The “sleep when we’re dead” complex.
Updated: Sep 2, 2019
I’m writing this, tired as ever. Figures.
At 30, I’ve learned one thing: I don’t know how to relax, let alone how to function with ease. For the last 30 years, I’ve thrived off of chaos. I’ve always craved a “full-plate” of responsibilities because it has subconsciously fueled my inherent need to be “superwoman.” Through adolescence and into early adulthood, I pushed myself to be the best at everything and worked my way to the top in every realm of academia. Even in all of my extracurricular endeavors—music, writing, running—the top is where I always needed to be.
Let’s pause for a moment.
This is not a self-glorified pity party, nor is it a think piece reveling in my accomplishments. I’m grateful to God for all that I’ve achieved and humbled by the weight of what God has allowed me to endure. Still, I’m tired. And I know I’m not the only one. I frequently hear testimonials of millennials, very similar to my own. We’re the generation of “I want more,” or “Nobody cares, work harder,” or “I’ll sleep when I’m dead…” These phrases are all motivational in nature but equally have the capacity to breed anxiety because of society’s way of making us feel like we are not doing enough.
The idea of not ever feeling satisfied in one’s level of productivity. Always striving for better, bigger, higher, taller, more, more, more. I’m in alignment with wanting success but I‘ve really been having conversations with myself about not compromising my health, while en route. In exploration of my conviction, I’ve asked myself: “Where is this coming from?—this sense of not knowing how to be still and always feeling inadequate?” Certainly, we live in a capitalist society that exalts multitasking and maintaining overt levels of exertion and preoccupation.
For me, I know that some contributing layers would also include my ethnical identity has a black, Haitian woman in society. As a culture, we pride ourselves on hard work. I mean, look at how we seized our independence many years ago! This level of ambition is genetically engrained from within. This is especially true of being raised by a black, Haitian woman. My mother is the definition of hardworking. I grew up in an environment where juggling many tasks is the norm with little to no alternative.
While these attributes are positive and worth magnification, I think what often gets the short-end of the stick is rest. Rest is often negatively connoted with weakness or laziness. There have been many times when an opportunity has presented itself for me to “take a break” or “rest” and I cannot get through it without feeling guilty or anxious that I’ll be perceived as lacking ambition or that there could be so many things that I can be accomplishing. In essence, we’re taught how to be busy or how to stay busy but we’re not necessarily taught on how to bask in rest to foster inner-balance. The truth is, we will have nothing to give others or even to ourselves if we don’t learn to pause.
This topic is multi-layered and the purpose of this article is simply to evoke healthy self-reflection and facilitate change. I have made it a point to personally challenge myself to learn to rest more.
Listen to your body. Listen to your mind. It’s okay to be tired. It’s okay to be busy. But does one always have to outweigh the other? Are you at peace with your body or at war? Who is responsible for that?
Challenge yourself to be more inviting of cultivating a lifestyle where you are just as restful as you are prolific.
Nonetheless, “the marathon continues.”