I’ve always related to the line that Eldon Tyrell says to the replicant that he created, Roy Batty, in the original Blade Runner (in the movie replicants can have superior strength, speed, agility, resilience, and intelligence — but they have a 4 year lifespan):
The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long, and you have burned so very very brightly, Roy.
As a person, I’ve often felt that I have extraordinary gifts in intelligence, creativity, and empathy. But due to my chronic illnesses which affects my energy levels, I feel that I’ve never been able to use these talents to their full capacity.
Maybe that seems like a fair trade off to you, but let me tell you: It sucks.
Here’s what happens:
For a while, I’m ON FIRE with a new project. I have initial successes that are so quick and so extreme that it’s no wonder people develop inordinate expectations for me.
I can list some of these successes for you:
- At 18, I was the youngest person in my store to be promoted to management at Barnes and Noble.
- I was accepted into the University of Michigan Ann Arbor at the age of 24 — when I had a 9-month-old and a 3-year-old. It took me a little longer to finish my degree (mostly due to finances), but I did.
- I became a Sweetland Peer Tutor at U of M, which is no small thing. After being nominated by a professor, I had to apply with a writing sample. When my application was chosen, I interviewed with the director of the program. The highlight of my interview was the director of the program telling me that my paper “Sexism Among the Supers: A Semantic Analysis of Male and Female Superhero Names” was ‘the strongest piece of undergraduate writing that she had read since becoming director of the program.’
- When I began soapmaking in 2007, I started a blog to chronicle my progress. (This was before there were a billion YouTube videos on soapmaking.) Within a month of starting my blog, Anne-Marie Faiola — the founder and CEO of Brambleberry started following and commenting on my blog.
There are other, more recent, examples. But those are some that stand out in my memory.
The thing is… almost each of those things led to some kind of burnout, which in my mind equals failure. And some of the failures still haunt me.
I started professional cuddling knowing that I would have to take things slow. That I’d have to build in breaks and down-time. That I couldn’t just have my foot on the gas pedal the whole time.
This is actually the first time that I’ve gone into a project knowing that I needed to be careful of my energy limitations. (You’d think that I would have learned this lesson earlier in life, but it’s only been in the past couple of years that I have figured this out.)
Right now, I don’t feel 100% burned out. (If I was, I wouldn’t even be able to write this blog entry.) But I am not in a sustainable place; I’m experiencing enough burnout that I’m starting to have bouts of extreme anxiety.
I am worried. I can’t do nothing. That leads to anxiety. And I can’t do all the things, either.
I’m having an extremely hard time coming up with what the proper ‘order of operations’ is to get myself back into a place of balance. And I need to come up with more strategies to STAY in that place of balance.
I don’t want to fail again.