I’m so done with pushing through and doing more

I originally shared this in my email letter. For more content like that, you can sign up for my email letter here.

I’m sitting here curled up on my couch. It’s a morning mid way through the week, and I am tired. I’ve been through a lot the last month or so that I’m not ready to share here, but it’s not just that. Something else is beneath the surface – a sense of overwhelm I feel at a nervous system level. Maybe it’s adrenal fatigue, maybe it’s just stress built up over time, but whatever it is it’s here, it’s present, and I need to pay attention. 

We are taught in our society to skim over the information our body, mind and emotions give us. We are told we need to push through, persevere, be strong and just deal with it all. That’s what I’ve learned, and that’s what I’ve done my whole life. 

When I was seventeen I graduated high school and started my undergrad.

I was so stressed and struggled with severe anxiety attacks. I was in five science courses, with four labs, and I worked part-time on the side. I also volunteered regularly and tried to maintain a busy social life. I went to therapist after therapist and each one told me that I needed to let something go, that something had to give, that I wasn’t made to do everything. But I didn’t like that answer. I told them I couldn’t possibly give anything up, that my life would certainly implode if I did. I had to find a way to keep it all together. So I hopped from therapist to therapist, trying to find someone who would actually just fix me. Of course, no one could because I was trying to meet an impossible standard and achieve beyond any level of what I could reasonably handle.

Push through. Get stronger. Do more. Work harder. 

Eventually, I gave in a little bit.

After my relationship ended, I scaled back the courses I was doing a little. I found a little more balance. But I was still full steam ahead. In my first job once I finished my degree, I remember locking the door of my office and hiding, curled up on the floor of my desk to take cat naps in between meetings because I was so exhausted. I was eating healthily, regularly exercising, and sleeping well. I had a healthy social network and I was fulfilled in my job. But I was still so tired I had to curl up under my desk every day. And I told myself that was normal.

Push through. Get stronger. Do more. Work harder. 

After that, when I was in my early twenties I landed what was my dream job at the time.

It involved organizing campaigns for climate justice all across the country, working with hundreds of students on university campuses. I traveled at least once a month for work, either locally, nationally, or internationally. I was entirely responsible for fundraising my own salary and and all the organization’s expenses, and so when I traveled this meant I was crashing on couches and air mattresses on the floor. I was exhausted from all the stress of keeping this organization afloat, almost entirely on my own, and traveling all the time. I burnt out within a year.

Push through. Get stronger. Do more. Work harder. 

I went back to school for a full year of upgrades so I could switch into mental health work.

I took four courses each semester, worked part-time and volunteered for at least fifteen hours a week. I applied for my Masters in Counselling Psychology and miraculously got in my first try. I learned that if I pushed through, got stronger, did more and worked harder, I could achieve anything. 

That mentality got me through my undergrad, it landed me my dream job at the time, it got me into my Masters on my first try, then it got me through my Masters (during which, by the way, instead of doing the two required practicums I did four, while working twenty hours a week to pay the bills and taking a full course load).

Push through. Get stronger. Do more. Work harder. It works. Or so I had learned. 

I finished my Masters and got a job that so impacted my mental health I quit within three months.

Not because I’m not great at what I do – I am. But because I couldn’t handle the demands and it was taking such a toll on my mental health. So I left that job and hustled as hard as I could to start and build my own private practice, just over a year ago.

Push through. Get stronger. Do more. Work harder. 

First year of private practice…

Over the first year of my private practice, I worked five different jobs part-time over the course of the year in addition to building my practice to ensure I could pay the bills. I built an incredible audience and community on social media and my Instagram grew to 10k in the first year (which I am so grateful for – I love all of you).

But still, my mentality was: Push through. Get stronger. Do more. Work harder. 

I am so done. 

I am so done with pushing through, getting stronger, doing more and working harder. I don’t want to do that anymore. The capitalist and patriarchal systems that tell us this is what we need to do to succeed are not built for any actual human to thrive in. I constantly counsel clients who believe they are weak or a failure because they can’t keep up with the rat race and I tell them “no it’s not you, nothing is wrong with you, it’s the system that’s fucked”. And yet here I am, running on the same hamster wheel. 

I’m done. I want to get off. And yet, all these internalized beliefs about what I should do, how much money I should make, how many hours I should work, are so hard to shake. 

What I’ve learned is this:

I love my work. Most of the time, even in the jobs I have left behind, I have loved a lot of the work I have had the privilege of doing. And right now, I truly do enjoy almost everything I get to do in a given day. I have created a job that is a patchwork quilt of all of my favourite things – writing, creating, supporting and guiding others, learning, self-reflection, connecting with other inspiring individuals. I love it all, and I am still exhausted. 

So that tells me it’s not the “what”. It’s not that I have to run away from yet another job (don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere). It’s the “how”. Something about how I am doing this is all wrong. I have the ultimate freedom and flexibility and yet I am still waking up drained and tired. My nervous system still feels fried. 

Even now, I am creating and marketing this course on anxiety – which is something I truly love and believe in, so genuinely from the bottom of my heart. I am so excited about this offering, and I am also so tired of shouting from the rooftops about it. 

So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to start with this: 

I’m going to start with being more honest and real about where I am at. I’m tired of pretending I have endless resources to give. I’m tired of only showing up when I’m bubbly and energized, or pretending I am when I’m not. 

I think most of us are pretty tired. At a new moon circle I had last month, the women there were checking in and sharing their feelings and almost every single one of us said “I’m so tired.” We’re all so tired. Because we live in this society that demands so much of us. It makes me want to cry or scream just thinking about it. 

The unraveling:

I don’t really know how to do this unraveling. I have some ideas. I know some of it is pretty simple in theory: working less, getting off my phone, setting boundaries around when I check my emails and go on social media, taking time to stop and breathe or read a book between clients instead of cramming in fifteen minutes of checking emails. 

But I know it also goes deeper than that. I know this work is really about changing the beliefs that lie at the core of this. 

I want to unravel every single thing I was told I should be or should do, and become who I actually am. 

I think, and it’s so scary to say it, but I think that means showing up here a bit differently. This unraveling, and becoming, is the work I truly love. This process of finding and creating a home within ourselves. That’s what I want more than anything. To feel at home in myself. And that’s what I want for you too. 

Are you with me?

It’s not going to be easy, but I want to do the work of unraveling. I want to unravel the trauma and the anxiety and the patriarchy and the capitalism and the lack mentality and the shoulds and all the bullshit and peel away all the layers until all that is left is me, who I really am, and then I want to become her, and make my home in her heart. 

I don’t know exactly what this looks like yet, or how this will unfold in terms of how I show up online, or how it will transform into my offerings here. But I know it needs more attention.

I know for now I need to hush the voice that tells me: Push through. Get stronger. Do more. Work harder. And instead focus on growing the one that says: Be gentle. Get softer. Do less. Work kinder. 

Right now it’s a whisper, but I’m listening. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Does this resonate for you?

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  • Thank you so much Kelsey. Yes it does resonate with me. I too love my life yet am tired… so tired.
    Lets unravel together

    • I’m so glad to hear this resonates with you too Alexandra! Here’s to the unraveling!

  • Yes, it totally resonates. Grind culture. Ugh. It’s a cliche, but we’re human beings not human doings. Our worth is not dependent on what we can produce. Easy to say, but like you mention, capitalism has programmed us to believe it is. We have value because we exist and that is all. Two things your post made me think of: thenapministry on Instagram and a new book by Glennon Doyle “Untamed”.
    Both address the subject. I’m here for this unlearning and living true to me. Thank you for sharing your ideas and thoughts. xo

    • Somehow I completely missed your comment until now Kelley – I’m so sorry. I LOVE Glennon Doyle’s book Untamed as well. So glad you found that and it resonated with you too.

  • This poem helps me:

    Being Soft

    “You’re feeling sad,” says my teddy.
    “Very,” I say.
    “Teddy? How do you stay soft?” I ask my bear.
    “My body is very tense and painful,
    I fear I’m going to get all hard on the inside.”
    “It takes lots of practice to be soft,” says my bear.
    “Do you want to practice with me?” she asks
    arms outstretched.
    I smile and cuddle close.

    • This is beautiful Meg. Thanks for sharing this 🙂 It reminds me of a similar story from The Velveteen Rabbit which I refer to often when talking about leaning into softness and accepting all of ourselves.

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