• caseytonkin


Updated: Jul 18, 2020

It's Sunday, July 5 (the very date printed on a bottle of milk in my fridge) which means I'm late to writing this week's post here on Bashful Extroverts.

This was my week to post and I let it lapse. I'm going to blame feeling unwell. Not like COVID or a cold or anything, though it was only a couple of weeks ago since I had a bit of that, but rather general fatigue and this great weight pushing against my chest that's made doing much more than getting out of bed and climbing up the ladder to our attic office difficult.

I composed much of this in my head while having breakfast (a bowl of cereal filled with milk on the cusp of expiration) just before but it's largely slipped from my mind so I'm making this up as I go.

The chest stuff, yeah, so that sucks. It was largely gone this morning. Waking up with nothing to do, the freedom of lying in bed reading, was very calming and restful – enough to hopefully get me over this latest hill.

I did see a doctor on Friday, though. She sent me for an ECG. "It stands for, um electrocardiogram? I think. We don't use the full word much anymore." Nothing abnormal came up. The doc listened to my ticker through her stethoscope – nothing there either. Blood pressure came up a little high. "Could be stress," she said. Next up is a blood test which I'm aiming to get done tomorrow morning.

You know, it sucks feeling fragile. My usual mode of thinking has been something like 'I'm capable of basically anything – I just have to try enough'. Maybe it's just a bit of white man's confidence: ego-boosting thought patterns clinging to narrative view of liberal, all-achieving selfhood. But honestly, I don't want to stop thinking that every human is capable of the same skills and goals. Doesn't that idea help drive us towards social equality?

The problem comes when instead of being a call for empowerment, a belief in human universality becomes your defence mechanism. Perhaps you compare yourself to a peer, and you say, "Well I could do that, if I tried hard enough". What a happy little self-deception. You get to pull yourself up without expending any actual effort. Of course, if you do this long enough, clutching onto the belief that you are ultimately capable (if you just tried hard enough), you will start to realise not only that genuine achievement takes more than capacity – it takes time and effort, often at the expense of reaching the other goals or wants that you are capable of – but also that you, the infinitely capable, have not lived up to your own hype. All you needed to do at any point was focus on what you wanted to do. If only you'd tried hard enough.

So on those days, when you're tired to the point of tears, and have felt for weeks a calamitous weight holding you down, you might ask: "What is wrong with me?"