Life Is What Happens

by Susan Pogorzelski on October 21, 2009 · 8 comments


Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans. – John Lennon

This blog has always been a personal outlet for me — this is the space where I wonder, I dream, I think, I challenge, I rediscover, I uncover. I write here, asking the questions of myself (and of others) that I need, in order to better understand myself, to grow, to figure out this life.

However, I’ve become tired of asking questions.

It’s time I find some answers.

I’ve been having trouble dealing with things lately, so overwhelmed with a need to be responsible coupled with a concern for my own health. I’ve tried ignoring it, tried pushing forward — because things need to get done, I have a responsibility to a new job, and there have been opportunities that I’ve been loathe to pass up, afraid of what passing them up might mean.

Ok. Even I know how ridiculous that sounds.

But I’m having trouble coming to terms with this, seeing all of the red flags, the warning signs, listening to the advice that I know to be true.

These past two weeks I’ve been unable to do much of anything outside of those hours at work. If you follow me on Twitter, you already know all of this. I talk about it, I complain about it.

All because, truth be told, I’m a little bit afraid of it — afraid of the not knowing. At least with knowing, you can fix it, change it, make it better. The not knowing, it seems, is always worse.

I’ve found that this has been true in all aspects in my life — it’s why I value honesty; it’s why I find myself on the side of hating change.

I have a lot of fear built up inside of me, but I don’t walk around afraid of the world. There’s a strength there too, I like to believe, that balances that fear, quells it, buries it. It’s what helps me push forward when I’m afraid to leave my comfort zone; it’s what let’s me take the leap and let down my guard especially among people I care about; it’s what encourages me to move forward with dreams, even though I’m hesitant, too, of potential success.

But this?

This is a bit different.

This I can’t ignore and push through, no matter how hard I try. And there have been a wide-range of emotions to accompany it. Frustration at not having answers. Relief that I have my family around me to support me as they do. Stress because I know I have so much I could be doing, so much to get done, so much that I want to do. And guilt because I just…can’t.

It’s not a matter of not wanting to. It’s a matter of not being able to — wanting to keep up with opportunities that seem so easy to accomplish but that expend all of my energy, wanting to take care of others instead of them taking care of me. I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to let anyone down.

How do you say no to something that feels like such an important step to achieving your goals? How do you take care of yourself while still maintaining responsibility? How do you stop feeling selfish in needing your loved ones when you want them there for you?

How do you keep from disappointing others…and yourself?

There are answers here…It just might take me awhile to figure them out.

It might take me awhile to admit what I haven’t been wanting to hear.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Amanda Linehan October 22, 2009

Hi Susan – I have found myself at times, too, trying to do so many things at once, that I just can’t do. At one point or another I just break. But in the breaking, I find that something gets “stripped” away from me that leaves me feeling “lighter.” So, in some ways, failure shows me what is unnecessary, and really, I’m always glad to get rid of the unnecessary. 🙂


Tom October 22, 2009

I know what you mean. This month I’ve been trying to write more, do a 30 day challenge with yoga (basically do yoga 30 times in 30 days), work 35-40 hours a week and, this week, take care of two cats and a lot more chores than I’d normally do, since a house normally run by 3 is being run by me this week.

And today I took the day fully off. I was supposed to go to yoga twice, to make up for a day I missed, instead I stayed in, relaxed, felt a bit guilty but got a few things done.

I’m telling you this partly cause I feel guilty. 😛 But also to illustrate that there’s a difference between what you think you want to do, and what you really want to do. I do enjoy yoga, but not all the time, not as much as I have been doing it, and I needed a real day off.

If you have to say no to something, if you’re able to say no to it, then maybe it’s not as important an opportunity as you think it is. Maybe you want to do it for reasons that aren’t all what you’d think they’d be. And maybe it’s just not the right time for them.

I think this comment is getting a little rambly, so I’ll end here. But take care of you, first and foremost. Only by first taking care of yourself can you take care of others, and move forward. Some days, that’s a taller order than others.


Positively Present October 23, 2009

I love the honesty in this post. To avoid disappointing others (and myself), I try my best to be myself and to do what makes me happy. When I’m doing what makes me happy and what makes me feel fulfilled, things usually fall into place.


Sarah October 25, 2009

Maybe there’s a balance, and maybe there’s the fact that we sometimes have to take baby steps before we can run. I think that our generation is too absorbed with wanting it all right NOW that we forget that sometimes the gratification comes from working towards something.

If taking on responsibilities is too much for right now, then scale back. Load up again when you’re feeling better, but be cautious not to push yourself. Work up slowly to having it all by testing yourself and what you can handle. Recognize what you need and who can help you get there and make it happen. And be aware that sometimes it’s okay to fail. How else are we supposed to learn?


Susan Pogorzelski - admin October 26, 2009

I haven’t been able to comment individually yet, but I do want to let everyone know that I’ve read your comments and am so grateful for your support, your advice, and you sharing your own experiences. I’ll be sure to reply as soon as I’m able. Thanks everyone!


Susan Pogorzelski - admin November 3, 2009

Amanda: I love your comment because it’s so simple and so true. It really does force you to prioritize because eventually something has to give. I think I’m beginning to realize that, realizing that I can say no and it won’t be the end of opportunity (or the world, imagine that!). There’s only so much opportunity and responsibility you can take on before you hit that inevitable breaking point. I hope that I’m beginning to learn, as you have, what is really necessary and what isn’t. Sorry this has been so delayed, but thanks, Amanda!

Tom: Rambly comments are always ok 🙂 I love your goals — they seem doable and healthy and that’s always a positive thing. But I do hear you about that feeling guilty part when you miss it, even only once. In some small way, it feels like you’re giving up. In some small way, it might even feel like a bit of a failure because you couldn’t keep up with it. To go along with what Amanda says above, your thoughts are interesting and I’d never thought about it this way before — maybe breaking (or needing a break) really does go to show what you want vs. what you think you want, as you say. Maybe I do need to reevaluate some things before I am able to move forward in taking care of others and myself. You’ve got me thinking, Tom. Thanks for that! Here’s hoping we can both learn what we want vs. what we think we want.


Susan Pogorzelski - admin November 3, 2009

Dani: I’m actually glad that so much time has passed since this post because it has really given me the chance to think about your comment, which I love. Truth be told, you’re becoming a positive example for me. For a little while now, although I’ve essentially “rediscovered” myself and am not in the same place as I was a few short months ago, I still find myself sometimes a bit lost in terms of trying to do for others and take care of myself. I’m really trying to not worry so much about what others think (a huge insecurity that stems from wanting to find others happy). I’ve learned, and am still in the process of learning, that thing called self-responsibility. And that it doesn’t just apply to me but that others have to be responsible for their own actions, their own reactions, and that we have a responsibility to ourselves first and foremost. Thanks!


Susan Pogorzelski - admin November 3, 2009

Sarah: I completely, completely agree. We’re in a time of now — not just our generation, but our society as a whole. Convenience, ease, time-efficiency are the things that are valued. It doesn’t help that success at younger and younger ages are heralded, or that success period is quantified in amounts of money or valuables. As such, it makes us a little crazy at times, concerned when it’s not happening on our set timeline, makes you think you’re missing something or, worse, that you’ve somehow completely failed. I’ve said this before that we’re on our own path and we have our own timeline — I get that, understand that, recognize that. But there are times where it never really sinks in because I think I’m ready for it. Only, maybe I’m not really ready for it at all. It’s a shame that our smaller successes seem to be eclipsed, so competitive have we become in wanting to be the first/best. I hope I remember what is important, to recognize everything I’ve done, to work hard but not to push myself. And I’m glad that I have you to give me that reality check when I so need it. Thanks, Sarah — for these words and for your friendship. Just in case I don’t say it enough 🙂


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