Jenni Osborn

Running on Empty in 2021

I have been running on empty for much of this year, if running on empty means low energy, severe brain fog and extreme fatigue. The stresses and strains of lockdowns, the ever changing rules about what’s restricted and what’s not, the strangeness of my body just simply stopping me in my tracks, the reduction of work, the giving up of so much. Covid has done this for a lot of us, many people whose lives were full and productive and fulfilling have seen it all disappear in the last 18 months. And that’s not to mention those who have had Covid and are now dealing with long term implications. So much uncertainty and stress to try and manage somehow, when we already feel fragile.

Then in the last couple of weeks Covid has visited my own household and that brings a whole heap of emotional response because out of everyone in my family, I am the most vulnerable. So I have moved out of home temporarily. And of the three who have tested positive, it is my husband who has been the most ill, whilst being the only parent at home! It has been a WEEK and I am done.

In response to an episode in the early summer, I have been in therapy for 3 months: uncovering thoughts and emotions that have lain buried but impacted my whole life to this point. I felt like I lost myself, increasingly losing the bits of me that I love: my get up and go, my organisational brain, my creativity, my ability to write. All of it seemed to be shrouded in a fog of who-knows-what. I think I’ve got the point where I can look back at some of this and see it for what it is: grief for many aspects of life and loss. There’s another blog post to be written there I think!

Running on empty is not a new feeling for me, but now, in 2021, I can look at it and realise that my default is no longer ‘busy’, my default is not ‘I must be productive at all costs’. I have burned my candle down time and time again, this time around I want to approach it differently. Because despite “running on empty” there are achievements. This year so far, I have published a book, which you can buy here, I finished my Psychology qualification, I have mentored youth workers, I have begun writing again, I understand more about myself and my journey than I ever have before, I am dealing with becoming disabled and all the ramifications of this, I preached a sermon for the first time in YEARS, I wrote a manifesto for youth work in our church.

Running on empty, and yet, I’m not empty. I have lots still to offer, many things I want to do. I only want to give my precious energy to what gives me joy. Maybe, just maybe, at the age of 46 I can start to be choosy about the things I want and don’t want to do.

Here’s my boundary marker: I am only here for doing the things which bring me joy. And I promise myself that I will think carefully about what that is before taking things on.

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