Semester Overload

by Kim Alexander, M.S.

You ever have so much on your plate that you become stagnant in attempting to accomplish any of it? We’re now moving into mid-October and it’s becoming apparent that there are some responsibilities regarding my dissertation proposal, tracking my clinical hours, and simply responding to emails that are falling to the waist side. This coming from the same person a few weeks ago declaring that they are soooo organized and always meets deadlines.

How can these two perspectives on task completion exist? Well this is what I’m currently trying to reconcile. My hope is that by the end of this post, there is some sort of a better understanding.

The most recent situation in which there was this interplay between remaining indifferent and stagnant about work completion and desiring to be organized and academically prompt was when I sat to work on responding to emails a few days ago. As I sat at the computer and stared at my inbox and planner, I experienced a unique tension come over me. It wasn’t typical anxiety though there was that fear of not completing my to do list and what that would mean. But instead, it was more like a sense of feeling overwhelmed. A lot of the thoughts running through my head revolved around a concern that I had too much on my plate and that it’s unbearable. I can’t stand to have all of these individuals to reply to. I hate that I can’t be given the time to carefully and thoroughly attend and respond to each email. As a result of this “I can’t stand it-itis”, I procrastinated because of course self-sabotaging and self-fulfilling prophesies are the go to solution to guaranteeing your worst fears becomes a reality.

I think I almost surprised myself typing that. Actually… suddenly things are definitely in a different perspective now. You see it’s ridiculous to think that I can’t stand being in the position that I am in academically. This is the field and career I most enjoy and chose to commit to. Therefore, while it is reasonable to prefer less items on my to do list or less emails to respond to, this is a natural part of my work… the work that is a part of the field and career I so enjoy. I think Ellis might say that I really just need to suck it up and ask myself if this is the tax that I must pay to be in the field that I love? And am I willing to pay it? The answer is exuberantly “Yes!” As for the belief that I must be organized and academically prompt, well my hypothesis is that as I keep maintaining this rigid standard for myself, I will continue to feel overwhelmed as my responsibilities fluctuate in intensity, which will likely be the cause of me becoming stagnant. Therefore, it would better serve me to think that, “While I prefer to be organized and academically prompt, there is no rule that I must, thus, when I am not, it does not mean that I will not be able stand the discomfort of having to get back on track.

Kimberly Alexander, M.S.

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