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When Your Over-scheduled Life Doesn’t Play Fair

Posted August 25, 2014 by Katie Fleming in Life After Five
The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.”  

I hope everyone has had a relaxing summer thus far!  If you haven’t, fear not…you’re definitely not alone.  My summer was supposed to look like this:  Transition from my full-time job with insane hours to another in which I’m in charge of my schedule; beach days; last minute weekend trips; training for my first marathon; playing with my puppies; eating popsicles; BBQ’S; repeat.

Unfortunately, life doesn’t always play fair.

My summer actually turned out to be incredibly stressful, with major life crises happening almost weekly.  Illness, injury, heartbreak, death (unexpected X3)…almost everything that could have been thrown at me, was.  Along with my scheduled responsibilities of working 60-70 hours per week for most of the summer (I combined my full-time position and my other position for two months), training for a marathon, caring for my pups, and all day-to-day responsibilities that come with being an independent adult, I had crisis after crisis to deal with.  I’m hesitant to say that things seem to be calming down, because last time I thought that, my sister called me to inform me of yet another unexpected death.  (Knock on wood!)

All those crises are still too fresh and raw for me to really reflect on just yet.  In fact, I’m still in the middle of several.  Looking at my summer as a whole, I have to remind myself that there’s only so much in life that I can control.  There will always be times in our lives (however long!) that throw us off our perfectly paved paths.

So what do we do when life doesn’t play fair?

  1. First, step away for a few moments.  Take a walk, bubble bath, massage…whatever works for you.
  2. Look at the big picture, (rather than each stressor/crisis individually).  Evaluate where you have control, and where you don’t.  (You don’t have control over other people, nor over your emotions, but you can control your actions.)
  3. Look at what you can control.  Are there any responsibilities you can take off your list, or relax on?  (For example, I found myself relaxing on my need to have a spotless home, and I eventually decided to cut out marathon training.)
  4. Find someone who can help support you.  Friends, family, a professional, or all of the above.  (Thank you to everybody who’s supported me this summer!)
  5. Have compassion for yourself.  We are only human, after all!  (There will likely be a moment, or moments, when you feel yourself breaking down. I had one major breakdown, and felt a great deal of anxiety over my ability to handle things.  I kept thinking “what else? what else is going to happen?”  I then felt shame, because I felt like as a therapist, I “should be able” to handle everything.  I had to remind myself that it’s much, much easier to guide others through their pain than navigate your own on your own.  Those moments of feeling weak don’t mean your strength has disappeared!)

I would never wish a summer like this on anybody.  Unfortunately, we’ll all be hit like this from time to time.  Just know that you WILL get through it!

About the Author

Katie Fleming

Katie earned her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from Northwestern University, and is currently a Crisis Therapist in Chicago. Her therapy interests include health and wellness, relationships, trauma, and crisis. Katie is also a therapist with a group practice in Arlington Heights. Katie is thrilled to be a part of Career Girl Network, helping to guide all Career Girls towards overall physical, emotional, and mental wellness. Katie is passionate about animal rescue, running, and yoga. She is the proud dog mom of Gulliver and Duke!