Sine Waves

How am I doing? Well, it depends on when you ask. The answer alternates between fantastic and frustrated depending on the time of day.

For the sake of a happy ending, I’ll take the bad first: I’m exhausted.

I went into the year guns blazing trying to be a better friend, son/sibling, team lead etc. My goal was to build structure and community, and while I’ve made progress at these things, I also seem to have lost the plot a little bit.

I’m building an amazing team at Paystack but a part of me really misses the tunnel vision of making things. I want wuruwuru to be a support system for creators but I constantly debate my commitment because it’s so hard to get anything done. Getting closer to friends and family has meant carrying things for people that I’ve largely been avoiding. And sometimes I look back at how I spend my time and I can barely find myself in any of it.

And it’s not that I don’t enjoy or get anything from it. I’m happy to be better connected to family and friends. I’m glad the studio exists. I’m grateful for the people I work with. I’m becoming a better leader and my teams are clearly getting stronger. But at the same time, it can sometimes feel like I’m on autopilot, only compelled by a sense of duty.

I disconnect and refresh as soon as I feel like this, but time again, I return to this exhaustion. Everything feels so long, and I often find myself wishing for when things were so much simpler.

In my internal world, it feels like I’ve been floating. In between not feeling physically settled and becoming more “responsible” generally, I sometimes feel neglected by myself.

I recognise that this feeling, while true, is also not exactly complete.

I’ve been reading and writing more. I’ve been on maybe six trips this year. Mes cours des français se passent bien. I’ve made a ton of new friends. I’m learning a shit ton. I’ve reconnected with old friends. I recently moved into what is more-or-less a sanctuary. I feel good about my body. My hair is healthy, and I even made it to the dentist after like three years.

So I have been catering to myself, but when I get some quiet time, it doesn’t always feel like it — and I’ve been trying to figure out what’s wrong.

At dinner the other day, JC talked about learning to protect his energy with the magical words “no” and it stuck with me. C also gave the beautiful analogy of a sine wave: sometimes you have a lot to give, and it’s okay to give more than you get, but you need to know when you’re at the bottom of the curve and when it’s time to put yourself first again.

I think I’ve spent the past few months indulging the part of me that thinks he can help everybody and do everything he sets his mind to. I’ve filled up all of my time with to-dos, and now they’re haunting me.

There’s a difference between making space for myself and resting when I’m tired, and I think I’ve been doing more of the latter. The things I do for myself can sometimes feel like a distraction from my exhaustion. My quiet time is riddled with work anxiety. I struggle to enjoy my alone time because, in the back of my mind, I know it’s only temporary.

It doesn’t help that I’m terrible at estimating my own capacity, that I thrive on distraction, or that I’ve created the fiction that I’m someone who finishes whatever he starts. You bring all these things together, and it’s easy to see why I end up being overwhelmed: I do way too much.

The first step to any kind of conflict resolution is to have a conversation, and I think that’s what this essay is.

I don’t expect to be magically less overwhelmed (this clarity of mind is thanks to the long weekend and a new space 😅) but now that I’m aware of where I am, I can work my way towards feeling better.

I need to tell myself “no” more often and suppress the feeling of not doing enough that compels me to do more. I was wise enough at the start of the year to create structures and hire people to help with work, but I need to be careful not to overload those structures. I need to focus on doing the most important things at any given time.

I need to be more intentional about me-time, versus taking the time I get. I need to do more of the things that refill me — conversation, learning, sex, writing, adventure, cooking, etc —and more consistently.

Generally, I’m doing okay. I guess I’m just at the bottom of my sine wave.

It can be a slow climb up, but I’m on it.

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