Last week, I kept finding myself exhausted and I wasn’t sure what was going on. I did have a busy week, filled with things like video shoots and events and subbing classes. I also had a few really late nights and definitely lost a good chunk of sleep. (It also happened to be the time of the month…which never helps). But a little busy-ness and a period has never stopped me before, and yet I kept finding myself knocked out on my couch in the middle of the day (and I am not a napper).
About two years ago I discovered something about myself, that you guys may understand, or have a similar pattern: when life gets rough, I get sleepy. In my younger years, I went through some phases where I was quite depressed; during those time periods I would sleep like 10 hours a night, sometimes more! In recent years, and when I discovered this, it’s a little less blatant, but it’s still present. I noticed one day as I was getting ready to perform my choreography, that for some reason instead of feeling all the normal feelings like excitement, nervousness, etc, all I could feel was sleepiness. Like my eyes could barely hold themselves open. I thought, “hm, that’s weird. I slept plenty. I had coffee. What’s going on?” Later that week or month, I was in yoga and noticed that when I’m in an uncomfortable pose, one that I have to breathe through, I often nod off. Me trying to meditate, was just a snooze fest! So I put the pieces together - when the going gets tough, Jessie curls up and goes to sleep. Oops.
So back to the present. This past week I was feeling really tired, and I could tell that it wasn’t just the lack of sleep and the busy-ness. So I investigated. What’s going on? Am I avoiding something? Am I afraid of something? Am I attached to some outcome? Upon first glance - no dice. I ran into a couple of options, but they didn’t feel right. So I kept going home and resting as needed, and continued on.
Sunday, literally as I was teaching yoga to my dancers, I think I mentioned something about dancing or choreographing, and it hit me! This last week I focused on my choreography career a LOT. I filmed two pieces of choreography, I put out my choreography reel to the public, I worked on an EPK to send to my agents and potential clients, I looked at studios/events/people to submit to, and I reached out to a couple of connections in regards to building my future. Pursuing this realm for me is scary because I worry that I am not experienced enough/reputable enough to build a career. I worry I haven’t done enough yet to try to do what I want to do, and I get overwhelmed. So I get sleepy, because those are really uncomfortable thoughts, and rather than sitting with them, my body is like, nope! Shutting down.
Here’s the magical thing - I realized it, and I was free. I’m now awake, alert, and ready to work. I am aware of my insecurities, but they don’t rule me, or hold me back, or make me sleepy. Wow.
What do you do when things get tough? When a difficult task lands on your desk at work, or you push yourself through scary territory? It might not be sleepiness, it could be that you run and hide, or you go workout a lot, or you eat a lot of pizza, but notice it. Become aware of it. It is a warning sign. It’s your body saying I DON’T LIKE THIS. And your job is to catch it. Often, once you realize you’re doing it, your need to do it disappears!
Now a little caveat- I was talking to a friend just after I had this realization, and she shared that she feels the same thing when she doesn’t want to do something at work. She gets really sleepy when a shitty task gets handed to her. She’s observant and self-aware so she realizes what’s happening, and yet she can’t seem to shake the sleepiness and get it done. It gets so overwhelming that a nap must occur first.
So sometimes it doesn’t disappear just from realizing it. What’s the difference? Why not? In my experience, this is because in my friends case, she doesn’t actually want to be doing her job. It’s something she does because she needs to make money, and it’s not too terrible, so she continues to do it. But for her, sleep is a great way to get out of doing things (haha - subconsciously! Not intentionally). For me, sleep is defending against a fear that is not worth worrying about, is really annoying and is getting in the way of me doing what I really want to be doing.
See the difference? In my case, I know that I want to continue, and move forward despite the discomfort. In her case - the discomfort is a sign that she may actually want to look at if and how she wants to continue.
Listen to your body. Notice when it’s trying to tell you it’s uncomfortable, whether that’s a stomach ache during a scary meeting, or a need to get drunk after a long week. Sometimes, the body’s reaction will disappear when you discover you don’t need it - our mind is extremely powerful like that. Other times, your body will be the key to opening the door to a whole new career path/relationship/adventure that you didn’t even know you wanted. Not to mention that staying present to this stuff helps prevent and heal illness, injury, and chronic sleepiness! Seriously.
Listen to it. It’s there for you.