The Self-Imposed Stress of Being Superwoman

The Self-Imposed Stress of Being Superwoman

When I broke my ankle in January 2014, my dad and boss convinced me it was a sign I was doing too much. I worked multiple jobs, participated on the board of several non-profit organizations, and was about to start classes at San Diego State University. At the time, I bought into the idea that some higher power was physically preventing me from filling my calendar to the brim.

Since my recovery, I’ve striven to identify what “self-care” means to me and incorporate it regularly into my life. It’s not easy for me to relax, and it’s been WAY harder since the pandemic started. My personal life took quite the turn (and self-care went out the door) in June 2020 when my husband quit his engineering job and decided to become a history teacher.

Already because of COVID-19, my full-time salary is cut by 20% and I’m working 25+ hours of customer support each week. This means less flexibility in my schedule, specifically not being able to work out as much. I feel weaker and more tired, discouraged at my backward progress in pole. Anxiety reigns over any feelings of achievement.

To close the income gap, I started minimum wage jobs at Postmates and Rover, which are enjoyable but draining. The self-imposed pressure to maintain my friendships and physical strength while working infinitely more hours is now becoming too much. I’m aware that I’m trying to “cheat the system” (forcing more hours into the day) and it’s not sustainable.

There are upsides. I’m discovering new restaurants through Postmates and getting out of the apartment through Rover. Being the breadwinner isn’t easy, but I’m doing it. Someday we’ll be able to afford the house we moved here to buy. But what makes me feel guilty is every time I fall behind my pole goals in class. I’m embarrassed when I know I shouldn’t be.

My challenge isn’t self-awareness. I’m perfectly capable of identifying my destructive patterns and areas of improvement. My “stuckness” is not having the desire to change. I’m addicted to maximizing efficiency, likely on a path to send myself to the hospital again, but refusing to learn my lesson until it actually happens. Focusing on the positive isn’t the solution.

Like many other journal entries, there’s no takeaway here. I’m not seeking validation. I want so badly to keep being superwoman, juggling multiple jobs and non-profits while maintaining my friendships, marriage, two dogs, and household chores. Everything right now feels like quantity, not quality, but perhaps for the sake of my health, there are some decisions I need to make.

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