A Midsummer Exercise in Frustration

This morning has warning signals all over it.

I took my morning medication and realized it was already Wednesday.

I saw a friend’s post that today is his first day back to school.

I saw that the carpets need vacuumed, the sugar bowl is nearly empty (and we didn’t remember to get sugar at the store last night), the piles of laundry that need folded and put away.

I got two emails from the library about soon-due library books for both me (and I’m not done with them yet!) and the kid (the ones he can’t find…).

The calendar says July, but I see it will flip over to August before the end of the week.

I’ll spend my morning in my classroom where I have a zillion projects I want to finish yet before students arrive in…27 days.

Okay.

27 days…

I have this itching under my skin – the same itching that I feel when I look at my son sometimes and think how quickly he’s growing up.

It’s the feeling that time is slipping away too fast for everything I want to do.

This morning’s frustration isn’t necessarily about the piles of household chores that need done. I left those go without a twinge of guilt while I was floating in the pool yesterday or watching my son splash around or when I was paging through one of those library books last night before bed.

Summer vacation still feels like a land of limitless possibilities when it begins in June. There are plans for adventures great and small, TBR lists, goals (my Bullet Journal has FIND MORE VEGETARIAN RECIPES and ORGANIZE CLASSROOM LIBRARY and BLOG MORE on it under June and July…and probably they’ll be there in August, too), as well as home projects (UNCOVER TREADMILL, CLEAN STUDY, FINISH TRIM IN BEDROOM). To steal a line from The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I felt infinite.

This morning feels finite. This summer feels finite.

And messy.

It’s a mess of to-do lists that haven’t become ta-da.*

It’s a mess of a house.

It’s a mess of potentiality – ideas and plans that swirl in my head but don’t always come to fruition.**

And it doesn’t feel like there’s enough time to get it straightened up and straightened out to Start Fresh in only 27 days.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thankfully, I know that these feelings will pass.

(Usually in about 24 days when I decide I have to live with what I was able to accomplish and not one more whit than that…and then I’ll settle in for some R&R with my family for my last weekend of summer.)

They’ll resurface in one variation or another – usually when I see how much of anything I have to grade*** or realize that there is a yearbook deadline looming…

I know I’m not alone in all of this. The anxiety, the frustration – mourning the big, bold plans that never seem to have enough space to breath in reality.

The sense of feeling not enough. Of feeling finite.

~~~~~~~~~~

Maybe some of my frustration this morning is that I was reading this article about a rash of suicides at college campuses and the pressures of perfection. I remembered talking about this with my students whenever the ESPN story about Madison Holleran came out this spring. We talked about how frustrating and alienating it seems to see everyone else who seems to have it all together when we definitely feel like we don’t. I told them that grown-ups are not immune to this. No one had any really great ideas on how to fix the problem, but it felt better for us all to heave a collective sigh of relief just to hear that we weren’t alone in feeling this way.

But I don’t think this sensation is limited to just feeling less together than our peers online.

I have been wondering about the ways in which we censor ourselves and how that kind of skews our memories and impressions of ourselves.

20150724_143705I remembered my camp counselor taking photos last week while we were canoeing on the pond, commenting that the photos on the screen actually looked better than real life.

Better than Real Life.

I couldn’t help but get that thought out of my mind as I thought about the house I consciously show the world around me to others as I wish them to see it, carefully cultivating what gets shared and what doesn’t.

About how I would probably have to do some seriously careful staging to get a photo of the book I’m reading right now to not show whatever the dog shredded all over the floor because I’m far too tired and feeling far too overwhelmed for this hour of the day to even consider getting a vacuum cleaner to clean it up.

In fact, I could carefully package this entire post to present only the positive stuff.

But I wonder what happens if we leave out the rest of our lives in the documentation and sharing.

Do we start to get frustrated that Real Life doesn’t live up to the trail we leave behind?

Do we start to feel like our own lives don’t live up to their potential?

I’d like to think that I’m sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly, but I’m not sure that I do any more than the next person.

~~~~~~~~~~

I got to spend some time talking about psychology with a camper last week (one who is destined and determined to be a psych major when she heads off to college in another year) and I kept thinking about this idea of identity.

On our anniversary last week, I thought about how my husband and I have known each other more years than we have not and how we have spent so much of our lives growing up together.

I thought about how much we keep growing up and how our identity keeps changing.

I wonder about how much of my online life reflecting back at me affects my identity.

~~~~~~~~~~

Hours have passed since I first started this post this morning. I’ve enjoyed an afternoon nap instead of worrying about the messes and projects and possibilities I had planned because I was just tired.

Reading back on what I have here reminds me that I now have less than 27 days until school starts, but I feel a lot less stressed.

I don’t think it’s just the nap.

I think, in some ways, it’s the time I had to think this through in writing.

Maybe even the idea that I’ll hit PUBLISH on this post.

Because something tells me I’m not alone in these feelings.

~~~~~~~~~~

*I need to thank Teri Lesesne for that beautiful gem that I have adopted as my own.

**I’m so sorry, Teachers Write! friends. My “I’m all in!” excitement was drowned in “I’m so far behind!” after I missed some of the prompts while I was away. I assure you though, despite not posting or doing all the prompts, I have been writing.

***When will I learn that it’s always better to just get started than to stress about it first?

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