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Overwhelmed By Choice

18 October 2010 20 Comments

I lost a schedule and the rest of my life began to follow.

I sat in the middle of a pile of clothes yesterday, on the verge of tears.  A new diet and walking everywhere and more yoga have all merged together nicely to start a quest towards toning up and slimming down.  Which is great, except I’m now one of those “I have nothing to wear” people who has an entire walk-in closet full of clothing but nervous breakdowns trying to get dressed, because nothing seems to fit quite right.

So I sleep on my couch so I don’t have to look at it.

This fall I’ve been on a boy-crazy tear that rivals my 9th grade dating spree in which I cleared a good dozen boyfriends in less than ten months before settling on my high school sweetheart for three-and-a-half years.  But since September I’ve had crushes on the brother of a friend – the new blogger I met – the boy from Twitter – the boy at the bookstore – the online profile – the son of the bar owner – the boy at the networking event – shall I go on?  I see my friends both internally and externally rolling their eyes and painfully exhaling as I go on a new giggling oblivious description of my latest encounter.

And I silently pine and flit from crush to crush, never doing anything to pursue them.

Most distressing is the half-finished work I have laying around.  My apartment that is still mostly boxed and completely unlivable and unworkable.  I have three articles for various sites and publications that PAY ME to write, half finished in drafts of .odt files.  I have an inbox of no less than 25 emails that have been ignored and are getting painfully time sensitive in their replies.  I have two PR clients with massive projects coming up in November and a non-profit that is passionate about their cause but have very little understanding of the analytical logistics of a campaign.  I have a barely started professional website with a paid-for theme that mocks me with their email updates.  And I stare at my Firefox window with 5 open tabs for new writing/social media/bar guide reviewer jobs I’m pitching.

But I write this blog post rather than doing any of it.

As I sat in my apartment last night, working on one of the articles, I realized that I have become one of those half-finished indecisive fragile-minded individuals, questioning and procrastinating nearly everything I do.  And it’s like the rare occasions I get dragged into the Super Wal-Mart and almost need to take a Xanax upon entry because I am so overwhelmed.

Much of the stress I see in both my own and others’ lives seems to come from an abundance of options and choices rather than a lack thereof.  It’s how the location independents and lifestyle designers garner such followings, because they have somehow mastered pieces of this over-consumption addiction that secretly eats away at our sanity.

One of the workshops I did on Being The Author Of Your Own Life involved a soccer mom of 5 children who was completely drowning in her life.  When she created the ideal setting for her story, she chose a little mud-hut in some small remote African village.

In the second half of the workshop (the life-application part) she realized that not only could she not bring her large family to live in the mud-hut, but in reality she wouldn’t want to.  What she DID want was the simplicity.  The minimalism.  The freedom from over-consumption that the mud-hut represented in her mind.

I think I want a mud-hut, too.

Photo Credit: Getty Images – Henrik Sorenson

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  • http://exilelifestyle.com Colin Wright

    Sorry to hear that things are piling up like that, but I’ll tell you what I do when I’m in a similar situation: the dishes.

    Or something like the dishes, anyway (I don’t really have dishes here in Bangkok, so that example falls flat for the past month and a half, but GENERALLY the dishes are my go-to).

    What it sounds like is that you’ve got a lot on your plate and are missing the feeling of accomplishment that comes from finishing anything. The feeling is different depending on what it is you’ve gotten done, but if you get just a little bit, the taste can get your motor going and you’ll fly off to knock everything off your to-do list in just a few days.

    I’d say find something simple that you need to do and just DO it. Don’t think about it. Don’t add it to the list. Just do it right now and get it done and out of the way.

    This will create momentum and will make the next thing even easier. Hop to all the other little things and finish them up, then move on to something bigger. Scale and scale and scale and eventually you’ll find yourself with an empty to-do list.

    The only downside is that when you’re done, you feel a little bored and need to fill the space with something, so you seek out new projects and such (this is what happens to me ALL THE TIME). If you can cope with that, then give it a shot!

    Good luck!

    • http://www.opheliaswebb.com Elisa Doucette

      Colin – Nah, the feeling of accomplishment is so far from my current state of mind that it barely even registers.

      Right now I’m on some sort of weird sensory overload, with too many choices that keep piling up. Sure, some of it is urgent/pressing “to-do” type stuff, but other stuff is just every day choices that seem to get harder and harder with more options.

      But seriously, how did you know I desperately need to do my dishes as well? :)

  • http://www.theunconventionalgeek.com Elizabeth

    Elisa,
    I am far too familiar with all of this. I hate when I become that fragile person who is stressed, cries at anything and everything, and feels just like a big giant mess.

    May I suggest taking a day to yourself to recoup and get grounded again? I know you have a billion and one things to do but it might just be worth losing a day over. I always enjoy going to the beach for a “me” day. When you get back, just take things one step at a time! I always find it hard to work in a cluttered/messy/chaotic area so maybe start there.

    Chin up :) <3

    -Elizabeth
    @_happygolucky_

    • http://www.opheliaswebb.com Elisa Doucette

      Elizabeth – Absolutely great advice. I’m going to get comfy with a bubble bath and relaxation. It’s like the energy bar on the old Nintendo Legend of Zelda game (did I just totally out-geek myself?!) If you keep going and going, never giving yourself the opportunity to recharge that energy bar, you will die just the same way as if one of the ghosts or goblins attacks.

      And when they attack (cause goodness knows they do!) you have no energy left to fight them.

  • http://speaksoftlyandcarryaredpen.wordpress.com mehnaz

    Ugh, been there, done that, feel the pain.

    I say: stop thinking and start with something small. I have about a dozen emails in my inbox that currently need answering to, and I’m commenting on this post. My plan is to answer one of those emails, and then another, and then another, but I’m not thinking about the whole dozen or I’ll drown too.

    I agree with Colin, and would also like to add, don’t get beyond doing something simple. Break it all down…

    • http://www.opheliaswebb.com Elisa Doucette

      Mehnaz – Yeah, the breaking down of to-do’s is coming. Along with a serious evaluation and exploration into ways to simplify some of the things happening in my life.

      For example, if I didn’t have over 100 tops to choose from, would I need to try on 20 to get out of the house? Or if I just let a boy know I was interested and actually tried dating him would I be like a 14-year-old-teenager in puppy love? Or if I just finished an article before pitching 5 more would I not have 20 backed up assignments?

      In theory I get how it should work. In practice, not so much. For me it isn’t about doing more or doing it more streamlined, but figuring out how to do more with less.

  • http://theoffbeatreport.com Lauren

    Oh, sister. Man, can I relate. I was there about a month ago, and let me tell you, it DOES get better. I now have purchased new pants (that fit and are a size I haven’t been since high school), the boys are starting to come to me (whether I like it or not), and every decision I made to weed through the abundance of choices have all been the RIGHT ones (and if they haven’t been, the other choice was still there for the taking). Be patient and don’t be afraid to make a decision! Decisiveness makes you feel in control and so powerful!!

    Infinite hugs from me, dear. :)

    XOXO

    • http://www.opheliaswebb.com Elisa Doucette

      Lauren – Yes! Precisely! It sucks cause I love everything about freelancing except for how “free” my life has become. I used to be great at decisions. I want that back. I want my mud-hut! :)

      I still see the light at the end of the tunnel, so I know it’s there and that makes me happy. Just need to get to it! And congratulations to you dear! You are looking fantastic, not just physically but so happy in pics and whatnot. I love it!!

      Can’t wait to free up time to chat and work with you!

  • http://www.minimize2elevate.com Eric LaForest

    Oh girl- I feel ya on the too many tops!

    Seriously, If you figure out how to manage that workload without over stressing and sinking into procrastination, let me know.

    That was a riddle I had spent a better part of 10 years trying to solve. All it got me was poor health and an apathetic attitude.

    I understand my limitations now (especially my short attention span) and how having multiple options is not necessarily a good thing for me.

    Good luck and great post!

    Now where’s my mud-hut and beer…

    • http://www.opheliaswebb.com Elisa Doucette

      Eric – Yes, I think I’m the same sort of thinker. Too many options are just too much for me! And the more choices the worse I get at making decisions. Down to sock and cereal choices!

      I hope I shake this before a decade…congrats on getting there yourself, horribly sad if you ended up feeling like I have for ten years straight. 30 days has been enough for me!

      Mud hut & beer definitely sounds good right now!

  • Amy

    I’m sure we could fit a mud hut in the back parking lot somewhere :) I can bring you beer and Doritos anytime you want! I’m sorry you are so stressed and overwhelmed. I don’t think there’s much advice I can give you to make you feel better. You just have to get out of this little rut/ditch to feel better. I can tell you that everyone goes through it. When I took on teaching I thought my head was going to explode. But things got better because I had peeps like you around ready to catch the flying head pieces :) I love you Paco and hope it all gets better!

    • http://www.opheliaswebb.com Elisa Doucette

      Amy – Exactly as you mentioned, it’s a rut that I’ll find my way out of. Making decisions, small as they may be, that help to eliminate too many options. Hanging a shelf, throwing out clothes, focusing on one boy, finishing an article…it all helps.

      So do bubble baths and peanut butter whoopie pies :)

  • http://chelseatalkssmack.blogspot.com/ Chelsea Talks Smack

    DID I WRITE THIS? YEAH. I THINK I DID, THATS HOW MUCH I RELATE. BUT I WOULDNT HAVE REMEMBER EVEN IF I HAD, BECAUSE IM SUCH A HOT MESS OF HALF-FINISHED-HALF-DECIDED SHIT. UGH. SIGH. IM GOING TO BUILD A MUD HUT. WANNA COME VISIT?

    • http://www.opheliaswebb.com Elisa Doucette

      Chelsea – Haha, I only wish that I had my shit together enough to be a hot mess! Today is much better, and I’m confident (well, really REALLY hopeful) tha tomorrow will be even better.

      Though if it goes backwards, yes I’m moving to your hut and letting you make all my decisions and I’ll make all yours! :)

  • http://nicoleisbetter.com nicole antoinette

    I would come and have a sleepover in this mud-hut. Minimalism – what the hell IS that and how do I get it?

    Wonderful post, seriously.

    • http://www.opheliaswebb.com Elisa Doucette

      Nicole – Minimalism is a buzz wod that makes people thousands of millions of dollars. Definitely wouldn’t mind having some of it in my life though.

      I personally like “having less shit and less stuff to do” but I don’t think it will catch on the same way. :)

  • http://www.alifeintranslation.com Jamie

    I have nothing to add except: TOOK THE WORDS RIGHT OUT OF MY MOUTH.

  • Paul

    How about – CUT THE CRAP AND GET ORGANIZED!!! Seriously, if there is anything we can do to help, let us know. We may be in your area on Saturday, so if you would like us to come help you unpack, we would be than happy to. At least that task would be done.
    Love you. Pdiddy.

    • http://www.opheliaswebb.com Elisa Doucette

      PDiddy – Ouch, that was hurtful! :)

      Hoping to have everything done this week, but if I still have stuff I’d love your help

  • Paul

    I was not trying to be hurtful – just sounding like a parent. Really was meant as an offer of assistance. Love you and know you will be fine. Must be a week of down-ness. A friend posted on FB that she was down and I was the same way last night. Nothing wrong, just in a down mood.