Darn It, I’m a Short Cup

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I love creating schedules. Timetables, colour-coding, post-its. Just typing the words makes me swoon. Wrapping my fingers around a smooth ball point, flushing out what I’m going to accomplish, the bright blue ink symbolizing the permanence of the whole thing. The entire process is glorious.

I’ve tried using my phone to hold my primary schedule (like everyone else on the planet), but I find it remarkably unsatisfying. The delicate tap-tap-tap of my fingers on the keyboard. The pithy delete button when I complete a task. And where are the checkmarks? Checkmarks are literally the only reason I do anything.

While I love productivity like I love cereal at midnight, a peek at my handwritten schedule makes it glaringly obvious I’m not exactly overbooked. If you saw a day heavy with commitments on my calendar, you would always notice it sandwiched by fairly light days, people wise and obligation wise. It’s my sanity sandwich. If I do not sanity sandwich my super full days, I get resentful, overwhelmed, and generally miserable. It’s too much.

I know my sanity sandwiches will garner me few compliments in this society. I’m supposed to be productive all the time. I’m supposed be achieving another rung on the Ladder of Never-Good-Enoughness. I’m supposed to be bettering myself and doing all the things for Jesus and changing the whole freaking world (and Instagraming it, of course). I’m expected to be busy and frantic. And if I’m not acting frantic enough, I’m obviously not working hard enough.

This expectation is a huge struggle for me, because perfectionism and people pleasing are my drugs of choice. I so want to be over booked and overworked and flitting from event to event with ease. I do. I want you to be so impressed with my busyness, it makes you wonder how I do it all. I want you to be in awe of the things I’m accomplishing.

I recently heard an amazing woman speak on capacity, and she compared our individual capacities to sizes of Starbucks cups. She was clearly a venti cup, powerful and hilarious, wise and driven. She advised her fellow venti cups not to apologize for the full-bodied work they’ve been called to.

As I watched a myriad of dynamic women around the room nodding along, I shrank in my seat. I realized my biggest fear was not being a venti cup. Not having the capacity to be brilliant and dynamic. Having everyone know exactly how I do it all, because I’m not doing all that much. I mean, what if I’m just a tall? Or—horrors—a short?

I used to be a venti. I was saying yes, doing all the things and then some. People wondered how I did it all, and I confess I miss being celebrated and praised for my busyness. Especially at a time of year that is overrun by people proclaiming all the things they’re going to accomplish. I’m so tempted to fill in the blank spaces. I’ll start a non-profit! I’ll write a book! I’ll launch a thriving business! I’ll bask in the awe of lesser mortals!

But I can’t.

You see, that open schedule is a completely deliberate choice after years of spreading myself whisper thin and creating an environment for my anxiety to thrive. If I don’t allow myself the time and space I need to function like a normal human, I eventually implode. I lash out at my husband, bark at my kids, and have a self-indulgent pity party with a tub of cookie dough. Panic attacks start creeping in, I withdraw from friends, and I never, ever ask for help. Not a good place. A rather soul-shatttering, destructive place, actually. Except for the cookie dough. That’s delicious.

My capacity may shift down the road but, for the time being, I seem to be in a short cup season of life. It’s not sexy to admit that at the start of a brand spanking new year with a crisp daytimer eagerly anticipating my pen. But there it is. My highlighted, checkmarked schedule will be filled with the people I love, the (few) projects that are important to me, and a heck of a lot of sanity sandwiches.

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Megan Gahan
If you call me Meg I'll feel like we've been friends for a while, so do go with that. By day I run after two little dudes, but when the house is - finally - quiet I like to write, often a giant mug of Earl Grey Vanilla beside me. More often with a giant bowl of ice cream. I've worked in the fitness industry for over ten years, so talking body image and push-up technique gets me excited. I ponder those things, along with faith, parenting, and my desire to be a superhero over at megangahan.com.
Megan Gahan
Megan Gahan

Latest posts by Megan Gahan (see all)

Megan Gahan
  • So grateful you are taking care of YOU. Sanity sandwiches are perfect. I may have sanity weeks … 😉

    • Megan Gahan

      Oooh, a sanity week sounds divine! Thank you, my friend 🙂

  • Many a night I’ve lamented the “little” I seem to be able to handle. As though it’s commentary on what God thinks of me as the perfect corollary to what the world espouses. I, too, am a short-cup gal and slowly embracing that truth. When I can, it is good. This is a timely post for that new year when I’m tempted to fill it too full. Thanks!

    • Megan Gahan

      I so appreciate your thoughts in this place, Kirsten. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • This post is coming at just the right time for me,so thank you, Megan!

    I swooned along with you as you described the glorious check marks and the blue ink. So satisfying.

    A few years ago I actually started buying smaller planners just so that I would have fewer lines to write on, telling myself that when the lines are full on any given day, I just have to say no or find another day for that task. I can’t report that I’m feasting on sanity sandwiches, but I’m working on it . . .

    • Megan Gahan

      Wow, I love that idea Michele . . smaller planner = having to say “no” when it’s full! That’s genius!

  • Amy Chumbley

    Love this, Megan! I just admitted to my daughter yesterday that I think I have an addiction to productivity! I find myself feeling less than and anxious when my schedule isn’t full. I needed this reminder to “fill the year with people I love and a few projects that are important to me.”

    • Megan Gahan

      Oh, I’m right there with you in that productivity addiction, Amy! My worth has always been tied to the number of checkmarks I get on any given day. But I’m working on it . . .thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment this morning!

  • Gina

    Yes! I think even the women who seem like Venti cups could do with not filling them to the brim. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s so easy to feel like we have to wring life out of every second we’re given, rather than enjoying the slow brew.

    • Megan Gahan

      Goodness, I love your words Gina! I wrote this post as a reminder to myself to fully appreciate the slow brew! You expressed it perfectly 🙂 Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and show up in this place <3

  • Goals! I want to love a short cup life but fitting my venti size schedule into it isn’t working. I’m trying. I’m learning to shave off things and take sabbaths. Little by little. This encouragement helps. Also, I totally think the new pen and planner is absolutely sexy. You should see my spankin new bullet journal;)

    • Megan Gahan

      Your current schedule is a completely different animal altogether Nicole! I’m not sure a short cup is possible for you right now 😉 And I WANT to see your new bullet journal! I’ve heard about them, but have not seen one . . .picture please!

      • I am loving the bullet because it is so flexible. Tons of ideas out there on different kinds of pages. Can be simple or as fancy as you like. This is my month overview page. The nice thing too is it is a good way to plan but then the weekly pages aren’t just like a brain dump. I put everything down as it comes to me: to-dos, ideas, things to buy, anything. Instead of having it all in different places and then forgetting where it was. I was feeling too scattered and now I feel more “in one place.” https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a7344e9b64b726025b09e94b5282778ab8b60da97debbf2c7a882adbec9c00fd.jpg

  • Angela M. Shupe

    Kudos for allowing yourself time and space to function! I agree with Idelette, “sanity sandwiches are perfect.” I find life can often be so fluid that without enough margin built in things go a bit haywire. For me, the short cup life feels like learning to follow one step at a time, which can be frustrating. But, it does simplify things. Even so, I do love a new planner and pen. 🙂 Really appreciated reading this, Megan!

    • Megan Gahan

      Thanks so much for your thoughts here, Angela. I completely agree with what you said about building in margins. I’ve typically been horrible about that, but I’m learning I really need to make a conscious effort in this season of life. And I love that people get as excited about new planners and pens as I do!

  • I learned early in my mothering journey that we needed do-nothing, jammie days. When we had an event (no matter how low-key or fun) every day, we would inevitably have meltdowns or night terrors. We quickly learned to slow down, to rest, to embrace messy playrooms. And I’m happier for it, too. Thanks for this encouragement, especially at a time of year when it’s easy to pack in the goals.

    • Megan Gahan

      Annie, I just said “Amen” after each sentence you wrote! My oldest already knows Mom needs low-key days (even though he describes himself as “high-key”, which he is!) to function properly, and we have our fair share of jammie days. This season of mothering littles leaves me with precious little energy left to offer at the end of the day. It has been oh-so-hard to admit that to myself, when I want to do all the things. But I can’t right now. And it comforting to know I’m not alone 🙂

  • I applaud you, Megan! THIS is courageous! 🙂

    • Megan Gahan

      These two little sentences made me feel so warm and fuzzy Tiffany! Thank you for your kind words.

  • I am so with you, friend! My university days were all about the colour-coded planner with the 0.05mm micron pen. But now, so many days I feel like I’m a dixie cup. I’m not sure why, but it’s certainly difficult to believe we are enough just as we are – regardless of what capacity we’re made for. Sanity sandwiches, I love it! Thanks for being you. <3

    • Megan Gahan

      I so appreciate you showing up here Olive. I was rather nervous publishing a post about doing less. In January, of all the months! Your words and presence are a comfort and a balm as always . . . thank you so much <3

  • Emma

    Awesome post. God too rested, and so must we. I was a venti cup and am now I a short. It’s taken me three years but I no longer feel ashamed by it. It used to define me. It was scary to look at an empty planner and think I had accomplished nothing. And never would again! After three years of battling with God our 2017 family resolution is to have a year of rest. Take a breath. If all we have accomplished this year is to master the art of resting in this busy world then I would say we have accomplished much. Wish us luck!

    • Megan Gahan

      Wow, thank you so much for sharing this Emma. I am so encouraged by your journey. And I LOVE your family goal. . . I would love to hear more about it as you move through the year. Happy 2017 to you <3

  • fiona lynne

    There is such wisdom here Megan. Going to sit with this one for a while… x

    • Megan Gahan

      Thank you so much friend <3 That means a great deal, as I often come to your posts for wisdom! Much love

  • Dawn

    So glad you discovered these truths while the littles are still little! Sadly, I pushed myself into Venti mode for too long and now that the littles are bigs my body says I should have been in Short mode long ago. Enjoy this Short season! It may mean you will have what you need for a Venti later on. 🙂

    • Megan Gahan

      I so appreciate your perspective, Dawn. Thank you for the encouragement. Hoping 2017 brings you more downtime and rest than you’ve allowed yourself in the past 🙂 Much love . .

  • Yes YES. I’m in my 6th year of living overseas, I’ve had big health struggles this year and needed to go down to working part time and I hated it. I hated not being able to do as much as I could before. I’m slowly getting better at releasing guilt about it, and I schedule my time, as much as I can, the same way with margin days. But I think I’ll start calling them sanity sandwiches. I love that!

  • Saskia Wishart

    This is so so so good and wise Megan. “If I do not sanity sandwich my super full days, I get resentful, overwhelmed, and generally miserable.” <— All those feelings are my warning sign that I have way over-booked myself. I days scratched off on my (physical) agenda, because I need them to function as a kinder human being in this world. Thank you for the permission you give here, to be the capacity where we are at.

  • Jenna

    I love this. I am definitely a short cup. Thank you so much for putting into words what I’ve been feeling and struggling with!