stop pressuring me

January 22, 2010 |  Category:   life


Who’s doing the pressuring you say? None other than myself. So much pressure, but this is how I am, even as a kid, always. I’m realizing that these project goals that I have set and my current inability to meet them, whether because of state of mind, time, illness, other commitments, whatever…have shrouded me in a fog of guilt. It isn’t a new feeling – I’ve learned to let go of some of that at some point along the way because I used to be a lot worse. You know, one of those people who couldn’t sit still, who thought that laying around watching TV was a waste of time, and so I’d have to multi-task with 3 other things (okay, I still do that). But having kids took some of that irrational thinking away. For the first time in my life, I was okay with “just” hanging out and doing nothing. So I really need to push these feelings of guilt that are starting to rear its head around the edges again.

I recently had a great night out with my friend Lindsey, who is a fellow neighborhood mom who I’ve known for years, but is also an artist and lighting designer. Aside from her amazing, and I mean, AMAZING work, what I admire about her is that I really feel like she’s figured out the work/life balance thing. She can go to her studio, do her work, stop when it’s time, and come home. This is how she wants it to be and this has been her priority. She *makes* it happen. Talking with her about the insecurities, the neurosis, risk taking and whether or not it is a learned or inherent personality trait and just basic shop talk about being an independent designer was just what I needed. Even though she is very prolific, she’s always seems very relaxed and organic about her work flow.

So whose timeline am I on? Why such pressure to get things done all at once? A little light goes off, but sometimes you need a friend to help you see it. Nobody is putting that pressure on you. Nobody else cares if you tackle that project now or later. I used to feel bad that we weren’t doing more events and flea dates as all of our other Brooklyn foodie friends. They were seemingly everywhere, doing this thing and that, but we’ve come to grips with the fact that we’re at a different stage in life than they are. It makes sense. We’re not 28 anymore.

And here we are, already approaching the end of January. I have only been working sporadically the last few weeks, but I have yet to touch anything on my projects or to do list.

And that is ok.


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  • Nina January 22, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Let me just say that Claudine looks so asian here! And Mia really is the ‘most american’ asian girl!

  • Andrew Thornton January 22, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    I feel you on this one. Sure some of the deadlines that I’ve established were trickled down from the higher powers that be, but a lot of the pressure I put myself under is self-inflicted. You know, I used to think that New York was the thing that abused me… that roughed me up spiritually… then I realize it was me. I abuse myself. I set all these impossible deadlines and projects and I expect that somehow, while trying to be human, I’ll finish everything. Sometimes I come close, and that’s probably the most dangerous. Because then you always think back to it… the time you almost finished everything on your list.

    … ugh… back to the list. Will I never learn?

  • Anna @ D16 January 22, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    I love your blog, Jenna. So much. Every single day.

    I just want to let you know that, since I’m bad about commenting. Your posts always resonate with me, though, and on more occasions than I can count your words have helped me put into perspective things that would otherwise be unbearably frustrating.

    And thanks for the subtle MJ ref, too, of course. 😉

  • Jenna January 22, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    andrew, I don’t know! I’m still learning, but I do feel like I had that lightbulb moment after talking with my friend. I feel like some amount of weight off my shoulders is gone.

    Anna 🙂

  • martha January 22, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    I always wonder how people like your friend lindsey do it. It’s so hard for me to stop working when it’s “time”. When I’m designing I feel like I need to work through an idea and if I’m in the middle of something it’s almost painful to stop.
    Sometimes the work isn’t going well, and those are the times I need to walk away and do something else, but those times rarely fall into a 9-5 schedule.
    Back when I didn’t have kids it didn’t matter, but now I want to be “present” when I’m with them, and so often I find myself thinking about work when I’m with them.
    I logically understand the idea of putting pressure on yourself, and the need to stop doing it, but for me it’s often physically impossible.

  • Linda January 22, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Hi Jenna, I’ve been a quiet reader of your blog for a few months now. First of all, you probably already hear this a lot but your blog and everything about it is so comforting to read. Not to mention your choice of pictures always seems to fit so effortlessly with that day’s entry, regardless if they relate or not.

    Anyway, I just read this entry, and I wanted to comment to say hello, and to say that I know exactly what you mean about everything.

    I’m currently in the process of opening a small online shop to sell paper goods, and it’s daunting to think of all the work that goes into the prep process, so I tend to go in over-drive, multitasking mode in order to meet those goals. And it doesn’t help that I have a 9-5, so that cuts my time even more! But I agree with you in that there is no rush, and that if it’s something we love to do, then it shouldn’t feel like it’s being forced on us, or work (even though at times it’s necessary).

  • Sam January 22, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    It really is OK!
    I’ve had more business this month than I expected (not complaining), but it’s left me with piles of sketches and new ideas that haven’t been touched, much less finished. I think the key for me is going to be setting aside one day every week or two that is strictly for focusing on new ideas. I’m hoping that will work…

  • Chai Ling January 22, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    Love this post. “sometimes you need a friend to help you see it”… and your post just did that to me 🙂 Thanks for sharing this, Jenna.

  • Jenn January 22, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    I LOVE your blog. I read it religiously and Claudine is quite possibly the most adorable child i’ve ever seen. Keep up the posts!

  • Marya January 23, 2010 at 6:51 am

    Good for you Jenna! Many of us grow up with the aim of pleasing those around us. Some of us with time come to realise that it may be time to leave all these expectations aside and be the leading ladies in our lives. And how freeing is it, if also sometimes a little scary to discover you’re the one in charge! I think with me personally, being first born potentiated the need to perfect and please, but that’s my life. It’s not the same for everyone of course. Good luck to you!

  • Ruth January 23, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Of course! We are always our own worst critics . . . I can sympathize here.

  • Christina January 23, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Hi Jenna,

    I’ve been a reader of your blog for some time. I love your images of your family and work. Lately, reading your words is like hearing myself think. Sometimes I too wonder how others are able to begin a task, work diligently, and then step away when they need to. If I’m not doing three things at once (or ten) I feel unproductive, irresponsible, disorganized and just all around bad. However, I’ve been noticing lately that on most of the blogs I follow by design-minded women working to balance a home, work and family AND time for self, the feeling is the same…the pressure to preform and the fear of mediocrity or just not being good enough. Maybe there is something to be said for those trying to create, produce and accomplish their way through life….the feeling that the standards (however impossibly high) you set for yourself are necessary in determining your own self worth and achievement. I know it is that way for me…always have to be making something better or doing more! Anyway, sorry for the rant here, but thanks for making me feel more sane. Good luck in striving to do less but reap more reward…and allowing that to be “OK”!

  • Jenna January 23, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    I am more like you. I cannot stop working when I am on a roll, I will even skip eating dinner with the family if I’m doing something. I’ll stay up till 4am or whenever it takes. When I am designing for a client, I wouldn’t let myself sleep until the design was in some sort of “resolved” state. I am always thinking about work or projects when I’m with the kids. Is this really healthy though? Of course you can only answer this for yourself, but for me, probably no. I don’t think so. Like you said, it doesn’t matter when we didn’t have kids, but now…this is part of the guilt, because I seem to be preoccupied even when I’m with them. I guess that is why I have always admired my friend. I think having a studio outside the home helps immensely to separate work and home life. Like everything else, you have to work at it *if* this is what you want. But if a clear definition between work and home is not that important, than that’s fine too, right?

  • Kira January 23, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Ok, this is totally random, but I happened upon your blog by accident and saw the little girl in the monkey up there and had to do a double-take because I thought it was my daughter at first! Of course I immediately skimmed through the rest of the blog (OF COURSE) and verified that it was indeed another child (who actually doesn’t even look like Evelyn), but it was such a jolt that I had to share.

    And now I’m going to keep reading, because your blog is fantastic.

  • lesley January 27, 2010 at 12:37 am

    another one to hit close to home for me! i have been thinking lately about commitments and expectations. i definitely have a tendency to over-commit, and also to place perceived expectations on myself for my work and my personal life. i am not sure why this happens, i think i get caught up thinking about what others ‘may’ want or need from me, and that somehow becomes an expectation in my mind. I am trying hard to find a balance between work time + family time, without losing my sanity. good luck to you.