We've all felt it; those sandpaper eyes, body aching, clumsy stepping, nonsense mumbling feeling that encompasses being exhausted. We've all stayed up too late for whatever reason, pushing ourselves too hard our just enjoying life too much; we've had days that just drained every last ounce of energy from our veins or we've had situations that leeched the life from us and left us so weary we wondered if we could pick ourselves back up again. We've all been completely and utterly exhausted.
When I was in high school I would often stay up working on projects I had saved for the night before, frantically searching for images of the solar system to paste to my poster board and staring at a computer screen so long my retinas were temporarily seared. I also stayed up on the weekends to spend the night at girlfriends' houses, talking long into the night about that hunk of a football player all the girls were after, analyzing every word of every song Three Doors Down ever made, and flipping through issue upon issue of Seventeen to find the perfect prom dress or find out if my crush liked me based on my definitive answers to the randomly selected multiple choice questions.
In college things didn't get much better. I would stay up again for projects I had procrastinated, however these were often much longer, much more detailed and much more important, only adding to the pressure I felt to greet the sun with my ninth cup of coffee. Speaking of coffee, I also worked at a coffee shop and had to be there by four in the morning, leaving very little time to sleep anyway. When I wasn't staying up all night and day working and going to school, I was spending time with friends, going to midnight movie premiers or 3 am trips to the beach. Sleep was a convenience, and I wasn't looking for convenience.
Then on to motherhood. Ahem, pregnancy rang in this bell. I had no sooner started to finally have people ask me when I was expecting my little bundle when my little bundle became more like a hippopotamus in my bed! I couldn't get out of my own way! I took up too much room and therefore, there wasn't enough room for me; even if I tried to roll over, somehow sweet little bundle of hippo got there first making it impossible to sleep comfortably if at all. Then the bundle became a gorgeous little baby. A beautiful, screaming, eating, pooping, burping, clinging, frantic, little baby. I thought I would be fine considering all the all-nighters I had pulled in my life, but I was definitely shocked when faced with the reality of how very little babies sleep. Sleeping like a baby??? Qué??!
I told myself that toddlers sleep through the night so as soon as I hit that point, I'm home free! My hopes were dashed last night (among others) when Daughter woke up at 4 am insisting that she needed to wear a princess dress and princess shoes and make sure it was still dark outside before going back to sleep. Ehhh.
So you would think exhaustion wouldn't be an issue for me, and for the most part, I deal with physical exhaustion well, with the exception of the times it really catches up to me and slaps me across the face.
However, I am having a hard time adjusting to a different type of exhaustion. I have learned that emotional and mental exhaustion is a territory that is uncharted and unforgiving. And I am so exhausted inside.
I am tired of trying to everything to everyone. I am exhausted from trying to fulfill everyone's needs, to please everyone around me, to be who everyone wants or needs me to be. I find myself constantly pushing aside what is truly important to me; what I truly need, what I want, what is good for myself and for my family in order to please people around me or be there for them. I'm not talking about having an issue with being what my family needs me to be (although wonder woman is a rather intimidating role) or being there to help out close friends when they need someone or something. I love to have people in my life and I love to show them how special and valuable they are to me.
I am talking about just trying to meet "peoples'" expectations, their standards. I am talking about the times when I find myself feeling down, guilty or apologizing for qualities, traits and interests that make me who I am. These things make me the person that people like or dislike. I am exhausted by trying to make sure everyone likes me; and I don't do this because I feel that I need that huge of a network (I have Verizon anyway, so I apparently don't need very many more people), but because there is some fiber in my being, something wired into my makeup that makes me loathe disappointing people. Anyone. I shudder when I know that I've disappointed my Father and thinking about the many more times in my life when I will. I hate disappointing my family, of course. I hate disappointing my friends. I hate disappointing my boss at work, which is weird, because I really am not the biggest fan anyway, so you would think I wouldn't mind. But I do! I hate disappointing those people in the mall that try to curl/straighten your hair or put some insanely magical lotion on your hands. I hate disappointing the drive-thru people when they ask me to upsize my meal so that I can leave with 186 oz of ice tea instead of the standard 24 oz. I hate when people disagree with me because I am afraid they are disappointed in me. I even find myself apologizing to the man in the car that just cut me off so badly I had to slam on my brakes and there is now a four car pile-up behind me and I am pulled off in the ditch. Really, I wave sorry before I even think about using the horn. Why am I like this??
I don't know the answer to that, but I have been learning a lot of lessons lately. I have been learning that I am who I am. It sounds so simple, but it really is a hard thing for me to wrap my brain around. I have learned that when I let other people tell me who I should be or steer me down a path I have not chosen for myself, that I am really showing very little respect and pride for myself. We cannot look to the people around us as mirrors because they are clouded. The only true reflection we should look to is our Father, for His mirror is clear and clean. He not only shows us exactly who we are, which is who He created us to be, but He teaches us to love and accept ourselves that way. And if we are constantly beating ourselves up or trying to change or apologizing for who we are then we are insulting our maker.
Of course, we are not the same person we were the day we were born, the day we graduated or even the person we were one year ago. We naturally change with the different influences and experiences that are put in out lives. However, we can change gracefully and positively if we are keeping our compass focused on Him. I think change is a wonderful thing that we all need to accept and embrace; as long as we are not changing our hard-wired makeup: our values, morals and standards for ourselves, we should be walking into new days and experiences with our heads held high, knowing that through life we are molded into the best possible person we can be. I am slowly but surely learning to accept that and love it.
I am tired of being exhausted because I am draining myself trying to be what everyone else hopes and wants me to be. I need to be who and what I am for myself and my family. I will learn to accept this with pride and joy and not apologize for who I am. We are "fearfully and wonderfully made...I know that full well." David shows us this lesson in Psalm 139:14. I think that if I take this lesson and make it my own, I will draw people to me who genuinely love me for me. People who will never dream of making me feel badly for the person I am or the things I like or how I am; but people who will love me for that. These people are the ones that deserve special places in your life; they will receive and welcome the differences and similarities and respect you for being true to yourself.
I am proud of who God has made me and although I know that He will continue to change and mold me as I continue down this journey, I can rest (and stop being exhausted) knowing that I am who He made me to be. Not only is this an important lesson for me to hold near but it is an important lesson for me to live boldly and teach my children as well.