When You Feel Like You Just Can’t

📷: Jon Ly

Lately I’ve just been so busy—building my brand, seeking out freelance opportunities, nannying, writing, writing, writing. I get myself into this place where getting out of bed in the morning is a challenge because I’m just so damn exhausted. I’m constantly running on four hours of sleep, trying to push myself without a caffeine boost (which is not usually successful, in case you were wondering), feeling behind and never fully prepared. Feeling like I’m trying to do so much, but really not accomplishing anything at all.

There are mornings when I want, so desperately, to write but my mind is clouded with the twenty other things I need to do and prioritize. I feel like I can’t get the words out, can’t articulate what I want, can’t make sense of the mess in my head. It’s such a hard place to be.

And as this has been happening to me, I’ve been reminded of people who have reached out to me over the last year, asking for advice in what to do when they just can’t—can’t write, can’t find their purpose, can’t get over him/her, can’t let go, can’t can’t can’t.

At the time, I was so humbled by them reaching out to me, and yet so confused. I was convinced that they weren’t trying, that they were giving up. There’s no such thing as “can’t”—this I had always believed. But lately I’ve been faced with that same question: What if I really can’t? Can’t write? Can’t get my brand going? Can’t accomplish all the things on my to-do list? What if I’m stuck?

I’ve been digging deep lately, really praying on this subject (and trying to get more sleep to ground myself, which is harder than you’d think, people!). But this is honestly a fear that runs through all of us. It’s not necessarily about what we can or can’t do, but about the larger doubt: What if we’re just not good enough?

There’s such a desire to be ‘enough’—pretty enough, smart enough, strong enough, successful enough, enough for a person, for a job, etc. There are these unspoken rules that we have to act, be, and think a certain way in order to be successful, and even bigger rules in our own minds of the kind of man/woman we want to become.

But enough with the expectations. Sometimes we just have to live, to breathe, to exist in the day-to-day.

This is what I’m trying to remind myself of. When I’m faced with these doubts, with these “cant’s” I’m trying to pull myself back to reality. I don’t have to be the absolute best at everything I touch; I don’t have to know or accomplish everything I set out to in one single day. I don’t have to put so much pressure on myself to do the work of four people when I’m just one.

And I’m not going to be any less successful if I slow down or take a break.

Sometimes when we take a step back, a step away we liberate ourselves from what’s unrealistic and holding us back. It’s not about perfection, but about being true to our hearts. And sometimes figuring this out means abandoning everything we thought we were ‘supposed’ to do.

The truth is, a “can’t” really is an excuse because we are so capable of everything we set out to do. But we don’t have to do all those things in some crazy timeframe.

Having goals to reach is positive; being constantly stressed out by them is not.

You are going to have days where you’re eyelids are halfway glued together, where the dishes are piling up in the sink, where the inspiration doesn’t come or the job you have feels exhausting or you’re stuck in this place wondering what you should do next.

Don’t panic. This happens. And yet, don’t limit yourself by the doubts in your head, either. You do have the ability to change your situation, to make moves, to get out of the crappy place you’re in—but you don’t have to do this immediately (and sometimes you can’t!). Sometimes it takes time to figure out who you’re becoming, to find the words to write the poem you’ve had in your mind for so long, to get the courage to leave an unhealthy situation, to build a brand.

I’m not sure what’s in your way right now, what’s holding you back, what’s making you feel like you’re unworthy—but those are just obstacles, and obstacles will move when you face them (even if that movement’s slow).

Don’t discredit yourself for what you’ve accomplished so far, but don’t be afraid to continue forward, even when the road seems overwhelming. One step, one “I can” at a time, empowering yourself even when you’re in over your head.

You’ll get there.

If no one has told you this today, you are enough.