Pressure valve (n., abstract) 1. A self-appointed responsibility or habit that requires time, attention and emotional energy to maintain, but which can scale down to free up time, attention, and emotional energy under demanding emotional circumstances.
This summer, you might remember (if you were reading) that I didn't blog 500 words every weekday, because it was too stressful to try to work it around my work schedule. Most days I worked 12 hours, and I needed the spare time on the edges of that just to keep my life running.
My situation is not that dire right now, but the patchwork of things going on in my life (new job, old job, school, clubs, school newspaper, making sure I'm not neglecting my partner or my friends, making new friends, working on Clarion application stories, therapy, and remembering to eat) have put me in the awkward position where it's easy for me to bite off more than I can chew without realizing I'm doing it.
Today, for example, I planned on coming home from work and baking for a bake sale for my school's Pride group (formerly GSA). Instead, I came home from work, stuck my face in a pillow, and breathed heavily until I worked up the emotional energy to text my partner and let her know I needed some support.
On the other hand I get super bored when I don't have enough to do, and for years I've had really consistent difficulty in keeping my commitments low enough that I always have an emotional surplus to deal with new stresses as they come up.
So, I'm not going to change any of the rules on my blog right now. It's still 500 words a day, every weekday. Sort of. On days like today, when I really am too overwhelmed to do everything I expected of myself, I'm not going to beat myself up over it if my blog's where I take a hit.
I'm calling this change in attitude a pressure valve, because I want to specifically draw a contrast between this, and the more natural route that seems most obvious to apply: venting -- which, as I understand it, means being senselessly assholeish to people around you because you can't be bothered to invest even the slightest bit of effort into your casual relationships.
I do that, too, sometimes, because sometimes when I feel really cruddy it seems like a good idea. In my experience, it's never actually been the right choice -- I always just feel, well, kind of like an asshole afterwards. And that doesn't put me in an awesome position to build a better emotional state.
The point of the valve is that it's something already there, installed, that's designed to let the stress flow without breaking, or breaking any of its surrounding machinery.
I think I'm also going to look into other ways to bring my blog and other parts of my life together. Like, grabbing paragraphs I'm having trouble with in my short stories, and devoting some page space to trying to explain the trouble I'm having to people other than myself.