Art by Sam Bumanlag
Last time I checked, I was a living, breathing, vertebrae-bearing human being. Yet, something my friends point out time and again is my lack of backbone. Confrontation is a language I simply don’t speak. Easy agreement, however, I’m more fluent in — though its effects haven’t been so easy on the mind and body as of late.
There’s a fine line I think about, the one between getting drowned and voluntarily plunging into floodwaters. I could blame this past year’s burnout on the initial dazzle of college life, of people and projects and their promises of growth. Some of it worked for me, and some of it didn’t, but if I realized the latter in the moment, it was already too late to escape — not without letting someone down even more deeply.
How much could I accomplish in silence, because props to me for not letting on? Did I want people to notice the situation on their own, or let me cross the finish line without aid, in exchange for the bragging rights of a solo act?
That’s how I justified those challenges at first, anyway, with a Messianic complex on full display. As if yes, my hours of sleep will take the hit, because nobody else’s should, never mind that I’m pulling a load heavier than my own weight. Never mind, because I refused to mention it, nor speak up about the tiredness outside my rant Twitter. No one had to know. And so the water rose without a rescue boat coming, because I didn’t send a distress signal to begin with.
My no-confrontation policy meant keeping the SOS to myself, never admitting I wanted — no, needed — help. I will admit now that work had become a question of pride. How much could I accomplish in silence, because props to me for not letting on? Did I want people to notice the situation on their own, or let me cross the finish line without aid, in exchange for the bragging rights of a solo act?
Ambition tells me not to hand over the reins. But it’s pretty ironic how being a joiner, committed to all these activities, became less about taking part and more about taking on. Until I could no longer grasp the point, except maybe the point of retreat. God knows I need it to gain back perspective, if that’s what they’re calling humility nowadays.
Knowing when to stop is the exact opposite of spineless,
and I have to keep reminding myself of that.
A different kind of courage pushes me to sit things out. I haven’t been totally successful yet, since the semester’s filled up my to-do list, but I’m quelling the itch to do way more — which always leads down the road of too much. Knowing when to stop is the exact opposite of spineless, and I have to keep reminding myself of that. So let the world spin on around me, because I’m learning to find peace from the sidelines.