Pressure to Self-actualize

By Wednesday, April 1, 2020 0 No tags Permalink 0

I saw something on a friend’s Instagram story….

But first of all, can we all agree that the best thing to come out of the quarantine is the humor from some hilariously ingenious people? Y’all, our fellow quarantiners are creative and crazy, and it’s nothing short of amazing. I must admit I’m a little sick of all the Tiger King references, but don’t even get me started on that! People are crushing it with their songs and videos and memes right now. Check out Trey Kennedy, Southern Mama, and The Holderness Family for starters.

quarantine goals

Upon first seeing this, I immediately went to show it to Shaun. We fist bump at least three times a day about our life choices. Always have, but we feel especially blessed during the quarantine. I also promptly sent it to my child-free friends, and we enjoyed some exchanges about how lucky we feel.

It’s so nice to wake up when you want to wake up, ease into your day with lattes and casseroles (yes, I have made quarantine casseroles!), live-stream a workout or five (no, I’m not doing them all, I’m just watching them for fun!), attend to Logan’s basic needs- potty and eat- before he’s fast asleep again, do a little writing or reading, start the afternoon happy hour whenever we’re ready, watch some Schitt’s Creek or Ozark, and try to get in bed at a decent time. Oh, and I left out the meals and snacks and meal planning and more snacking. Shout out to Shaun and others who are working all day, every day. Even though I lost mine, I do realize people are still producing and contributing at their jobs.

It’s an embarrassingly cushy day. But some questions do arise: Should I try a new skin care routine? Should I finally start writing the outline for my book? How do I learn these TikTok dance challenges? How can I make my workout hairdo cuter? Prosecco or wine? Is there any good lounge wear on sale? Should I buy a new workout outfit even though I’m unemployed? (some questions have more obvious answers)

It may not seem possible but the day quickly gets away from you. You blink and it’s mid-morning. You eat twelve times and it’s late afternoon. And then Netflix sucks you in til way past your non-existent bedtime. It’s a bizarre, non-scheduled, non-routine kind of life.

ashley cates

pets in quarantine

But back to the IG story. I saw where it originated, and I went to that account. There was a really thoughtful post dedicated to it, highlighting the challenges working parents are faced with during this time of 24/7 togetherness. Feelings of inadequacy around how to teach when you aren’t a teacher, while keeping kids fed and loved and occupied, while also trying to deal with all the feelings of uncertainty this situation has created. The post then offers some comforting advice and support for parents.

Along these lines, I was recently talking to a friend who’s a new mom, and she shared that she was having some issues with keeping her milk supply coming in (obviously I don’t know the proper breastfeeding terminology), and she posted in a Facebook group, and within minutes nineteen people jumped at the opportunity to give her advice, words of encouragement, and general support. There are several thousand people in this group, by the way.

This conversation and the post reminded me of something I’ve always wanted to explore- support groups. New moms get a lot of support from fellow moms, as of course they should! And despite all the horrible mom-shaming my friends have told me about, there is also so much support and so many answers to almost every question from how to swaddle your baby to how to best save for baby’s college to which stroller is best for jogging moms. It’s understandable and respectable to be overwhelmed as a mom, and it’s acceptable to reach out for help- to your parents, to other moms, to anyone who can relate.

But y’all, who supports the child-free people? Or the empty-nesters? The people who aren’t focused on raising human kids. Where can we go to say things such as: I’m guilty that I can’t seem to get my creative juices to flow. I’m feeling inadequate because I am getting nowhere with my book outline. I should be doing more/ giving more/ working more because I have the time and energy to do so. What’s my excuse? I don’t have kids to home school. I don’t have diapers to change, bottles to clean, or fights to break up. I don’t have people to feed who may or may not go down for their naps. I don’t have to re-learn geometry or calculus (thank God). I don’t have anyone else to worry about, so what’s my problem?

This is not a new phenomenon, but especially during the quarantine, I feel a constant internal pressure to self-actualize. Abraham Maslow describes self actualization as “a person who is living creatively and fully using his or her potential.” Yikes. Fully using her potential. Well, I feel 100% certain I should be fluent in Italian at this point. I should have grown my fitness community and be further along with my book. I should have started a non-profit. I should be reading more. I should be doing more. More more more. Whatever that means. I simply know I should be doing more. I’m wise enough to know I’m not using my full potential. And I’m overwhelmed and maybe a little ashamed by that. And I would like a little non-judgmental support.

So tell me- Are you a non-mom or a mom with older kids (at home or on their own) who sometimes feels the pressure to do it all? To create and evolve and self-actualize? Do you think you need something to show for your time in quarantine and in general? Do you feel like the possibilities of your day, your week, and your life are endless, but yet this makes you feel somehow more overwhelmed than empowered? Are you seeking a little support from people who understand what it’s like to not have this non-motherhood life figured out?  How do you work through these feelings? Have you come up with any ideas to work through the guilt and anxiety that I’m sure seems silly to many?

I’d love to hear your ideas? I’d love to start a group. I’m technologically challenged, yet I’m sure if we figure out the right platform, we can make it happen. I am really looking forward to connecting with you during and after quarantine!


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