Emotional Labor

We don’t often give a lot of credit to emotional labor. We sort of shrug it off as this thing that’s really nothing because we don’t have a tangible result from it.

It’s not.

I have to remind myself of that often.

Reason being is I probably do a lot more emotional labor than the average person per day, and it’s an exhausting process, but because I’m without a resulting product, I feel guilty. I feel like I still should be able to write, I should be able to film, I should still have energy to create and clean, and do everything else.

But you don’t.

And I hate that. Because that overly critical voice we all have in our heads makes us feel guilty for actually taking care of ourselves. For actually taking a moment to stop and smell the roses.

It’s a little silly, really. We urge the people we love to take care of themselves, but when it comes to our own personal care… we hold ourselves to this strange impossible standard.

I am, in general, sort of the party cleric in my group of friends. I don’t dislike this. I actually really love being someone people feel safe to speak to. But being that shoulder to lean on… that does take emotional energy.

We live in an extremely volatile time, especially if you’re in the US. So much is in a constant threat from both legislation and the random violence that plagues this country. Our friends, our health, our family, our lives… That takes energy. Fighting with staunch supporters of hateful legislation? Energy.

If you’re fighting for a better world, even if it’s just by talking to and educating the people around you.

So much energy.

Working with or living with toxic people. Energy.

All of it.

No wonder I’m so tired all the time lately…

Two weeks ago, I lost a friend. I hadn’t remotely healed from the two who’d we lost barely over a month prior. I’ve spent intervals fighting with folks about why LGBT rights matter, why they’re being threatened. I’ve fought with people about gun control, transphobia, health, reproductive rights.

I’ve had passing but still taxing disagreements or fights with people I care about.

I work next to a very toxic human at my day job.

It’s exhausting. And yet, I find myself feeling guilty. And I mentally shame myself for not being able to do it. Which just perpetuates this low energy spiral.

And the reason I’m telling you this, is that I hope, you possibly see your own patterns in my behavior. And you take a moment to stop and think, “Man… we gotta stop doing this.”

Because man… we gotta stop doing this.

I’m behind on my writing. I haven’t had energy for it much. This weekend, I fully intend on taking a long walk and being a bit off the grid. Do a little world hopping maybe. If I get some writing done, fantastic. If not? FANTASTIC.

Just because people can’t see that you’ve done something, doesn’t mean you haven’t. Emotional labor is a lot of work. And it’s valid. And you do not have to have a physical tangible product at the end of the day to validate that it was worth your while.

You still deserve that time to refresh… whatever that means to you.

And I say this… because gods know I’m still learning.

I’ll always still be learning.

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