Tag Archives: exhaustion

Killing Perfectionism

I sort of tumble through Tuesdays as a general rule of thumb but today felt particularly bad. I actually did the readings for my first class but when the professor called on me, I hadn’t a clue what the answer was. Unfortunately, it proved to be a rather vital point so he pointed at me every time it came up for the rest of class. 

I had about an hour till my second class and I planned to read for it beforehand. But turns out I left my textbook at home. And as it happens, this professor cold calls so I had to own up to not doing the reading so I wouldn’t get called on. It is quite demoralizing to admit to someone that even though you’ve had an entire week to do the readings, you didn’t. 

Then my third class. I did the reading. It didn’t matter; I barely understand a word of Immigration Law. 

And then finally my fourth class, where I don’t have the textbook yet so I didn’t read for it. 

It doesn’t sound too bad listing it like that. But when you add in trying to prep for discussion groups tomorrow and wrapping up a project for my Foundation job and the guilty knowledge that final edits on my law review article are due and, oh, any other number of e-mails and projects slipping out of my grasp….it feels exhausting. 

And I am reminded that every semester I tell myself I won’t listen to the perfectionist in my head. I will do what I can and make the best of how it turns out. But it still stings. I want to do it all. I want to be perfectly prepared for class. I want As. I want to turn in perfect work assignments and spout wisdom to my students and somehow maintain a social life and be a good big sister while I’m at it. 

And I just can’t. I need to intentionally give up my expectations. Physically set them aside and say ‘no.’ So I do. And once I do I think I’m done for good. But no, it sneaks back. Again and again and again. The pressure to Do Better. To be perfect. 

And then I go and forget my textbook at home. 

I don’t know what this semester will bring. I hoped it would be less than last year. From a pure “listing” of things, it is less. But being a 3L comes with new types of responsibility. (If I’m even a 3L, as Thailand hasn’t sent my official transcript to the law school yet so as far as any formal records show, I’m a semester behind and still a 2L…but that’s a rant for another day.) 

I know there is an entire spiritual element missing from this post. God pours many blessings into my life. And sometimes I do recognize and appreciate that fact. But if I’m honest, perfectionism hurts me in my spiritual journey as much as anywhere. I don’t live up to the goals I set for myself. I don’t read the Bible or pray nearly as much as I should. And so I just let that weigh on me, yet another “extra” that doesn’t get accomplished. 

It isn’t so much a battle with perfectionism as a war. Some battles perfectionism wins. Some I win. And some days, like today, it ends in a draw because I’m too tired and confused to process anything. 

The First Day

Of course, looking back, I realize my first 24 hours in Thailand were not the traumatic events they seemed. In fact, they represented quite normal inconveniences of travel. But I was running on 3 hours of sleep at best…so I can only make that my excuse. 

For starters, I got off the plane and could not find my ride. I paid extra for someone from my hotel to pick me up. But – while dozens of signs littered the exits in all different languages – none of them said my name. I know, I walked up and down a dozen times staring at each one. I walked for 45 minutes. I kept stopping people to ask if they knew of the guesthouse where I had reservations. No one knew. 

Finally, I admitted defeat and went in search of a taxi. Now, I may not have done much research prior to coming to Thailand, but one thing repeatedly came up: do not accept a flat fee from the taxi drivers. Always, always use the meter. So when I walked up to the taxi stand and the driver offered me a flat fee to take me to my hotel, I instantly said no. He looked put out but agreed to use his meter. 

I then asked if he took credit card. In my wanderings, I somehow forgot to pull out any Thai currency. (By this point, it was closing on 2 am in Thailand.) He waved away my concerns. Then we hit the first toll. Apparently, I was expected to pay for it. I protested that I had no cash. He demanded the toll money. I again repeated that I just arrived and did not have any bahts. He paid, but maintained an icy front that clearly conveyed his opinion about travelers who did not carry cash. 

We pulled up to my hotel and he demanded that I go to the ATM and pull out cash. But not another problem hit me. How much cash? I had no concept of Thai money. I know now that 1 Thai baht is less than a U.S. penny. At the time, his charge of 3,000 bahts felt outrageous. I was furious and overtired and when the ATM machine spit out a 5,000 baht, I handed it over and did not get any change from him. My irritation grew. I didn’t want to fight it, but I also felt like I was being taken advantage of. 

I managed to crash for about three hours before getting up for orientation the next day. Surprisingly, orientation went fairly well. I stayed awake, at least. In retrospect, they did not orient us on anything useful. A tour of the school, for example, would have gone a long way. 

I then needed to catch another taxi to my apartment to collect my keys. This time, the concierge flagged down a taxi for me. Or at least, he tried to. It took six or seven tries before he found one who knew the address. He then quoted a flat price to me. Foolishly, I decided to take it.

My landlord was 20 minutes late and I spent an awkward hour or so dawdling in a Starbucks trying to stay awake before I got my keys.

Then I needed to flag another taxi back. Once again, I went through the rigmarole of showing the address and getting turned down. I don’t think any taxi driver here uses GPS. I finally did track down a driver and he used the meter without me even having to ask. My trip back cost 2/3rds less than my trip there. Once again, I felt frustrated at being taken advantage of. 

And that was that. I don’t really recall the rest of the day. I suppose I forced myself to stay awake till 8 pm before collapsing (and promptly waking up at 5 am the next morning.) All in all, I cannot say my generally negative attitude towards taxi drivers has changed much. If I ever get data on my phone, I plan to try Grab Taxi (which is like Uber here.) But getting the phone thing sorted out has been more complicated than I expected! 

I feel naked with only one phone…

For the first time in a very long time, I no longer have two phones, two laptops, two credit cards, and a constant feeling that I’m ignoring something I should be doing for work. It is a strangely empty feeling. It isn’t like having a phantom limb as much as feeling like there is a large, empty space somewhere inside me where tension used to be. My responsibility is now gone. 

I know this is a temporary feeling and I’ll be back to work in three days, but it still surprises me. Of all the emotions I imagined, “emptiness” was not one of them. I think I might get sick. I’ve been fighting a sore throat this morning. The tension and emotions of the past few weeks have finally knocked me down and now I just want to sleep and avoid people. However, I can’t do that because there are only 3 days till I leave for the summer and people want to see me. I didn’t plan this very well! 

Oh well, enough of my whining. I’m going to take advantage of introvert time while I can and hopefully it will be enough to get me through the next few days!

20,000 Steps in Heels

Today I worked 13 hours and took 20,000 steps in high heels. I feel fairly brain dead. To give you an idea how brain dead, the cable guy at Wal Mart asked me who my cable provider was and I told him “I live at home so I don’t have to worry about it.” I think I meant something like, “I live with my parents” but it wasn’t until I had taken several steps that his, “you live at home?” finally processed in my brain. Whoops.

It was a good day, though. I plan to end it with some Remington Steele and no alarm clock. Take that, morning.