I know that I am luckier than most, considering I have had the ability to move my business online this last year and that I live in a city that feels less restrictive because of its access to nature and outdoor spaces. But I would be lying if I said that I haven’t hit the proverbial wall.
I have more time than ever but am simultaneously producing less things of “value” than ever. I have little motivation to promote my business and services and although I am desperate to uplift and support, I find myself fluttering into my own self-doubt and pessimism. My anxiety is fumbling along a slackline hoping to develop balance to keep from catastrophe.
Virtual coaching has been an adjustment for a business I built on the foundation of deep, interpersonal connection. The distance a screen creates makes it more challenging (though not impossible) to maintain that type of connection and zoom fatigue is abundant for everyone that has been moved to online school, coaching, teaching and communication with family. I feel like that’s reflected in lower numbers of clients signing up for online classes and individual training. But I also know that my own resistance to this (temporary) transition has made it harder for myself.
Sometimes I feel like the ghost of the coach (and person) I used to be floats above me and coasts in and out of sight as I try and relocate her: this upbeat, encouraging and animated version of myself that I can still see but feels like a character on a cartoon playing in a different room.
She comes back, but then she takes a new, different kind of work to maintain. A sort of astral projection into a screen world that none of us were ever taught to exist in; there is no real feedback from the other side (especially in group classes) and there is a reliance on your own stamina, endorphins and music backbeat to project yourself through the screen. Plus, seeing myself on camera for hours everyday is like living in a house of mirrors sans carnival music as uninvited guests with usernames like self-criticism, comparison and imposter syndrome hack the calls and settle onto their mats with devilish brows, clown lips and mirrors of their own held at eye-level.
My resistance to promote, create and push also sits in the stands of a broken system. She watches the tug-of-war against my personal need to thrive and succeed within my career against the catastrophic loss of lives and livelihoods and safety due to systemic oppression and racism and a virus that steals breath and empties us. Personal progress and self-promotion feel trite when the world is burning before my eyes. And that thought crosses my watery gaze every time I scroll on Instagram and see another trainer flexing and posturing over a coupon code and ab circuit.
I know that it cannot be one or the other; we also need to do what it takes to survive. But I also know that I am not alone in the overwhelming feeling of frustration and devastation that thunders over my already shaken, empathetic body as another shooting, environmental disaster, lockdown, crisis, hate crime or reversal of human rights is announced within every news cycle.
And listen, okay, I know there’s good, too. I know there is love and beauty and friendship and health and more important things than a job because lord knows I have those things and I am grateful and humbled by it all.
But this wall we are hitting… It is thick. And growing. And as a year has passed since the chaos began I find myself in a standoff with who I was a year ago, the person I am now and the person I thought I would be.
We are desperate for connection but largely unmotivated to reach out for it.
We are moving to shake off the winter rust but finding our joints stiff and the rust sticky.
We are tired and exhausted and over and under stimulated and so fucking restless.
We want to see the world and hug our friends and family and feel less fear but Netflix, online shopping and a zoom call is the replacement.
I am desperate for connection but largely unmotivated to reach out for it.
I am moving to shake off the winter rust but finding my joints stiff and the rust sticky.
I am tired and exhausted and over and under stimulated and so fucking restless.
I want to see the world and hug my friends and family and feel less fear but Netflix, online shopping and a zoom call is the replacement.
The effort of maintaining a positive mental attitude “during this time” (that should be better defined as the upheaval of life as we know it) is becoming tiring. But despite that, and despite the fact that resistance, anger and frustration are all on standby waiting for a slip; an opportunity to jump into the ring and remind me of how tough the times are… Tenacity overtakes.
Tenacity is unwilling to roll backward; she acknowledges tough times but doesn’t fully crumble because of it. She observes and participates in the tug-of-war of hard conversations and passion-pursuits because she knows the importance; the more people I’m in front of with shaken vulnerability, the more chances that someone else will feel less alone and feel inspired by Tenacity and use my own brand of illustration of self-care to make change and space for caring for others.
I know people feel this because it’s echoed in my training sessions and group bootcamps — both of which have a huge focus on mental wellbeing in support of physical wellbeing and vice versa. We know that the choice of caring for ourselves through movement, connection and community helps us to show up in a big way for others. And truly, it’s those experiences and because of that community that I can keep coming back into myself.
And I acknowledge my white, able-bodied privilege. I am not fighting for my life on the street and I feel safe, mostly—and the fight inside my mind is also very real; we cannot discredit the armour that it takes to create resilience inside that battleground.
I will not concede to self-criticism, comparison and imposter syndrome. I am trying to see my creativity as valuable. I am listening less to the news and practicing gratitude daily. And if you, like me, feel the weight of the external world and the kaleidoscope chasm of your own internal world; keep going. Your work matters. Your creativity matters. Your love matters.
Keep talking about your experiences. Share and listen. Ask for help. Offer help. Have hard conversations; educate and be educated. Be selective in the information you take in and take action where you can.
The ghost of who you “were” and “could be” is still in the room; finding her and getting her back in a world of isolation and fire is tiring work. But when she settles back in and you feel the presence of all that you are… that exhale will reignite you.