SG Wants to Know: How do you deal with feeling overwhelmed?
how to keep calm and carry on
One, two three…One, two, three…
I woke up, smiling. In my dream, I had just been ballroom dancing, and finally getting the hang of it.
Partnering with my brother-in-law (file that one away for discussing with my shrink), I’d been struggling to get the steps right. He was counting out loud to help me put my feet where they were supposed to go, in time with the music.
And I’d finally gotten it. I’d turned myself over to the music and allowed my feet to lead my brain and not the other way around when my alarm startled me out of my dancing reverie. A shame, because I was just starting to enjoy myself.
Nimbly, I slipped out of bed and walked into the kitchen, silently counting the steps to the dance I didn’t actually know when awake.
One, two, three…One, two three…
The night before, I’d gone to bed feeling like – to be completely and utterly over-dramatic about it – my life was spinning out of control. There’s so many good things happening right now: several new projects kicking off all at once, staffing up at Style Girlfriend with a web editor and a new intern, a last-minute blink-and-you’ll-miss-it move, and so much travel I’ve stopped wearing a watch so I don’t have to wind it.
When I still worked in advertising, I could never stand the co-workers who were quick to declare the sky was falling. The project manager who called a campaign all but killed as soon as a proposal went out of scope. The account person who ran into the creative team’s office shrieking because the client wanted to make the logo bigger.
I told myself I wasn’t one of those people, and in the ad world, I definitely wasn’t. But only because I didn’t really care about advertising.That laundry detergent ad we killed ourselves to finish didn’t make the deadline for the October issue of Oprah Magazine? Wah wah.
When I went off on my own, though, I realized, Oh. Actually I AM that person…I just never noticed it until I was invested in my work.
Now that I’m aware of this personality quirk (to put it kindly), I can actively work on changing – managing, really – my reactions to stressful situations. Being a stressed-out person makes everyone around you stressed. Nobody likes being around that person. Stop and think right now: I’m sure you can name a co-worker or a friend who puts you on edge every time you see him or her. It’s not a stylish vibe.
Now think of the person you turn to when things are up in the air – why do you go to them? Because they’re calm, collected, and always seem to know what to do. They might not have any better ideas, but they know how to take a breath and analyze the situation without freaking the f*ck out. And that’s a good look.
Besides, all the stuff I’m stressing about? It’s good stuff. Sure, it’s important to get it all right, but why fret?
My dream reminded me – I don’t have to stress so much. If I just follow the steps, the rest becomes easy, even beautiful. Yes, my projects are keeping me busy, but if I follow my timelines and delegate the work I need to delegate, it will eventually all get done. And sure, a brain dump to not one but two new #teamSG’ers is painful, but so worth it in the long run. Unpacking is always a process, and as long as I do a little everyday, I’ll be home sweet home before long. After all, New York apartments aren’t all that big. So if it all will get done – somehow, some way – I might as well do it with a smile on my face instead of a grimace. One, two, three…One, two three…
And my most recent travel – did I mention I’m going on vacation? Okay, I still need to get a little work done while I’m gone, but a little work I can definitely handle.
The morning after my dancing dream, my mountain of problems seemed more like…a mole hill of opportunities. The projects will go live, the intern will get briefed. And that OOO? It’ll get turned off in a week by a much happier Megan. One, two, three…One, two three…
Billy Idol sang, “Well there’s nothing to lose and there’s nothing to prove / I’ll be dancing with myself.”
Now that I’ve got the steps down, I think it’s time to dance.
When was the last time you felt overwhelmed, and how did you handle it?
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