Emotional Work Travel

Day 530 and Social Burnout

The week or two before I attended Consensus in Austin I could barely talk about anything else I was so excited. But I’ve barely said anything about the actual experience after the fact I feel so burnt out from the social exertion.

A friend of mine was a little hurt I didn’t tell them anything about my experience. They pointed out that it was a bit like watching a movie as it built up to the narrative climatic scenes and having it cut straight to credits. They were invested in my trip and then I didn’t do anything to tie up the story.

And boy did I have a negative reaction to that. I felt like absolute shit. How dare they feel like they were entitled to hearing about my life on a timeline that would make sense to them. I waffled between anger and shame. I apologized. I thought I’d made them feel shitty by not sharing. Maybe I did owe them a narrative as it was happening.

I went into some of my core childhood fears. Was I actually being withholding and deliberately creating distance because I felt I had violated my boundaries by over socializing? Probably! But also my friend kindly realized I was freaking out said “chill bitch I’m kidding tell me when you are up to it.” And then the relief flooded my body. I could just say no and my loved ones would understand.

I am feeling so burnt out being being around people I spent the morning debating if I should use my energy on a shower or save it up for a doctors appointment. Which is clearly a stupid and chaotic other/or agenda I shouldn’t engage in. If driving to an appointment that is supposed to be restorative for my health is so overwhelming energetically that I am not showering I probably should go.

I suspect I’m going to need a few days with substantially lower social engagement to recover. If I’m ignoring you it’s because I quite simply can’t be productive in a conversation with you without compromising my own boundaries. I appreciate everyone’s understanding.

Emotional Work Internet Culture

Day 208 and Boundaries

It’s fairly common to struggle with boundaries. The desire to come through for everyone is strong, but not half so strong as the fear that if you set a firm boundary, then no one will accept you for where you are and what you want. What if love is only ever available on someone else’s term? This is a terrible fear straight from our inner child.

We’ve turned loyalty into a obligation test. But how perverse is that? “If you love them, set it free” is a culturally touchstone for a reason. We want the freedom of choosing our the loyalty that works for us. And we know each demonstration of loyalty means nothing if it wasn’t in consideration of the other person’s boundaries, needs and desires.

I suppose this hit me today because I’ve been astonished to see athletes like Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles holding their boundaries firm. They loyalty to sports, their countries and to us as fans only matters if it’s given freely and with joy. They owe us nothing, so when they do perform as their most elite selves, it’s what’s most beautiful and courageous thing. It’s a feat without ego. Those victories come in freedom.

Prioritizing one’s boundaries and well-being doesn’t need any apology or explanations or attempts to change yourself to fit another, if someone requires obligation on their terms it’s natural to feel invaded.

It’s the most loving thing in the world to set out what you actually want and need. It’s always the right thing to do. We don’t own each other. We each get to choose what’s best for us. And that fear we won’t be loved if we stand firm? Let it go. We always feel safest and most cared for when we know what we are offering is genuinely wanted.