This is a personal post. I won’t be offended if you skip it. But as always, this little tiny space on the internet, is my place for the thoughts I carry with me and the thoughts I have right now are about this tiny space and the role I play.
Two weeks ago, I was working from home, probably checking email, Twitter, Facebook, or something else that required me to focus on my screen. My kids were home, doing something, and Oskar, my five-year-old, walked up to me and said, “Mom, you work a lot.” He then walked away.
For the past two weeks, these words have hit me hard, because he is right. I work a lot. I work all the time. I work early in the morning, in the car when my husband is driving, late at night after my kids go to bed. When I check social media, my mood changes. I withdraw from my family. I let the words of strangers affect my family as I get caught up in emotions I don’t need to have. I have lost count of how many times I have had to catch my husband up on something that happened on social media which is now pulling me away from my family. And if I am not working, I am thinking about work. About everything I need to take care of online, the comments, the tweets, the posts, the little stuff that comes with doing the work that I have chosen to do. Not my full-time teaching job, but my self-chosen extra work that has brought me into the lives of many others.
And while I am honored beyond words that anyone chooses to spend any time with any of my words, my ideas, or my projects, I also have no balance. I have high blood pressure. I have started having panic attacks. In fact, I had one earlier today started by an email.
Before all of this, this blog being read by others, this living in a very small public eye, I never had panic attacks. I didn’t fully understand what it meant to feel like you have disappointed strangers. I didn’t fully understand what it feels like to be seen as someone who had all of the right answers, or to be seen as someone who should just learn to keep her mouth shut. I never brought my computer with me on vacation. I didn’t need unlimited data just to keep up with all of the notifications, wants, questions and needs that pile up. I didn’t look at my to be read shelf as work.
I knew what it meant to be just Pernille, a goofy, introverted, yet outspoken woman who loved her life with all of her heart. Not Pernille Ripp who somehow has become someone I can’t live up to be.
Last week, I was supposed to speak at ISTE alongside some fantastic colleagues. I was excited, yet nervous. Once I got to ISTE though, I was overwhelmed, and not in a good way. There was personal stuff going on at home, I was not feeling well healthwise, and the panic started to creep in. How could I possibly live up to people’s expectations when I felt this awful? Then other stuff happened and I made the decision to go home. While it was the only decision I could make personally, it meant that I let others down. That I broke a professional promise. I never do this and yet I did it this time. If you are one of the ones that I let down by not being there, I am so sorry. If you waited in line, I am so sorry. If you are one of the ones affected by my decision, I am so sorry. I hope to make it up to everyone somehow.
But it speaks to my larger reality right now; my priorities are screwed up. I work too much. I worry too much. I give too much of myself to have enough left at the end of the day. And it is only getting worse. My doctor is telling me to stop and my kids are reminding me to listen.
So it is time for me to step back a bit. To do less work publicly, to share less, to not be so immediately available. To be just Pernille, the person who doesn’t have all of the answers necessarily. That only creates something because she cannot help it. That gives all of her when she is in a public space, but then steps back when she is private.
I find so much joy in the work that I get to do with kids, with adults, and I don’t want to lose that. I want to reclaim the joy. The experimentation. The carefree.
So if you don’t hear from me for a while, I hope it is ok. If I don’t take care of your question for a while, I hope it is ok. I will still be out there, sometimes on the road, sometimes behind my screen, but I can’t keep this up. I don’t want to keep this up.
Take care of yourself, it is time for me to do the same.