Have you looked at a picture of yourself, and you swear you don’t look like that?
That’s because we generally have an inaccurate perception of ourselves. Part of it is because our mirror images are always reversed. I think the rest has something to do with the inability to control the elements around us. Like wind.
The good news is other people won’t be so shocked at how we look because to them, we always look like that.
I think that’s good news.
Looks are just one of the misperceptions we can have about ourselves.
For the past several months to a year, I’ve been getting migraines and pains in my face. Specifically, in my cheeks and around my jaw. When I share this information with pretty much anyone, I always get the same question: are you stressed?
“No!” I reply. Because I really don’t think I am.
I reported the jaw pain to my dentist. He did some evaluation and said it was muscular, probably caused by stress. “Take a chill pill,” he said.
Yep. My dentist told me to chill out.
I really don’t think I’m stressed, though.
Stress was what I had when I was a third grade teacher. I know this will come as a shock to everyone, but teaching is a stressful job. It’s at least 45 hours per week of planning and instruction + grading + test prep + report cards + normal parents + crazy parents + principal meetings + everyone blaming society’s problems on you. Hooray!
I also had young kids in daycare when I was teaching, so half of my salary went to that. Double hooray!
I’m much better off now. As a certified tutor, I only work during the school year, and even then I work 20 hours in a five-day week. I do assessments and report to teachers, but I don’t have to do the litany of crap I listed two paragraphs ago. For the most part, I get to just teach. And I’m not even doing that right now, as it’s summer break.
Is work stressing me out? Probably not.
*rubs knotted muscle in face*
Let’s explore other factors. How about kids?
I have two boys. They’re ten and seven years old. For the most part, they entertain themselves, feed themselves (breakfast and lunch), and I even have them doing their own laundry. Awe, yeah.
But lately, the little one keeps reminding me of this:
See, out of the four members of our family, three of us are introverts. We’re totally cool working quietly on our own, being quiet on car rides, and we’re not real big into going places with crowds. Guess which one is the extrovert.
Little man feels he needs to fill every silent second with something – talking, singing, shrieking, whatever. It’ll be great someday. He’ll probably become a great leader or speaker. Right now, our days are full of random questions, and he already knows the answer to a lot of them. He just needs to talk. My standard answer now is, “What do you think?”
“Mommy, why are the cars on the street?”
“What do you think?”
“They’re going somewhere.”
Five seconds pass.
“Mommy, why is it hot today?”
“What do you think?”
“Makes sense to me.”
And on it goes.
Sometimes, I just can’t take the incessant chatter. I set him up with Minecraft or set a timer and have him play in his room.
And then, it’s quiet.
But it never lasts as long as I need it to.
It’s taken me three goes to finish this post. Let’s see if that’s all it takes, because he’s still technically awake. The husband is giving him a haircut, so he’s getting the chatter.
Add to that the normal parenting stuff, especially during the summer: setting up play dates, driving to the pool, driving to the roller skating rink, dealing with Little Man’s tantrum at the rink, dinner, housekeeping, etc etc etc.
So are the kids stressing me out? Maybe. But they’re good kids, so maybe not.
*pops two ibuprofen*
That leaves one giant piece of my life: writing.
Writing is really more than writing. Sure, getting the words down is important, but the rest is working with the critique group, editing, rewriting, marketing, keeping an eye on the published book, communicating with the publisher, keeping up with blog posts, and making sure you have an online presence.
I love writing. I really do. Telling a story on paper is great fun.
Sometimes, reading critique comments is tiring. Marketing can be expensive. Negative reviews are no fun. You don’t always feel like talking to people online.
Does writing stress me out? Sometimes.
Enough to impact my face?
Many – I’d venture to say most – people have more stressful lives than I do. They work full-time jobs and raise kids and commute and struggle to make ends meet.
And that’s just normal day-to-day operations. These people probably shouldn’t watch the news.
So what the hell is my problem?
This is why I refuse to believe I’m stressed.
Maybe it’s some kind of compounding effect. The kids aren’t that stressful and writing isn’t that stressful, but combined it’s enough to give me a headache.
Maybe denying I’m stressed is stressing me out.
Feel free to leave stress-relief ideas in the comments, but not yoga. I can’t do yoga. I usually think of something funny and embarrass myself. Plus, standing on my head gives me a headache.
On the other hand, I’ll know that headache won’t be stress-related. Maybe it’s not such a bad idea.