How Do They Do It?

I’m constantly amazed at people who don’t flinch at loud noises, who can spend a full day talking and listening and still have the energy and brainpower to talk in the evening, who don’t flinch at bright lights, who can be on their feet all day and still go dancing at night without swollen ankles and feet, who can work on their computers all day and still read a book at night, who can work all day and come home and clean the house, cook the food, wash the dishes, talk to their spouses. I grew up in the age of the Superwoman, when women went from being “housewives” to being wage-earners without changing much of their “housewively” duties. Remember the old commercial, “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let you forget you’re a man…” Yeah, I’m not like that. I’m a wimp. I can bring home the bacon, but it better be precooked, and my  husband better plan on serving it up for himself because I’m going to be crawling through the front door and into bed. Thank goodness times have changed.

So I just spent three days at a conference. It was an excellent conference – Orlando, sun, warmth… 3500 attendees, traffic, noise, lights, talking. I’ve known for years that I’m an introvert. I can function. I’m not actually phobic – I leave my house, talk to strangers, enjoy people. But so often I get drained. Overwhelmed. My ability to function declines sharply as noise and activity around me increases. Some people thrive – I don’t. And I miss out. Too often. After working all day, it’s very seldom I manage at most dinner and a movie with a friend. After being at a conference all day for three days, I managed one dinner out with friends. I missed out the other two nights as my energy (physical and mental) reserves dwindled. Sleeping has not revitalized me at this point, simply because I’m so incredibly drained. I wanted to write about this last night, but I couldn’t access my vocabulary.

I wasn’t always like this, but every year exhaustion closes in on me. I make more and more choices, compromises in terms of where I expend energy, how I can be most productive, what my priorities are for productivity. I find myself envying, straightup envying, people who don’t have to contemplate those compromises, who can do as they please when they please and just sleep off exhaustion. And I’m starting to contemplate more and more how long I’m going to be able to make those choices and how soon my body will make them for me.

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