Struggling in the world of prioritization

When you get yourself so deep into life and responsibility, how do you decide what matters, and what doesn’t matter?  How do you know when the effort you’ve given a project is enough, and when you need to try harder?  When is quitting okay?  And what responsibilities are important enough to prioritize over friends and family?  At what point do you just have to do what you can do and throw the towel in for the rest of it?

I’ve been struggling recently.  A lot.  School and work at the same time is hard.  It’s beyond hard.  It’s kicking my butt – and the worst part is, I’m letting it kick my butt.  There are tons of people out there who accomplish it all and do it with a smile on their face.  They don’t get overwhelmed or frustrated; they just go on their merry way conquering all that lies before them.  Me?  The minute I get two stressful events occurring in the same time frame, I freak out.  And life right now is throwing stressful situations at me left and right!

Work?  Work is stressful and actually busy and I have these responsibilities that overwhelm me because I’m not confident in myself that I can accomplish the things that are expected of me.  School?  School is stupid and pointless and I don’t want to do it and have built a mind block against it.  Love?  Love takes work and tender lovin’ care.  You can’t just let love simmer, otherwise it gets soft and mushy.  And speaking of soft and mushy – exercise!  I never have time to exercise.  I sleep instead of exercising, and then feel guilty.  Health?  It’s not the best, and it’s stressing me out.  Family?  I bailed on my family last week because I was so stressed out of my mind I couldn’t comprehend using the night to spend with the people I love instead of using the night to move stuff and that sucked.  And that’s another thing!  A new home!  I am currently in that limbo world of living in a new home, which means living out of boxes, and trying to find space in the new home to put all my crap and adjusting to living with a boy.  I’m excited to live with a boy, but it means adapting to the new life.

Why do I let things that are supposed to just be “life” get me so stressed out?  I mean, look at my list:  work, school, love, health, family, home.  Those are the stress factors in my life.  How does that make any sense?  And it’s not even that those things are necessarily “stressful” I just worry about them and therefore they become stress inducers to me – if that makes sense.

Ugh, where is this all coming from, you’re probably asking.  Well, this week I had my midterm for school, and I did 80% of it and quit.  I read the last two questions, which totaled 20% of my grade, got completely overwhelmed by them/didn’t understand them, so I just didn’t do them.  I turned in an exam only 80% of the way complete for the first time since my days of Accounting 101 and attempting to break my way into the School of Business at the University of Maryland.  I was miserable then, and am having flashbacks to it all now.  But what do you do when you realize you don’t really want the degree you’re working toward?  You’re merely doing it because it’s what will better your career (and oh, by the way, you don’t even really love your career) and it’ll make all the people above you happy to see you’re doing it.  What do you do?  I think I just want to be one of those people who works 40 hours a week and then goes home.  I don’t want to kill myself doing school on my time off from work.  I just want to work because I have to and then go home and have my life.  Have the time I want to spend with my family, unpack the boxes sitting on my dining table, go hiking and take pictures, TAKE PICTURES, I miss taking pictures.  I don’t want school to run my life, and it is.

But now I’m back to where I started.  When is it okay to quit?  I worry a lot that if I quit now, it’ll make me a “Quitter” in general, and I don’t want to be labeled that way.  I’m not a quitter when it comes to things I love and things I’m passionate about.  But if I quit this, will it break down the flood gate and make it acceptable to quit other things?  And everyone keeps telling me to just suck it up and do it, just finish school now while my job is paying for it and I don’t have kids.  Ugh. 😦 Growing up my parents had this rule that once you started something, you had to finish it, whether it be a season of T-ball, or a season of O.M. (Odyssey of the Mind, anyone anyone?), or a school class, or just whatever, once you started, you had to finish.  Well how does this factor in?  Do I have to finish the program, or just the semester?  What makes me a quitter?

Let me just lay it out for you.  I am overwhelmed.  Life is drowning me right now and I don’t know where to go for a breath.  I need a breather.  Hell, I need a vacation.  I just need something to give a little.  So is school the place to bend?  I don’t know, I really don’t, but I need to figure it out, and I need to figure it out soon.

  1. I have no answers, of course, but I’m here to send a hug your way! Personally, it seems like school is making you miserable — and isn’t something you really want to be doing. I completely see your point about not wanting to be a “quitter” and looking bad in front of the higher-ups, but I don’t think that leaving school would make you a quitter. It isn’t something you really chose to do of your own volition… not something you’re passionate about. Of course, passion makes all the difference.

    I think you need to do what you need to do to achieve balance and peace in your life… and if that means not finishing grad school, then so be it. If it means continuing with school, hopefully you can find a way to make time for everything else… because everything else is so important, too.

    Completely know what you mean about being stressed, and I don’t even have half the stuff going on that you do! As it is, I feel like I just run from one thing to the next without pause. It’s all about balance… and I’m trying hard to find that, too.


  2. Look, as someone who is fully versed in the “family laws” of quitting, I will give you this food for thought: Your life is your own, and you’re living it right now, every day. The time we’re spending right now isn’t like some sort of intermediate time until our real life starts. So you have to make decisions and choices that will help you to feel good about the life you are living. Sometimes that means being selfish — even when it comes to family. That’s the worst kind because it comes with the most guilt. But you have to do the best you can to make choices that you won’t later regret, even though they’re sometimes hard in the moment. Good luck lil sista! And just so you know, I’ve quit things that I committed to (Nat’l Boards, anyone?) and I’m still here, still loved, still respected (I think!). Ultimately, you’re the only one who will judge yourself for your decision. So make the one that’s right for you 🙂 I love you!

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