The Pressure to Bounce Back


There’s pressure to bounce back after you’ve had a baby. You’re supposed to get back to your previous shape—to fit into your wedding dress, to fit into your old skinny jeans. You’re supposed to be just as productive and energized as you were before. You’re supposed to be in a similar place emotionally. You’re supposed to be calm and content.

But the reality is that you’re tired. You’re trying to get used to your new role, new schedule, new baby. Some days you’re ecstatic and grateful. And it all feels easy, natural. Other days you’re scared and want to stay in bed all day long. It feels too hard.

There’s pressure to bounce back after you’ve gone through any transition or loss. You’ve lost your job. Your loved one passed away. You ended a relationship. You filed for bankruptcy. You graduated. You sold your home (and maybe you really didn’t want to move, or maybe you did).

But the reality is that you’re numb, unsure, still very much sad. You’re trying to put together the pieces that were shattered, but they’re just not fitting right. You’re walking around in a fog.

There’s pressure to return to your old self, to move on, to just get over it. And if you don’t bounce back, then clearly something is wrong with you. Clearly, you’re defective (and thereby undeserving). Clearly, you don’t know what you’re doing. You’re stupid. You’re an idiot. You’re different than everyone else who knows what they’re doing, who rarely feels this way, who isn’t afraid and who’s able to accomplish everything amid any kind of stress.

Of course, this isn’t true. But it feels that way. Because we’re expected to fulfill a role we’re not fulfilling (e.g., that of someone who brushes things off, and picks themselves up right away; someone who stumbles, trips, falls and still finishes the race with a sprained ankle), we assume the worst about ourselves. We assume we’re not strong or resilient.

But all of us need time to process transitions or tough times, whether it’s something as major as becoming a mom or something as (seemingly) minor as moving to a different house. We need time to feel whatever we’re feeling. We need space and maybe silence.

We need space and time to understand and make sense of what’s happened, what’s happening. We need space and time to integrate these circumstances, our emotions, the lessons we’re learning into our ever-evolving self. We need permission (from ourselves) to take it slower, to take it easy (or easier). We need to know that we’re not alone in our pain, confusion, self-doubt, indecisiveness, overwhelm. Because the reality is that we’re not.

Taking your time with any kind of transition doesn’t make you weak or stupid or broken. Everyone has their own pace, and yours might simply be slower, and that’s OK. (Of course, you also never know what’s brewing inside someone’s heart by looking at their social media.) Everyone has their own needs, preferences and dreams. Dig. Dig to identify yours. And let yourself honor them. With curiosity and compassion.

What if you stopped trying to bounce back and decided to just be? What if you focused on the process, on the processing, instead of racing to the end result? What if you focused on honoring where you are right now and choosing activities that nourished you deeply, whether they helped you bounce back or not?

Photo by Celia Michon on Unsplash.

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