that sweeps through me and momentarily distracts me from the present moment and into the future where I’m thinking of half a dozen things I’ve agreed to do. It happened two or three times. I think the inspiration for this feeling is ignited by the notifications on my phone of a new message from some person or another. It dings or lights up or buzzes in my hand and I have to have a quick look and respond to whatever it is.
The first noticeable instance was when my mom came to visit and I had left my phone in the kitchen and had to retrieve it when it went off in the middle of some story she was relaying to me. I was mildly irritated by my need to respond to whatever it was right away, or at the very least know who/why the device had made some noise. Why couldn’t I just let it go at least for the duration of her visit and attend to it when she had gone?
The second noticeable instance was when I went to have coffee with Josh. As we sat there, I had at least one other semi-active conversation taking place from said hand-held device as well as receiving multiple messages from my children. I was quite distracted and could feel the distraction making me uncomfortable. I want to be present in the moment when I am physically with a person and yet my mind can’t help but wander and think about my replies. He even took notice of it at one point, letting me know that the change in my face based on what I had read was noticeable. I was a touch ashamed of this and tried to focus on the present moment.
The third was when I was with the kids later in the evening. I took them to see the new Spider-Man movie and left my phone on vibrate and face down during the duration of the movie. A few points in the show I was inclined to turn it up for just a moment to see if there were new notifications. I wasn’t too concerned about disturbing other theatre goers as there were only about 7 people in the movie total, including the three of us. There were notifications, which I quickly read but would put off reply until after the movie.
On the way home it was late, like 10:30 and the city felt sort of silent as-if it were the middle of the night. I guess on a Wednesday, that is kind of already well into the night. As I was driving, I just felt like I had over-extended myself with meet-ups, lunches, events I wanted to attend, and first dates. I was quickly toggling from one thing to the next in my brain trying to solidify when I was supposed to be where and with whom so I could be adequately prepared. I had reached out earlier in the day to several friends I have not talked to in a while and they had all gotten back to me and we’d made some sort of a plan. That, in addition to the plans I’ve already sort of made were causing the anxiety in me to rise.
Biking Thursday with a new acquaintance.
Potentially a first date/coffee/walk on Thursday.
A poetry reading also on Thursday I really want to attend.
My Dad this Friday.
Perhaps taking the kids on a quick road trip this weekend.
Sam on Monday.
Kelly on Tuesday.
Amy on Wednesday.
Mom again Thursday
Barb next Friday.
It does not seem like much, but my brain was cycling through and having issues with it. I had a worry I was forgetting something and was double booked or would not have proper time between things to prepare for the next or that I was somehow already neglecting my time with my children by leaving the house so much to go spend time with other people.
I feel like I am doing that very familiar thing I always did with work in that I expect too much of myself and take on the burden of what all of it is without letting on to anyone else in on it. I sort of told the kids in the car how I was feeling and Zoey’s answer back to me was that I should cancel some things. The thought never had occurred to me. Then she said “you don’t have to cancel, just do a rain-check”. She’s such a smart girl and that’s good advice.
I think I thought that since I wasn’t working now one of my primary objectives should be to fortify my relationships with people but in my need for instant gratification I have over-booked myself and thus caused the same sense of panic I always had when I did that at work. I blamed my company for that sometimes, but in the end recognized it is a flaw in my own character I have to figure out how to solve. Perhaps Z is on to something and that I just need to re-schedule some at a later time.
The other dynamic, I realize after thinking this through this morning, is that my phone and the ‘ease of communication’ is contributing to my issue and perhaps there is an opportunity to minimize that as well. If I am with someone or in the middle of some activity, I should just leave it “down” or have it quite away in a way I’m not tempted to constantly attend to it. I may have to think on that a little more, but I have thoughts brewing about how to nip that issue or at least test myself to see how disconnected I can actually be from my phone and still get along OK going about my day-to-day.
I’ve been awake since 5AM and it is 7:30 now and I need to figure out a plan for this day in light of the four things I have scheduled. I’m hoping people are as understanding with me when I try and reschedule as I am with other people when that happens to me. I hope. We’ll see.
Time to Make the Donuts,