Just 10%

It’s one of those days.

We had an amazing night with E’s cousins, but I definitely didn’t plan very well for it. I was exhausted when I woke up this morning, and I was up earlier than normal because I had to wash my hair.

Cut to dashing out of the house barely on time, and then a problem with a train that stranded us in the tunnels for literally 15 minutes. I was nearly 25 minutes late to work when I finally arrived. I had texted my boss, and it was completely fine, but the delay plus my tiredness threatened to throw off my whole morning.

When I was getting ready to speak with clients and gather data, I felt like my courage had been depleted. I was afraid to speak, afraid to interact, afraid to push myself to perform the basic functions of my position.

I sat down at one of the tables in the centre and collected myself. My daily goal is 20 observations. Sometimes I exceed it, sometimes I don’t, but I aim for 20 no matter what. A few people had tricked into the centre and I bargained with myself. Just speak to two of them, just do 10% of the daily quota, and then, I rationalised, I could catch up on data entry.

Both people agreed to participate, and I sat down again. I entered data, and a few more people arrived. Again, I told myself, get up again and do another 10%. I wasn’t going to force myself to stand outside the centre and immediately speak with new arrivals, but I wasn’t going to let myself hide in a corner and do data entry all day.

Another group of people, another 10%.

By the time I took a late lunch, I had made a huge dent in my daily goal. I still felt like I’d been put through a coffee grinder, but I had new data and I did my job.

When these moods strikes, I tend to wonder if this is what it will be like forever. Is this kind of anxiety or these mini crises of confidence part of who I am now? Or are they largely environmental? If my work environment were in English, would I feel like this? In two years, will I be so much more confident in my French that the anxiety melts away?

I may not have an answer to those questions and that makes it all the more important for me to work on strategies for moving through whatever I’m feeling to get things done. I practiced the concept of no zero days when I was in a very rough place a few years ago, and the 10% push feels like the natural evolution of that kind effort to flow through whatever emotional space I’m in.

We had a friend over for dinner tonight, and as I was cleaning up the apartment I got an email from my program director updating the deadline for my thesis. It’s been pushed out by FOUR whole days, and I’m so happy. This gives me another four business days to collect data, and to keep working in slices of 10% to accomplish my goal : a strong (and finished!) thesis.




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