unnecessary guilt

So, I want to talk about guilt.

I’ve been experiencing some lately.

We just spent the last week powering through the Valentine’s Day season for Fanny &  Jane. We’re not done yet, there will still be deliveries to make in NYC over the next few days and more sweets to bake for more upcoming orders, but the bulk of our V-Day season is behind us. WHEW. The East Coast is experiencing a massive snowstorm today and Kevin and I are both very grateful to be curled up on the couch taking a momentary break right now while the snow piles up outside. We’ve been working nonstop for the last several days. It wasn’t anything close to the insanity that was the Christmas season, but it’s still been a lot.

With the increase in busy-ness for the business, for which I certainly did anticipate and plan, but for which one can never plan perfectly, I’ve had to let some other normal life things fall to the wayside. Not surprising. And really, that’s going to be the nature of this lifestyle for me for a while. There will be busy times and less busy times. There are times of each month when people wants sweets and times when sweets aren’t quite as desired. And I have to be flexible in order to respond to that demand. Sometimes I will have very little going on and I’ll be able to spend an afternoon reading a book or watching What Not To Wear. But other times, I will be so busy that I can’t make it to rehearsals or shows or I will have to cancel plans with friends or I won’t be able to sit down to eat three square meals a day because there’s just not enough time. It’s hard to learn to adjust to that reality, to learn to plan properly and give myself enough time, but it’s my reality, for better or worse, with all it’s imperfections and joys.

So this is where the guilt comes in. I’m still learning how not to feel terrifically guilty about the way my lifestyle right now might be impacting other people or other commitments I’ve made to myself.

For instance. I did not realize when I started this 30 Day Yoga Challenge that the Valentine’s Day rush would happen right at the end of it. Therefore, I’ve missed two days of my 30 Day Challenge. UGH. Of course, that’s no big deal in the grand scheme of my life. And stressing out over missing two days is exactly the opposite of what I’m hoping to achieve with the yoga challenge. NATURALLY, I’m human and it’s not surprising that this happened. I own a bakery and it’s almost Valentine’s Day. Duh. Also, I’m not a robot and I’ve never been an over-achiever. But it’s very difficult for me not to feel guilty and disappointed in myself because I can’t reconfigure time and invent a 27-hour day.

Another area in my life about which I’ve been feeling guilty is my comedy stuff. As I’ve mentioned many times, I do improv and sketch comedy four nights a week, and have been doing so for years. I love it, it’s fun and rewarding and makes me feel happy and joyful. But it’s also a big time commitment. And sometimes I can’t make it to rehearsals and sometimes, the most responsible move for my business would be for me to skip a show. I do that when I absolutely must, but I can’t do it all the time or it would be unfair to my teammates, who do the best they can to show up every week.

I certainly don’t think my life is busier or more stressful than anyone else’s. But this is all still very new to me – running this business, growing it, learning how to own a company and market a product and turn a profit. I’ve never done any of it before and it’s easily one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but ooboy I’m in deep, wonderfully, terrifyingly deep. It is hard for me not to feel guilty when my business takes over my world for two weeks and I have to cancel and skip every activity on my calendar.

For that reason, I’ve decided to take three to four months off from Harvard Sailing Team, my sketch comedy group. This was an incredibly difficult decision, since those people are my family, and since we’ve been doing shows together and seeing each other twice a week for five years. A few of us have taken several months off throughout the years to pursue other stuff, so it’s not a huge departure from the norm, but it’s still tough. I wrote them all an email last night announcing my little decision and then wondered if I’d made the right choice right after I sent the email. But the reality remains that I’m having trouble balancing it all. I’m late to rehearsals because I didn’t anticipate the hour-long line at the post office (Piece of advice? Always plan for an hour-long line at the post office.), I forget to respond to emails because I’m not on the computer as much as I used to be and stuff gets lost in the shuffle, I can’t focus quite as intently during practices and shows because I’m thinking about what I need to do for the bakery as soon as I’m done.

So it’s time to step back, take a break, and figure out how to balance this all. I know a lot of what will solve my stress is more planning ahead, determining a more realistic time frame for how long it takes, for instance, to wait in line at the post office. But I haven’t learned how to do it all yet. And I don’t see myself learning quickly if I don’t give myself some space to do so. Taking a few months off, which is really such a short period of time and is going to absolutely fly by, will be a good way to move a few items off my To Do List and clear my head space a little bit. It’s scary and hard and I’m sure I’m going to miss the hell out of it – I joked with my friend and teammate Clayton today on the phone that I’m probably going to be standing outside the window of their rehearsal room one night a month from now with my face pressed up against the glass – but I know this is a decision I’m making for my mental wellness.

It was either make this choice to take some time off, or feel guilty more often than not about my inability to do it all.

I’m not sure that guilt serves anyone. It doesn’t serve me to be upset with myself for missing two days of my yoga challenge. And it doesn’t serve me to feel badly for not being able to reconfigure the postal system so that it runs more efficiently. I am a good person and I do the best I can do. There are simply things that are out of my control. I can only pray for patience and understanding from my friends and family and, more importantly, from myself.

So that’s exactly what I’m going to do.


4 thoughts on “unnecessary guilt

    • Ha, thanks, Fan. I appreciate your support. I think the post office might have (MORE THAN) enough to worry about but don’t get me started on the post office. (Yesterday I made a mistake on the postage for a package and they weren’t going to help me fix it. And I said, Okay, well isn’t there anything we can do? I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person who’s ever made this mistake. And the lady goes, “ACTUALLY. YOU ARE.”)

      Anyway, I’ll be back in 3 months! Plus we’ll see each other other times, I hope. Although, when I said that to Billy he told me, “Nope, see you in 90 days, Glen.”

  1. Good for you Jen- in some ways having to say “Hold up – I can do this all but just not at one time” can be so hard to realize. Take care of yourself!

  2. Pingback: happiness is a state of mind « follow my bliss

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