For as long as I can remember, and specifically as an adult, I’ve been able to take a lot on my plate. I think I get this intricate balancing method from my dad who was the sole provider for my family of six, while holding a vice president role at his company, completing marathons, and gaining a masters and plethora of other degrees. I too enjoy taking classes, hanging out with friends, traveling, working out daily, eating healthy by cooking most of my meals, reading, and working hard to climb the ladder.
People often compliment me on being able to “do it all,” labeling me as “superwoman.” Prior to the pandemic, I too took this as a compliment, seeing it as a positive — responding with a thank you anytime I heard it. But recently, with the pressures of working from home while trying to reconnect with my family, train for a marathon, remodel our house, and find alone time — I feel like most days, I am scrambling to keep it all together.
When you are constantly told you are a certain way, eventually it seeps in and you believe it. It becomes part of your identity. Each task I took on throughout the pandemic thus far, has slowly depleted more and more of my energy. It’s becoming confusing to hear people compliment me for being a superwoman, when the work I’m committing myself to is impacting my mental health. I’m not sleeping well, or eating properly because I’m not making time for it.
Stating someone is a superhuman means they are living beyond human capacity, it means they are on a different level. This is problematic because when you do take on so many things, a lot of the time the internal experience isn’t positive. It becomes difficult to see that as a compliment, and blinding to take on that trait when all you want to do is give up — you end up thinking you should be able to do all the things, all at once. Which in turn, becomes a sick cycle of pressure to do even more.
When you’re complimented for this trait, it becomes “out of character” to then ask for help. You become paralyzed to share feelings of burnout with close friends and family, and instead hunker down and attempt to continue with the same volume, if not more — to fulfill this personality trait.
In America, we’re accustomed to celebrating overworking. A single parent works 80 hours and still manages to make their child’s dance recital and they are seen as a saint and get a pat on the back. My hope is that the pandemic will help everyone to normalize rest, pace themselves and grant themselves grace when they don’t move at the speed they are supposed too.