Emotional Bandwidth 

The last couple of weeks have gone by in a blur. I’ve switched jobs, seen a dear friend marry the love of her life, and parted ways with an old friend.  
 
In the midst of so much transition, I’ve been a flurry of emotions. With work alone, I spent the first two days questioning my competence. It was a moment-by-moment thing. At times, I felt confident. But then, something would happen, and I’d ask myself if I made a mistake by taking on something new. It was overwhelming and the comfort of my old office seemed to beckon me back even though I had been desiring a change while I was there.  However, today (day 7 of my new gig) I was delivered some peace. One of the people I report to commended me for doing a great job picking things up and making the role my own already, all while still wrapping up loose ends with my old team. He said that he was happy to have my energy on board and told me that I was learning fast. I also received emails from a team outside of our office that echoed similar sentiments. People noted that they had apparently heard “good” things about me and were eager to collaborate. All of these reassurances made me stop and remember that I’ve only been with my new team for a single week! I knew I had to give myself some credit and permission to pause.  As someone who preaches mindfulness, I was reminded that I sometimes struggle to stay present myself – and that’s okay, so long as I can recognize that and get centered again.  
 
Outside of work, I also had to say that goodbye to that old friend. It wasn’t dramatic or anything, but it surprised me. After an awkward reunion several weeks ago, I found myself falling into patterns of the past that were unhealthy. For the most part, I was able to take notice early on and put a stop to them, but one conversation left me feeling especially unsure of myself…  
 
He asked if I had been linked to, or even just developed feelings for anyone in the years since we last spoke. To be clear, this person and I had never dated ourselves; though there was a chapter in where we almost did until he changed his mind and decided to pursue a few other women instead. Despite his choice, he used to ask me about my involvement with other men, wanting to make sure that I was still available, just in case. So, during this most recent chat, when he asked me such a deeply personal question, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat transported to the past. Not wanting to lie, I told him the truth. No, I haven’t really been with anyone, but yes, I’ve had feelings develop. That admission was the catalyst for a barrage of questioning: who was the most recent person? What was his name? What did he do? What was it about him that I liked so much?  

Feeling like that was all just a bit too personal, I focused only on providing a response to his last question. When I did, he said he appreciated my reasoning and then went on about a woman he had just begun seeing. A pretty woman. Someone who was very smart; witty. But weirdly enough, he told me that he didn’t expect it to go anywhere, so he wasn’t putting too much stock in it. Nonetheless, I wished him well and told him I hoped he would be happy. And I meant it. 
 
Leaving that conversation, I noticed that I felt somewhat drained. Maybe it was because this was on a day where I was still feeling overwhelmed from work. Maybe it was because the nature of his questions made me feel vulnerable – like he would try to convince me not to care about someone else like he used to do all those years by saying things like, “are you sure about this one – why bother?” Maybe it was all of the above. I could only hear one phrase in my head when all was said and done: “I don’t have the emotional bandwidth for this.”  
 
That was a phrase I had heard uttered recently by a new teammate. And it stuck. I realized it perfectly described how I had been feeling from the culmination of these personal and professional experiences. So, to get back some energy and recharge, I made some decisions.  
 
I’ve started to sleep a bit better. I’m giving myself kudos for managing an intense volume of work for two different roles. I decided to keep my communication with that old friend to a minimum – not out of malice, but in the interest of self-preservation and maintaining peace, and I decided to keep responding to things in ways that don’t violate my boundaries. 

This last week or so has been chaotic. But for so many reasons, I’m grateful. Topping the list of reasons why I’m grateful is that I’m beginning to accept that like all human beings, I too, have an “emotional bandwidth.”  To keep my whole system from crashing, I can see now that this week had to happen. The stress, the self-doubt, the fatigue, which has all been blended in with a strange mix of joy and excitement… it just had to happen. 

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