Monday, May 5, 2014

The Burnout Basin

Have you ever had that moment when you look at who you are, and feel a desire deep within you say, "I want, no...I need to be different."

Well, I oft have those moments, and usually it's followed with a "What in the world am I supposed to do with that?"

Change is easy, change is inevitable.  Progress is harder to map out.  Because really, HOW are we supposed to both identify and work toward a 'different' that is superior or preferable to the current state of being, when we lack knowledge of what 'different' actually looks like?

I know all the cliche answers by heart.  "Pray, read your scriptures, go to the temple, etc."  I don't wish to diminish the importance of all of those things.  They have all helped me in the past.  But, I have also come to learn that, sometimes, God just wants you to search, ponder, and figure it out on your own.  Kind of like in a field test, I don't doubt that He'd step in and help me more directly if I ever got into danger.  But, if I'm to be a wise steward, I have to be willing to practice faith, step into the dark, and utilize the gifts He's given me (intelligence, agency, the Spirit, family, friends, etc) to make wise choices.  I know how much I hate it (and I'm pretty sure He know's how much I hate it), and lately, it seems to be the theme in this phase of my life.

Oh yeah...and, it's exhausting.
Have you ever tried to make a change, switched some things up, then found yourself falling quickly into old habits and familiar behaviors?  Or went after something you wanted, only to figure out that it offered no improvement, and perhaps even felt like taking two steps back?  Lately, I feel like my efforts to change certain aspects of my thinking/behavior/self often feels like trying to run up an eternal sand dune.  The inertia of previous choices is constantly dragging me back, and the more effort I put into forging the path ahead, the more exhausted, weighed down, and hopeless I feel about getting somewhere better.  

It's as if He's testing the limits of my longevity and determination, and honestly, I'm burning out.  I'm am tired.  I'm tired of trying to be better.  I'm tired of always looking ahead.  I'm tired of caring about where I go.  I'm tired of trying, only to be met with the disappointment and frustration of going nowhere.  I'm tired of being wrong, of being corrected, and I'm especially tired of having to start over and over again.  I just want to stop it all, eat some ice cream, and take a nap.  A very very long nap.

Problem is, I've felt that way for several months.  I have taken a few days here and there to nap and eat my ice cream, but they offer no relief.  In a way, they actually cause me even more frustration, by making me keenly aware of the fact that I still don't like where I am, that I NEED to keep moving, but I'm in no way motivated to get anywhere, nor do I know where I want to go.  I constantly ask myself questions like "Is it so bad here?" or "Is it worth the effort to get there?"  I think what I'm coming to understand is, that if I'm asking those kinds of questions, the answer is yes.  Yes it is so bad here, that's why you feel a brick in your gut most of the time.  Yes, it's worth the effort.  Even if you don't get to where you want to go, it won't get better if you stay keep moving!

So yes, part of me knows that doing something is better than doing nothing, but after several months of failing at all the somethings I try for, I'm wearing down.  I just want something to work, get traction, and go.  I'm tired of being single and making all of my life choices on my own.  I'm tired of feeling the futility of my current job and still working so hard to excel in it.  I'm tired of having to constantly remind myself that I have worth and value, especially when it feels like I'm the only one who believes that.  I'm tired of aching for a mentor, sage, or heck, a guru who sees potential within me, can help me see the possible paths ahead, or just tell me what to do.  I'm tired of not having any roots and being as mobile and free as a cottonwood seed.  I'm tired of where I am.  I'm tired of being stumped on where to go.

So what do I do?  How do I proceed?  If I have a limited amount of effort to expend, lots of avenues I could expend it in, and no preference or vision of which would be the most fruitful, WHAT DO I DO?

Well, my epiphany for the day finally answered that question.  The answer?

In other words: Be patient.  Ugh.

I have a good life.  I don't want anyone to think I don't recognize that.  I have fantastic friends, an awesome family, a good job, and a capable mind/body.  But even in the recognition of those gifts, I also see and, perhaps more intensely, feel a constant need for more.  I see a need for me to reach for more, do more, and feel more.  What I'm realizing, is that reaching, doing, and feeling doesn't have to be done at an exhausting pace, and it doesn't have to all be done right now.  But what is the proper pace? idea.

Patience with myself has never been a strong suit.  Patience with others is oddly easier for me.  I'm not a blamer, and I can usually give people the benefit of the doubt that they're trying their personal best.  I have a hard time giving myself that same leniency.  This is mostly cuz I know kind of know my personal best, and love feeling like I can offer that - until I'm tired.  "Tired" does weird things to my personal best.  It's like a 100lb log being tied to my leg in a 5K.  Something I can normally manage suddenly feels impossible, and I constantly question if what I do accomplish is really all I could do.

And again, I know patience plays a part in that.  I've always been annoyed at the pace I learn, build strength and endurance, form good habits, and even the time it takes for me to get to know people.  I think I actually am slower than most human beings, in many ways.  As I age though, I'm beginning to notice that I'm getting even slower , and thus, more and more impatient with myself.

So, my questions:

1. How do we practice patience with self?
2. How do we practice patience with life?

I won't pretend to have answers to these...yet.  But if you have insights, please post.

If you don't have insights, but know all the feelings and frustrations I've described here...stay tuned.