Do you know that feeling when you plan something amazing for months, even years, do all the planning and all the prep work
– and by the time you actually get to do The Thing, you’re so exhausted and overwhelmed that the stuff you used to dream of feels like just another chore that needs to be done?
This is how this trip felt to me when we left.
All the small things
There were some craft projects I wanted to finish before leaving, though I realised quite quickly that that wasn’t going to happen. Then the shopping – which, to be very clear, is anything but fun. Especially when it comes to clothes: it’s never been easy to dress myself as a fat woman, but sportswear? AND personal preferences? Forget it.
Eventually I managed to get everything I needed, plus most of the common necessities, so I could busy myself with the admin.
Oh, the admin. The endless admin. Set up my new phone, get a new health insurance, renew my Belgian residence permit less than a week before departure.
In the meantime, we also had to move our personal items into the spare room so that the tenants could move in, and it took quite a bit of discipline NOT to try to sort each and every thing I own, take desicions about them and try to execute said decisions.
I was exhausted before we even left.
Perfectionism is portable
Once on the road, it was other things, making content for my socials, setting up this blog, taking pictures and sharing them, keeping contact with friends and family – nevermind that I was biking more daily, and on heavier ground, than ever before.
I should do this, do that, write that post, make those videos, bike that far, see that sight.
And that pattern of thought is a recipe for disaster.
More precisely, it’s a recipe for burnout.
And when I started having a burning pain in my left elbow (of all things), and then fell over one of the tent ropes, I knew I couldn’t keep on like this.
These last three years, most of my burnout recovery has mostly consisted of resource management. Still want to do All The Things? Still want to do them well? One trick that might help is to take a very honest look at your own resources – time, energy, money, whatever – before committing to them.
Re-learning that lesson meant taking two unplanned rest days, recalculating our distances (with a lower daily average), and ultimately cutting out 200 kilometres to be sure we can catch our train at the end of July to Gennetines.
It also means a commitment to taking everything slower, and doing only what I both can and want to. A surprisingly difficult task if your general method of dealing with things is doing them, no questions asked – it means asking questions about the consequences of doing, rather than those of not doing.
It means letting go of the dead weight of my own expectations.
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