Admitting Humanity

I am an overachiever. I am a hard worker, and I love my job. I love being active and doing things. I love traveling, eating, running, drinking, writing. I love so many things. The hardest thing for me to admit? I cannot do everything. While I am quite super, I am not a machine. I am not invincible.

I. AM. HUMAN.


I love my job, but it is taxing on my body. I jump time zones. I board multiple planes on a regular basis. I eat standing up in three-inch heels, and usually have a very short window of opportunity to drop by the lavatory before the next call bell rings. I fling snacks like throwing stars and pour gallons of soft drinks daily, doing my utmost to ensure my customers are treated fairly, equally, and most importantly like genuine human beings. Growing up in an airline family, I was groomed at an early age to understand that passengers are family because the flight crew I traveled with always took the greatest care of their guests.

I mention this because I take great pride in my work and I love being a part of my company’s front line team. I love being a part of my passengers’ travel experience, I enjoy laughing with my crew members, and yes, I love enjoying my downtime once I arrive at a layover. Yet, some days, I am finding myself frustrated, restless, or simply being a bump on a log. It’s been several weeks since I have written purely because my body and mind demanded a time out.

I have friends with varied interests. With my irregular work schedule, I’m often commuting to Atlanta for work while the girls are gearing up for cocktail hour, my friends are lacing up for a race, or my parents are preparing brunch. I love seeing my social media feeds teeming with photos from gallery openings, birthday parties, gala events, gloriously long layovers, running event, foodie previews, and smiles from my friends sprinkled all over the map. Yes, some days, I am jealous that they are having a blast while I am trapped at an airport with a gate house packed with unhappy travelers because lightning is threatening to roast our ramp team. (No, I do not feel that the lives of my coworkers are worth someone’s bag being loaded up in the rain while they are standing in two inches of standing water while surrounded by steel carts and vehiciles.)

Naturally, when I finally get back home and an event overlaps my time at home, I am compelled to participate no matter how utterly knackered I feel. Why? The illustrious Fear of Missing Out. My body protests, but my stubborn mind presses on, until I scrape past the tipping point. Then I wind up wasting a day or three sitting around the house where my biggest achievements tend to be getting a shower and putting on a bra, all the while my body sighs “I told you so,” in exasperation. Friends, while I love you dearly, and I want to be there, please do not get on me if I can’t, especially if it involves going to an event with an astronomical number of people in a noisy place.

I offer up this alternative. Let’s make plans, just (a small group of) us. Big groups often stress me out when I am not running on a sleep deficiency, and it’s exacerbated by my desire to trying to juggle the social needs of multiple people at the same time. While I love my large social circles, I have gone as far to issue a request that when I am making plans to see people that it doesn’t blossom into a hydra with multiple heads. Why? I spend my work days tending to hundreds of people, so when it comes to spending time with friends, less is more. Yes, including a smaller, more intimate group number.

I’m going on a friendship makeover. Recently, I have learned that a substantial portion of the negativity dissolving my resolve to be social is due to toxicity. I can’t even say it’s “toxic friendships” because a true relationships aren’t toxic. They are intended to be healthy and happy. If you cannot be happy for me and supportive of me, consider reevaluating our friendship. If passive-aggression and backhanded comments (no, those aren’t compliments), are your go-to when interacting with me, don’t let them them out. This includes texts, voice mails, replies on social media, and commentary while I’m attempting to have a meaningful conversation. I am not a cry baby. I am not a bitch. I am not weak.

I am thirty-five and a professional, hard-working adult. I have goals, dreams, and the occasional bad day. I cannot afford to waste time and energy drowning in negativity. If any of this resonates with you, take a moment to consider why. Look in that ole mirror. What are you projecting onto others? Why are you tearing others down instead of building up those you consider important in your life? I need the people in my life to realize that “everything isn’t about them.” A solid example is birthdays. The birthday celebrant is the main eventer. Not you. Perhaps we need to come to terms that we are outgrowing one another? That’s okay, too. It is not easy, by any means, to come to terms with, but I simply cannot indulge such behavior any longer.

When I pack my schedule tight, sleep tends to be the first thing I neglect with healthy eating choices at a close second. If I can squeeze in that run… If I move A, I can do B & C, too… I could wake up earlier today and tackle X, Y, & Z… Sleep keeps me looking pretty. Sleep keeps me at the top of my game. Sleep is incredible necessary, so battling with my I-can-do-it-all approach to life can reach epic proportions. I need to get in the habit of powering down earlier in the evenings. Being so wired up, I find myself struggling to get to sleep because my mind is still cycling through to do lists, plans for the following day, upcoming races that require far more training than I am actually doing, and stress. I’ve been having rather restless sleep as of late, but I realize it is my own doing. I need to commit to a regular sleep schedule when I am not flying because with time zone jumping, my body can get very wonky.

Lack of sleep also leads to me getting very irritable and eventually sick. My stress and fatigue openly projects itself on my face as I have zero poker face. Unlike my time in Japan, I cannot wear a face shield to cover up my fever blisters when I get sick in the winter. I do not have the luxury of calling out sick because a nasty pimple flourishes into a germy volcano of face plague. I cannot shut myself in a teeny cabin in the woods and be a hermit until the illness runs its course. If I don’t fly, I don’t make money. If I don’t make money, I cannot live the fulfilling life I have built for myself. I do my best to avoid catching colds, but like kindergarten teachers, flight attendants work in “one of the dirtiest jobs in the business.” Again, I am human. I do get sick. I’ll fight my damnest to resist the bugs, but the biggest issue is coming to terms with actually being sick. In a job where the office moves at over 500 miles per hour, it is hard to slow down. My job is not hard, but it can be harder on my body than I am willing to admit.

Let’s be clear. I do not medicate while I am flying, unless I am taking Aleve for menstrual cramps or DayQuil/NyQuil for when I am actually sick. At the onset of flu season, I do get my flu shot, and I do keep Emergen-C and AirBorne in my flight tote just in case. I do not regularly take melatonin nor do I feel the need to get a prescription for Ambien. The only prescription drugs I carry are my EpiPen for my allergies and my birth control. I would rather saddle up with a cup of tea and honey, than medicate.

On layovers, I regularly use a sleep mask and a white noise app on my iPhone to help lull me to sleep. Even on a short layover, I want to make responsible decisions to avoid undercutting my work performance. Also, I am dialing back how much I mainline caffeine during the daytime and how many adult beverages I enjoy on my layovers. I’ve noticed that despite tackling 100 ounces of water daily while flying, these drink selections are sabotaging my progress by dehydrating me. Food choices also contribute to how my body adjusts to flying, and while I love my salty treats and sweet eats, there’s nothing worse than contending with bloating and a sugar hangover the next morning.

I invested in a new lunch tote for work. Last summer when I was participating in the Ideal Protein Protocol, Mom helped me prepare my lunches, and even with six days of flying, I simply needed to forage for salad. This not only saved money, but also pushed me toward weight loss success. Unofrtunately, when I concluded the program, I became careless and let my old eating habits return. I need to rediscover my discipline and stick to my guns. Lately, I have been rereading Alicia Silverstone’ The Kind Diet, and researching markets in Orlando area where I could find healthy, non-meat protein alternatives which (most importantly) travel well. No, I am not giving up meat, but I feel my diet has become too protein heavy which can become rather expensive.

With Walktober Teammates and my running pals, I want to get myself back into racing shape. For those regularly traveling, I would love to learn what are your go to snacks that you have to pack. I have seen passengers pack complete meals, but I would love to get some additional tricks to help keep food fresh while traveling. Those working on cutting back (or the brave souls cutting out) sugar, carbs, alcohol, what healthy alternatives have you discovered? (Please, no mention of Diet Sodas.) Do have you have any new discoveries you care to share? I’m a foodie with a running problem, and lately the problem is that I haven’t been running. What activities do you gravitate toward with regard to clearing out your head or to help improve your body? What do you do to combat insomnia? What reward system do you have in place for when you accomplish those smaller goals?

I know this post isn’t my usual well organized, photo-heavy happy review, but I’ve tried shoving my camera in my head to very little success. I am human, and now I am doing something very human (and rather hard for me to do)– I am reaching out and asking for help. It is okay to ask for help.

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5 comments

  1. Meghan · October 10, 2014

    Love you 🙂

    Like

    • Karen P. · October 12, 2014

      Thank you so miuch, Meghan! It means the world to me that you’re in my corner and have got my back. ox

      Like

  2. Céline · October 10, 2014

    Karen, just think about what you want and what you desire cause nobody else will, not even the best intentionate partner. That is what will keep you sane and healthy and your beautifyl lovely self. and alsowhile you need to be conscious about it all, don’t think about it too much 😉 Love you 🙂

    Like

    • Karen P. · October 12, 2014

      It isn’t about having a loving partner who understands me. I’ve got that and then some. It’s more friends, acquaintances, and colleagues who are suddenly singing a different tune with regard to our relationships. I left high school nearly 20 years ago, so I am through dealing with childish drama. Posts like this where I have the need to express my feelings and establish my stance are hard because I’m often misconstrued as being angry. I’m not angry. Disappointed, but coming to the realization that it does happen. That’s the important thing about emotional wellness and mental health. While the heart wants what it wants, sometimes it takes the head a little longer to logic and sift the fact from emotions.

      Like

  3. Pingback: 2014 Rear View | Read Run Write with Kahrenheit

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