Thursday, October 28th, 2021

P Shopper Columns


I work in an environment where the staff is continuously changing. My team is often short-handed, which means work that is normally completed by three or four people has to be done by two or even one. On those days, I used to go into work dreading what felt like an almost insurmountable workload. Sometimes I would be so stressed lying in bed the night before, just thinking about everything that needed to be done. And I would wake up in a completely wrong frame of mind. I work with animals, so it's important that I do my job thoroughly and well, yet I found myself having to consider What was I willing to compromise? What shortcuts could I take? How could I be faster, more efficient, better?

Now I understand
that it's not about doing better
(better is, after all, insatiable),
it's about doing my best.

While there were many days that ended up being as strenuous as I'd feared they'd be, there were also days when I anticipated the worst and ended up with something much different. Some of those days when I felt like the to-do list could never possibly get done, I would find my manager pitching in alongside us, or a handful of volunteers would show up to help. I began to realize that I couldn't predict or control how taxing a day would be, and it wasn't healthy to allow a heavy workload to exhaust me before I even started.

Stress and exhaustion aren't all in our heads. Sometimes we try to do too much- sometimes we have to do too much. It's okay to feel disheartened when our task list doesn't get done or takes longer to achieve than expected, but when this happens, it's more important than ever to pay attention to our internal monologue. I've found great inspiration in the phrase, "Instead of asking "Why me?' say "Try me.' " One mentality allows our stress to fester, while the other represents mentally gearing up and entering a productive, focused frame of mind. When a heavy load is placed on our shoulders, we can crumble beneath it or we can give ourselves permission to unload our burden a little at a time, to the best of our abilities. I used to ask myself how I could be and do better, which was the same as believing I wasn't good enough. Now I understand that it's not about doing better (better is, after all, insatiable), but rather, it's about doing my best. Setting goals can help us accomplish more and realize our potential, but only if we start by accepting where we are now and letting it be enough when we've truly done our best.

Breonna Loxley is an animal care technician at an animal shelter. She is an avid artist, writer, and animal-lover. She lives with her parents, a younger brother, two cats, and one dog.