It’s pouring, I tell y’all. Pouring! A tempest. A typhoon. A piney-woods tidal wave with impressive lightning bolts and thunder which both crashes and growls. Something’s angered the gods and boy howdy they’re letting us know. The ducks are loving it but the donkeys, not so much.
I’ve microwaved a cup of coffee from yesterday’s unfinished pot (a brew practice for which I’ve been heavily criticized by many folks but hey, you do what you do) and have turned off all the lights so I can watch the lightning like fireworks. This is one of those storms you see in movies. I half expect a terrifying figure in either a trench coat or tattered, victorian dress to appear out beyond the garden—a spooky someone here to collect my soul or something.
It’s 6:30ish in the morning and although I remain on the couch with my trembling dogs and my mismatched jammies, I have this urge in my gut to hop up, open my laptop, and begin the work day. When I say urge, I mean serious urge that’s not just a mental feeling, but also a physical one. On the other hand, this is one of those moments: a perfect storm, a flashing, gray room and sweet dogs who equate my closeness with their safety. This contrast of feelings: the obligation to begin work right away and the allowance of myself to have a moment of peace is puzzling. I feel both guilty and silly. Also stressed, confused, self-conscious, and pressured. In no time, there’s a storm inside me rivaling the one out there.
I close my eyes, let out a long breath, and relax my shoulders. Boundaries dear girl, I tell myself, Boundaries.
Here’s what I mean by boundaries (to name a few):
- If you’re working from home, please remember that you’re working from home, not living at work. It is crucial that you set business/operating hours.
- Set routines (even small ones) and abide by them. Maybe that’s just doing a 20-minute stretch followed by day old coffee in the morning before you open your phone and inevitably be flooded with notifications and saddened by the news. Those things can wait, I promise.
- Set boundaries in relationships. You are not responsible for anyone’s happiness no matter how much someone might be trying to convince you as such. You can be a good friend, partner, listener, advocate, supporter, and champion for people but you are not responsible for their feelings. Ever. Full stop.
- Holly Whitaker said it best: “Know what you can f*ck with.” This has been a game-changing practice for me. When you know what works and what doesn’t work for you, you can set boundaries to both respect yourself and the expectations of others. Let me give you an example: I have anxiety & OCD which is heavily connected to my hard-wired impulse to be a people-pleaser. As such, I’ve spent so much time doing things and making choices based on what I thought would make others happy. Eventually, I found myself in an empty shell devoid of any knowledge about what I want. Then my anxiety would spiral and my compulsive rituals would intensify. So. Take the time to what you can f*ck with. That’ll help you find a good base from which you can build solid boundaries (and maybe help with your mental health).
(Quick pit stop: I have an ask. Please stop saying things like, “oh, that’s my OCD kicking in” when you’re talking about wanting things to be tidy, organized, or look right. OCD doesn’t “kick in.” OCD just is. It always is. Also, anxiety is not a mood nor is it just being worrisome. It’s often far bigger and far uglier than that. You can’t just “not worry” or “chill out.” It’s insulting to simplify mental health like this and I’d ask that you please be mindful about throwing around these terms in jest)
- Finally, set some self love boundaries. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Keeping your internal dialogue in check. How are you making your own self feel?
- Feeling no guilt when indulging yourself in your guilty pleasures. (For me, that’s binging The Great British Baking Show on Netflix while eating too much of my own badass bread bakes).
- Don’t sacrifice your own comfort for someone else’s.
- If there are people or relationships in your life that make you feel small, worthless, self-conscious, and/or sub-par, draw a line. There is never, ever an acceptable reason to berate, belittle, harass, or abuse someone. In order to draw that line and feel confident in removing those people from your life, you must realize that you deserve that line. You do. I promise.
I have many, many more thoughts on boundaries which continue to change as I continue to explore and understand them. It’s why I go off on soap-boxes about the toxicity of false-positivity and the absurdity of unreachable expectations society puts on us (especially as women). And if you’d like, I’d be happy to share more of those thoughts as I learn to put them into words.
For now, I look at the clock again. 7:00am. My workday from home begins at 8am (no sooner) and until then, my phone will stay plugged into the charger, on silent, in the bedroom so I can watch a storm, protect my dogs, and sip my shitty coffee.