Losing Sleep

A few weeks ago, I woke from a fog, as dramatic as a Hollywood scene – comatose patient thrust into sitting position as she gasps a desperate lungful of air.

Until that moment, I hadn’t fully acknowledged how asleep I was. I can’t remember the last time I felt fully awake. I don’t just mean a literal tiredness. It’s true that between a sleepless baby and uncomfortable pregnancy, I haven’t had a complete, full night’s rest in nearly two years. That’s not what this is about. If I’m being honest, I have walked around with a distance in my eyes for much longer than that.

What finally nudged me out of my own head wasn’t anything dramatic. It was simply a glimpse of my previous self on a time-hop share on Facebook. Compelled by the memory, I began scrolling through my page from the last couple years of college. What I saw surprised me. It was like reading someone else’s feed. Did you know that I used to be funny? (And slightly spacey?)

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Far from witty anecdotes of life’s details, my social media reads much differently now: quiet. unoriginal. cautious. An embarrassingly perfect mirror of my life.

I can’t remember the last time I did something worth telling people about. I have run out of words, of things to say – I mean, unless you want to hear how many times the self-checkout computer at Walmart insisted there were unknown items in my bagging area. When I find a way to make that entertaining, you’ll be the first to read it here.

It’s a mystery, really, because I have had a few notable accomplishments. To name only the most recent: bought my first house, remodeled (past tense? ha! remodeling a house…), had a baby. Where were all my clever reflections detailing those situations? It’s shameful how quickly our life starts to seem average simply because it’s ours.

I’m in the awful in-between section of life. The middle. Beginnings are amazing. The youthful excitement and anticipation, the ease with which all your yet-unchallenged assumptions get to boast and grow. And endings? Nothing compares to that sense of accomplishment. The idea of finishing – and finishing well – is a virtue incomparable, providing direction and satisfaction. But between those glorious bookends is the normal section of life, with its confusion and sludge and uphillness. It’s exhausting. Overwhelming. Intimidating. It’s so much easier to go silent than to enjoy. To not return phone calls or cook a balanced meal or pay bills in a timely manner or get eye-level with your baby for an uninterrupted half hour. To let all the should haves pile up til the mound is so high you actually do have to ignore it because time is too limited for you to sort through that much regret.

It’s so much easier to not write. Because opening that document on your laptop would mean facing how little you have completed and how much longer you will have to slog through this unexciting stage.

Am I the only one who experiences this? I doubt it. Perhaps it is just my limited perspective, but it seems to me our whole world has been half asleep the last several years. No one feels fully engaged anymore.

I am trying to do better. To take cheesy pictures and bake bread and write something – even just two sentences – every day. Most of all, to be okay if my life and my words are not profound every time because perfectionism is the enemy of progress.

Sharing about my life – whether it is through social media or blogging or some other platform – has always been difficult for me. I struggle with that elusive line between showing gratitude and bragging. So, again, it is easier sometimes to just back off than do the hard work of finding balance. But truth is, as much of a bad rap as social media gets, I am actually at my healthiest – mentally, spiritually, creatively – when I Share and Post and Like with regularity. It’s not because social media has any special power. It’s not because the harm of comparison and adulation isn’t a very real issue on such platforms. It’s because I can use it in a way that provides accountability. When I share the exciting moments in my life online with others, it means I have first been aware enough to notice what moments in my life are noteworthy. I make myself stop and have gratitude when it would be easier to let busyness and boredom distract me.

If there were truly nothing to share, it would be time to make some serious life changes. But that isn’t usually the problem. There is always something to share, but we don’t always have eyes to see it. Life has seasons, so I don’t doubt that fog and rote-ness will overtake me again someday. But for as long as I can manage, I’m going to make an effort to keep my eyes open.

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