Esther O’Moore Donohoe on how to stop deluding yourself
Let’s imagine a scenario. You’re on the bus home after a long day at work and are just about to rewatch Selling Sunset when your phone dies. ‘Nay a problem’ you say to yourself like the good humoured trooper you are as you reach for your charger which you then realise you have left on your desk. You still have a great attitude though so you decide to entertain yourself by running through every bad decision you’ve ever made for the duration of the journey home. And then, as you see your stop approaching, you temporarily lose the power of sight and float above your body, when you remember you’ve arranged to meet with friends that evening. It is in those moments that you whisper to yourself ‘but once I get through this week, it’ll calm down again on Monday.’ But reader, I need you to know one thing which I share, with a confidence I possess in no other area of my life – it will absolutely not calm down again on Monday. As sure as Jason Oppenheimer will remain legally single until his last breath, the never ending ‘next weeks’ of your life could be seven shades of shite worse. The great news is though, is that it’s fine bbz because we’re all in the same boat, going up sh*t creek together.
And as we paddle collectively through this once in a lifetime journey called Life, we come to learn that it is both wonderful and weary-ing all at the same time. When someone asked me recently if I’d anything exciting planned for the weekend, I told them that, if all went well, I hoped to get the knots out of three necklaces and maybe change the sheets. I had zero plans to burn the candle at both ends because the candle was very tired and was leaking all over her desk. But next week, I assured them, woah, next week was going to be different because from where I was standing ‘next week’ was 234 million kilometres away. I fully believed, as I do every week, that I was finally going to figure out the magical balance between life and work by then. Deadlines? They’d be crushed. Water consumption? The medically approved amount would be sipped daily. And sleep? ‘Siri, show me a woman drifting off to sleep with ease and waking fully rested, 8 hours later please’. Well, we laugh.
Then of course, you will have miracle weeks where it feels like you really do have everything under control. You remember what day the bin goes out and your bus pulls up right as you get to your stop. This type of week often occurs when you’ve had a couple of days off or you’ve finished a box set. It can also be induced when you buy a load of new stationary. Show me a woman who doesn’t believe that a multipack of new pens and a note pad will completely change her life and I will show you a liar. Buying stationary is perhaps one of the most hopeful things a human being can do. In your post-purchase euphoria, you tell yourself ‘With this new mini-whiteboard and six-pack handy highlighter set, I will never forget another appointment again. I will be a better friend, sister, partner and lover. I will download a Couch to 5K app, never use and then delete in 3 weeks’ time.’ Enjoy these rare times because you better believe the week after next a bout of violent diarrhoea is heading in your direction. Even more terrifying, it may also be the week you actually have to go to your book club after not attending any of them since you joined the WhatsApp group 18 months ago *shudder*.
So what can the busy person do? I’d strongly support lowering your expectations in all areas of your life. There are only so many hours into which you can squeeze doing bits into. For example, when entertaining, the only preparation you should do in advance of guests, is squirting bleach into the loo at the very last minute. This will fool visitors into thinking that your house is actually clean when in fact it is crawling. If you’re a member of a book club (see above) and rarely make it to actually reading the book, this is fine. Never forget that the real point of book clubs is to keep sales of Doritos mild salsa going. And if it is a work situation and you feel overwhelmed, tell them you have a heavy period and they simply won’t know what to do with themselves. It will buy you at least 48 hours deadline extension.
And if you’re feeling like everyone has it sorted out, please understand that they are all in a heap just like you. Maybe you’ve got one friend who always has her hair GHD curled and has lots of clear acrylic storage boxes in her fridge, but know that the rest of us are all Jack being pushed off that plank of wood by Rose (R.I.P fictitious Jack). Sure, all you can do is your best, #amIrightgurrrrrls? Do the thing that is most necessary on your 13 page To Do list and work backwards from there. Once you’ve done that, you can then reward yourself by crawling under your bed, pulling your jumper over your head and hiding. See you next week, Next Week!