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Why it’s totally OK to feel overwhelmed sometimes

Last week was the worst kind of ick. After some dude told me during a business meeting, If you lost a little weight, you could be a super model” and finding out an article I’ve been tenderly working on for an upcoming issue of the paper I work for had several set backs, I was feeling defeated. I didn’t like my hair. I didn’t like my writing. I didn’t like much of anything. I felt wounded and anxious. Of course, this made me more irritable and defensive at home. I knew I wasn’t being the type of partner I wanted to be for my partner, and as a result I felt even more defeated. Things just weren’t working, and I was starting to breathe heavy and contemplate what’s so wrong with me that I have so many conflicts right now. What am I doing wrong?

Sometimes life is just really freaking hard. It’s hard because the inherent human desire to be understood and thrive is a delicate tightrope walk of trying to make the right choices to get you to where you want to be, and honestly, when things are murky and you’re feeling overwhelmed, it isn’t always easy to make good choices. Admittedly, when I feel overwhelmed the first thing I want to do is pour a glass of wine and watch as many true crime documentary series as possible. And a lot of times, I do. But Malbec and Forensic Files will only get a girl so far, and eventually, as we grow, we need to find healthy ways to soothe our wounded hearts, become the warrior princesses we have always been and move forward.

We have so many things happening in our lives, and in a culture that really encourages rush-rush lifestyles, it’s no wonder so many of us feel overwhelmed so often. Our little beating hearts can only keep up with so many setbacks, interruptions and distractions before we want to scream and disappear. And guess what? That’s fine. It’s OK to feel crappy about crappy things. It’s OK to feel overwhelmed and anxious. It’s OK to feel.

So often I find myself judging how I’m feeling. If I’m feeling sad about something that “shouldn’t be that big of a deal” I’ll find myself doubling my blues by judging myself for feeling sad about something I “shouldn’t” let bother me. I slow myself down by harshly criticizing how my heart and mind process things. What would happen if I just let myself feel the things I needed to feel, and then let it go? What would happen if I just cried as much as I wanted to and then started working on a solution to my conflict? How much time have I wasted trying to pretend I’m not overwhelmed, when I am absolutely totally overwhelmed? And how much of my feelings over being overwhelmed are attributed to things I have absolutely no control over (see rude people who make comments about women’s bodies during business meetings.)

If you feel overwhelmed, feel it. If you need to lock yourself in the bathroom and cry, do it. And once you’ve given yourself permission to bravely feel your feelings you’ll be surprised how much energy self-validation offers you. Last week I finally broke down crying in the middle of dinner with my BFF and fiancé. Total public meltdown. Embarrassing? A little. But afterwards I felt SO much better. I finally surrendered to feeling overwhelmed, stopped pretending to be super-woman and owned my feelings. And the simple act of letting it out, helped me go from feeling like a mud puddle to feeling like a brave, capable woman who could advocate for herself and work through the trenches of a crappy week. And I did!

I addressed, with the help of my colleagues, the sexist remark. I looked at the article setback differently, this time seeing all of the benefits to having more time to work on it. And the added confidence of getting back up after falling down, helped me take care of and love my partner in the ways I wanted to.

We are always going to shuffle into the tides of feeling overwhelmed, and if we didn’t ever feel overwhelmed that would be really weird, because any living human trying to do anything at all, eventually feels overwhelmed at some point. Just be yourself. And feel what you need to feel. And don’t worry about if you’re being too sensitive, or if you’re crazy— you’re not. Life is hard, and it’s okay to get a little blue sometimes.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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