July 29, 2022

A Quote that keeps me from Drowning in my Overwhelm.


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I feel like I’m drowning.

And as someone who can’t swim (which is a story for another time…), I am intimately acquainted with the feeling.

But this current sensation of going under has nothing to do with large bodies of water.

I feel like I’m drowning under the weight of change. Too much change. Of responsibility and pressure and a little bit of guilt. Of sadness and disappointment and loss.

I’m drowning in my own overwhelm.

Life here at Elephant is changing rapidly and in roughly a week I will have to say goodbye to a huge chunk of our Editorial team. To people who I consider family. To people who have made working at Elephant feel less like work and more like purpose, community, and everyday joy. I miss them already, and they’re not even gone.

But along with missing them, I’m overwhelmed about the weight that’s now on my shoulders. The weight of a bigger workload. The weight of grieving the way things used to be. The weight of knowing I still have a job when others don’t. The weight of needing to keep pushing forward. The weight of worrying that it won’t be enough. The weight of uncertainty.

And I’m disappointed. Disappointed that I—we—couldn’t do more to stop or slow this change (although I know how hard we all fought). Disappointed that this is our reality.

Last night, while putting away some clothes, I glanced at the vision board I made about two years ago that hangs on the wall of my closet. To be honest, I rarely pay attention to it most days, but this time my eyes stopped on one specific quote.

I don’t know who said it, as it was a pull-out quote cut from a magazine, but after a long, sad, stressful week, it was exactly what I needed to combat the overwhelm:

“Never waste a good crisis—learn from it.”

The truth is, I’m scared. I cry almost every day. I struggle with anxiety so the loss and uncertainty has led to pretty aggressive bouts of catastrophizing. It definitely feels like I’m in crisis mode.

But I also know that I’ve been here before. I’ve faced enormous change head-on and lived to tell the tale. I’ve reinvented myself and my life and my work and landed on my feet (not always on the first try, but eventually).

So I remind myself that the only way to keep from drowning is to relax into this reality instead of trying to fight against it. To accept the crisis and learn from it.

And when that gets hard, which it inevitably will, I’ll come back to these tips from Elephant readers on how to deal with overwhelm and disappointment:

“Let the tears fall when they come…it’s the tears we don’t cry that drown us.” ~ Debbie

“Consume chocolate. Walk. Consume more chocolate…” ~ Peggy

“It has taken time and so much strength. I swallow a couple of times…recognize that I am feeling horrid (you choose the descriptive word). I take many breaths slowly…I really take my time in thinking about why this feels horrid. If I cannot come up with answers to this question, I wait…I realize that I am worth waiting for and the first person that should recognize and honour that is me.” ~ Barbara

“Meditate and try to get into the moment. Reward yourself with warm comfort. Know that this moment is the start of a new future.” ~ Elizabeth

“Crying. Naps. Crying some more. Then getting in the ocean or in to nature, and starting again.” ~ Lisa

“I acknowledge I am overwhelmed and/or disappointed to the air, to someone, to people who I think can help, to those who fail to help. I do not pretend or sugarcoat. Then I consider my options for change; is it my responsibility? I get moving in another direction and deprioritize. Then get back at it. I grew up with ‘if it is to be, it is up to me.'” ~ Angelique

“Allow yourself time to mourn even small disappointment rather than trying to hold onto ‘what ifs.'” ~ Matthew

“Everything is just one thing. Deal with it one thing at a time.” ~ Trish

Solitude. Collect yourself and get back up.” ~ Maria

“Lists! If overwhelmed I make a list of everything that is needing to be done and just tackle one thing at a time, then cross it off when done. Disappointed, make a list of everything that you are grateful for. Even if it’s just small things, like I was able to feed myself and kids today. I have shoes on my feet. I have a good friend. Just anything you can say that can make you look at the list and realize you are not as bad off as you think.” ~ Heather

“Dogs. Always pet the dogs.” ~ Virginia

“Singing at the top of my lungs while I dance to celebrate my crazy little self and remind myself I am awesome and I am gonna make it.” ~ Andrea

“Do exactly what your gut tells you. Seek people, go be alone for hours, eat, don’t eat. Cry, run, go someplace you never went before. You’ll know…” ~ Debra


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