A Midlife Crisis - Yes, a Midlife Crisis at the Age of 22
It's been a hot second since I've last posted and I'm super sorry! Just like everyone else, my life has been crazy lately and so I've put the blog on hold. But I'm starting to write in hopes that I can get realigned and back into Nutritious Nursing.
The past year been the fastest (yet slowest?), craziest, busiest time I think I've ever experienced! So much change has been happening and I feel like my world has taken a full 180.
Click here to skip the boring stuff and go to the AHA moment.
Without boring you with the details, the beginning of 2020 was the start of this whole "chapter" in my life. I experienced unexpected death, moving into someone else's home, taking care of two young girls, and assumed responsibilities of keeping up a house, grocery shopping, cooking dinner each night, and transporting the girls to school as well as extra-curricular activities. I commuted an hour to school several days a week, had nursing clinicals, plus (of course) the never-ending required studying for nursing exams. I had responsibilities in the church, as well as attended other groups and classes throughout the week. Then COVID hit, where public schools as well as all colleges, went to online learning. I had to balance the girls' schoolwork with my own. I worked two jobs--as a nurse intern in a hospital and was a CNA in a dementia/memory care nursing home part time. I was running on steam, and I knew it.
All in all, I was overworked and tired. I was pulled in every which direction and stretched thin. I was sleeping 4-6 hours each night and was non-stop moving during the day. Ultimately—6 months later—I was mentally depleted, unable to take care of MY needs, and thus leaving a 7-year relationship. And this period of time, was the deep, downhill valley of my midlife crisis.
So, this post is for those of you who supported me through this tough time, and also those who did NOT support me. I give thanks to those of you who gave me grace, love, advice, and a safe place to rest my mind, and I give respect to those of you who blame me for the situation. And for those of you who don't know me or my story, I write this to give you an insight on balance and boundaries, in hopes that you avoid a potential crisis.
After the unprecedented events of early 2020, I moved back home and… slept. A lot. There were a couple months of mental reset, where Mom took care of me again. I didn't have any responsibilities. I was just—there. I just existed. And I needed this rest and reset.
The Fall semester of my senior year was still tough, as I was navigating my new life. I then met Chase, and on February 12th, my midlife crisis ended. I woke up that morning, and had an 'AHA moment' where I just realized - "My midlife crisis is over!" I can't really explain that feeling.
Speed forward to May of 2021, I graduated with my Bachelors in the Science of Nursing. I accepted a job in the NICU at the University of Kentucky Hospital (and then later changed to Mother/Baby at Fort Sanders), found an apartment and ultimately moved to Knoxville with Chase. Mentally, I flipped the page and realized I had started the next chapter in the book of my life.
And that's the recap of my midlife crisis, at the age of 22.
So what happened? Yeah, a bunch of crappy "stuff" happened, all at once. But, what happened?
Here's what happened. I had another mental AHA moment: I keep referring to this time in my life as having 'too much on my plate.' And suddenly, I realized the visual of actually 'having too much on my plate.'
There was too much on my plate. My. Plate. Was. Too. Full.
Here's my mental capacity plate. (Yes, a Dixie-mental-capacity-paper-plate.)
And here's what my mental-capacity-paper-plate can physically hold. It can fit four post-it notes… aka responsibilities/aspects of life.
And here's what it actually held. Seven post-it notes. And they don't all fit. So what happens next? A midlife-crisis, a mental breakdown. I had to get rid of some of those post-its.
I quit the intern job. I moved back home and stopped taking care of the girls, stopped taking care of the household responsibilities. I stopped going to the church I was a member of. And my 7 1/2 year relationship ended.
And mentally, I collapsed. I couldn't handle it anymore. My mental capacity plate got smaller. It went from a full-size dinner plate to a smaller dessert plate. Only two post-it notes fit on this one.
The smaller plate represents where I was mentally. I couldn't handle the entire seven post-it notes for very long, and my mental capacity went from 4, down to 2. The only things I could mentally handle were my nursing school responsibilities and my job at the nursing home. The rest of the post-it notes (aka my responsibilities and different aspects of my life), more or less got tossed aside. Even though it wasn't what I WANTED, those other aspects got tossed in the trash.
The ultimate lesson learned here -
Don't put 7 post-it notes on your plate, when you know it can only hold 4. And if you do, your capacity is going to go down to 2. Putting more on your plate that you can handle, doesn't make your capacity larger. It might in the meantime, but ultimately you're going to crash and revert back to an even smaller plate.
I hope this makes sense. It makes sense in my head, haha.
I lost a lot in this time. I genuinely enjoyed my responsibilities of taking care of kids, participating and serving in the church. I enjoyed and benefitted from my romantic relationship at that time. But I didn't get to choose which post-it notes stayed. It just happened.
Now - the end of 2021
Now, I'm more conscious of what I put on my plate--I have to be. I want to keep the aspects of my life that I enjoy. And I know, that if I overload my plate, I might lose these things. And the sad thing about overloading yourself and ultimately losing things that you enjoy, is that you don't get to choose which of these aspects you get to keep. You hit rock bottom and life decides for you.
If you're like me, and you don't like change, you struggle to say no, you struggle to prioritize your needs over others', then you need to be conscious of what's on your plate.
How much can your mental capacity hold? How many post-it notes can fit on your plate, and how many are on there right now? What can you say "No" to, and what boundaries do you need to set?
All in all, my midlife crisis has changed me and my perspective on life. I've learned a lot and matured on my ways of thinking. I grieve the things I've lost, but face the reality of what happened. I've found my new life and joy in the blessings I've been given. I can't thank my family and friends enough for the support they've given me in this time.
Until next time,