I sometimes long for the day when I’m “just right” – Goldilocks’ dream. I imagine we all feel that way as we oscillate between extremes. I find myself often on the “too much” side bewildered over how I got there. Again.
One of my favorite things to do these days is to ask someone who is very different from me to share what it’s like being them. For example, I’ll ask extroverts what it’s like being extroverts. How do you plan your days as an extrovert? What does it look like for you if you need to recharge? How do you approach making friends?
I think my anxiety is what keeps me on the “too much” side but that’s not the full story. A large part of this habit is an engrained sense of responsibility I have within me. If I’m capable of taking something on, I believe I should within reason (goes back to “just because I can doesn’t mean I should”). This can often result in others feeling as though what I’m doing is too much to keep up with.
I remember going through a period of time while getting my psychology degree thinking I dealt with episodes of hypomania:
Mania is a facet of type I bipolar disorder in which the mood state is abnormally heightened and accompanied by hyperactivity and a reduced need for sleep. By contrast, hypomania (often described as “mania-light”) is a type II bipolar disorder which neither has the range nor severity of symptoms that classic mania has.
The more I dug into it though, the more I realized that wasn’t the case. My abilities and “too much”-ness is too consistent to correlate with the ups and downs of bipolar. It’s sad to realize that I spent a period of time trying to diagnose myself with something because of how I made others feel.
There’s a darker side to this though. I think my mom was the first person who was able to point out how much how I approached life took out of me. In between games at soccer tournaments, I’d have to go retreat for a long nap. I’d crash hard away from everyone else and with the curtains drawn. My mom described it as plugging me in to recharge. I remember her telling another parent about it in front of me only to realize that this wasn’t something other kids had to do. It was one of many following “ah ha” moments that still haunt me.
When I do long for goldilocks’ dream, I quickly realize that I’m not sure how meaningful I’d find being “just right”. I find that by not being right, I have more of a drive for reflection and improvement.
We all must constantly dance along the path of being just right for both ourselves and for others. How do we live with ourselves? How do we, as social creatures, live alongside others? The dance continues on.