Day 1 of 30 – I compare myself to Michelle Obama

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

I cannot stand to have the post about my mother-in-law’s breast cancer sit at the top of this page for one more minute.  So, although it is 10 o’clock at night and I can hear my husband making the familiar sounds of getting ready for bed, I’m bound and determined to write something.

It might as well be the truth.

My friend Faiqa (and lots of other people) is currently participating in an interesting writing prompt of sorts on her blog caled “30 Days of Truth”.  For 30 days, you respond to a series of blog prompts with names like “something you love about yourself” and “something you hope you never have to do”.  I don’t know where the list is, so I’m just going to trust that Faiqa will follow through on the full 30 days so that I can get my prompts from her.

Without further delay, today’s topic:

Something You Hate About Yourself

I compare myself to Michelle Obama at least three times per week.  This may seem strange, a petite white woman comparing herself to an athletic black woman, but my inner comparisons have nothing to do with the way we look.

Instead, the loop in my head that plays over and over again is, “look at everything Michelle Obama must get done in a day.”

I don’t know why Michelle has become my mental icon of productivity.  And who did I beat myself up with before I knew about this successful mother, wife, lawyer and professor?  I can’t remember.  But I know that today it is Michelle and her initiatives and her arms that take time and work to maintain that remind me that I’m not doing enough.

But that’s not what I hate about myself.  While I admit that my obsession with Mrs. Obama is quirky, it’s not loath-worthy.

I hate that I get tired.

I take a nap at least three days a week.  At least.  And not when I’m sick or depressed, but because my mind and body seem to be easily overwhelmed.  I am constantly heading back to my office after dinner in order to make up for the afternoon hours I wasted taking a break, and I hate it.  I hate that I don’t seem to be able to accomplish as much in one day as other people.  I’m plagued with guilt about my possible laziness.

But I can’t tell you about this thing that I hate without admitting that I’m working on not hating it.

I hesitate to justify my midday breaks, but it is possible that I have a lot on my plate.  Always.  A look at my daily to-do lists doesn’t seem like cause for alarm.  ”Write UpTake posts.  Finish wedding articles.  Get printer cartridges.  Email docs to realtor.”  Four items should easily be accomplished without a break, right?

But the reality is that much of my day is spent working the shit out of my brain.  There are days when I write 2-3,000 words.  In fact, most days that’s about how much I write.  And on top of the tremendous amount of creative energy, I’m also managing the promotion and projects and details that come with: selling a house, running two websites, being a freelancer, planning a year long trip around the country, raising two kids, and being a wife.

And on some days I have to poop, too.

At the risk of having my deepest insecurities validated, I hate that I’m tired and don’t usually get it all done – but I am beginning to recognize that I may, legitimately, be a busy girl.

Of course, Michelle Obama is also busy, and you don’t hear her complaining.

And I bet you she doesn’t take naps.

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  1. Zoeyjane says:

    I’m so happy you joined in. I didn’t see anything to do with the first lady coming on day one, though. Maybe closer toward the middle of the month.

  2. Michelle says:

    At least you chose someone awesome to beat yourself up over. She really is a powerhouse. I read somewhere that she gets up at like 5 in the morning to workout with him to start the day and talk.

    For what it is worth, naps are fabulous and I think everyone should take them.

  3. Lisa says:

    I love naps. I can’t take naps very often because then I don’t sleep well at night, but man do I miss them.

  4. Jennifer says:

    Michelle Obama also has several assistants helping her accomplish everything. She does not do it all herself. That’s why she has her own chief of staff.

  5. Poppy says:

    You never know what’s going on behind closed doors.

    Michelle Obama has People to help keep her on task, on schedule, and many times she is not the only person performing any given task.

    You’re it, buckaroo. No personal assistants, no driver, no chef, no gardeners, no xyz advisors… No one making sure your brand, your name, everything you stand for is being kept in check. No wonder you’re exhausted.

    I used to be tired from just having a 9-5 job. You inspire me to be tired for more than just that.

  6. mare says:

    life without naps?! why bother

  7. Robin says:

    Girl, please. Michelle Obama takes naps. She has the Secret Service to watch her children. :) :)

    I worked 12 hours today, and I will probably have to work long hours for the next few weeks, if not longer. And I am EXHAUSTED. I can’t even take a day off because I will come back to (literally) 4-500 emails that must be addressed within the same business day….there’s no point. So yeah…I totally relate.

    But guess what? I take naps in my truck when I can. I take walks during work when I can get away (even if it’s just to the kitchenette to get tea or go say hi to co-workers for a minute). I can’t be good to my clients without being good to myself. It’s really hard and I still have a long way to go, but I try and find a way to make it work.

    Don’t feel guilty for taking naps or trying to take care of yourself. Do what you need to do to be better.

  8. Read SARK – naps are essential! And from my perspective you are extremely productive!

  9. Faiqa says:

    Yeah, what those other people said about her having assistants and stuff. Also? She’s not a practicing lawyer nor a professor, right now. ALSO? She stopped practicing law several years before her husband entered politics so she could devote more time to her family. You’re naps are well deserved and something tells me that Michelle would agree.

  10. Hockeymandad says:

    You are a busy bee. As a friend I would say to try and slow down a little bit. Follow the advice from Ferris. I wish I could nap in the first place. Even at the office, I would go out to my car and do it every day if I could. It’s good for your brain and the health of your body. Mrs. Obama is a good person to look up to, however don’t try to compare your task list to hers. She has like 50 people at her beckon call to take care of things for her as well.

  11. i’m so glad others agree that you are comparing apples to oranges (or a britt to a michelle) when there truly is no comparison. you don’t have a staff to run errands, cook meals, clean the house, take care of the kids, ghostwrite for you, etc.
    while i love that you were honest, i hope that soon you can say that you don’t hate yourself for being tired. most of us are tired!

  12. Becky says:

    All work and no play (read NAPS) is totally missing the point.

  13. Kandeezie says:

    I went through the same thing for years and thought something was wrong: severe depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, gastro-intestinal something, or just plain lazy. Found a new MD who also practices holistic medicine. Turns out I have a gluten allergy. Within weeks my energy levels were “normal”!! I was finally able to do what I always saw other people doing but couldn’t do myself. I feel soooooo much better. If I had known sooner, my life would be so different. Might be something different for you, but it could be an allergy or sensitivity that you never thought you had. Hope this helps!

  14. Matt-Man says:

    Aside from your amusing and nuanced comparison to Michelle Obama, I find it really funny that you referred to yourself as a “petite” white woman. Cheers Britt!!

  15. Finn says:

    I know I’ve said this to someone before, probably a lot of someones, but Einstein? Edison? DaVinci? Nappers.

    Enough said.

  16. muskrat says:

    Naps? Are for mortals (and little children). Okay, and Mexicans (and other cultures that allow for them).

    You’re in some pretty decent company, I think.

  17. Avitable says:

    Anyone who has seen you work knows that you put yourself 100% into your work. It’s no wonder you get tired – you exhaust yourself mentally on a regular basis.

  18. [...] started it. And then she did it. And so did she. Her too ! So, if they jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge I would too I decided I wanted to do it as [...]

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