I learnt a new word recently. Single tasker. A person who can do one job at a time. The word very succinctly describes me. Yes, in a world of multi-taskers, I’m odd. I am a single tasker.
The multi-taskers run businesses, train for the marathon at the crack of dawn, are on the PTA committee at school, between con-calls, back to back meetings and deadlines, they tweet, organise parties at home and don’t be surprised if they announce one fine day that they have penned a book. After all that’s the in-thing to do today.
Phew! Just typing it all left me exhausted.
It’s not uncommon to hear about authors who have written 4, 5..7 books. Alongside writing one per year, they blog, tweet, and some have kids, do yoga or Zumba, flaunt diva-esque bodies and also have full time jobs.
I am in awe of them. These multi-taskers. I look at them with envy because I’m not like that at all. Truth be told, I cringe in shame when compared with them. I gave up my freelance writing career and a promising business venture with a friend to focus on my writing. I’m mother to a 17 year old who is extremely independent; he neither needs nor wants my motherly inputs. I should be able to pack in more in my life, every day. But I don’t. More accurately, I can’t. I’m a single tasker. I can do one thing at a time. Dammit! I can’t even read two books at a time. When I read about Indrani Mukherjea and her sordid saga my first thoughts were, “How the hell did she juggle so many men and intrigues?” I can barely manage one husband, one curly top and a dog! God lord! I’m really an idiot. Low IQ kinda person.
I just can’t do it!
It took 40 years of harried, hurried and hassled running around like a headless chicken to finally accept that I just can’t do it all. I’m not a multi-tasker. I can’t do 10 things at a time. Guess what I can’t even do 5. I can just about manage to deal with 2, maybe 3 if I really stretch myself. And I’m ok with it. This calm acceptance of what I considered my biggest flaw came to me to after two decades of self-berating and self-flogging. Of feeling lesser and not smart enough like the super multi-taskers.
The trajectory of my mental evolution was something like this: first I tried to do it all. Believing if others could, so can I. I fumbled, blundered and made a mess of things. Countless cheques were deposited without my signature on it. Packed everything I needed, the family needed, checked the baby bag and left for a trip with my wallet lying smugly on the bedside table. Innumerable dinners have been burned. And then the worst…I left my infant son in the car, doors locked and key dangling inside!! The List goes on as did my shame, horror and self-loath.
Stage two was hate and resentment. Directed at myself and my hubby. I believed he was responsible for it all. Married women do this a lot; direct their anger at their better half for the things they are unable to do. So after two decades of this turmoil, when I turned 40, I think it was the dawn of sense and sensibility. Gradually I began to accept who I am, the way I am. Nirvana is far away, but the self-acceptance is calming.
Recently I watched Shonda Rhimes, writer of Grey’s Anatomy give a speech at the graduation ceremony of Dartmouth University. She said,
Don’t be fooled by women who tell you that they do it all. Work, exercise, be there for their kids, paint, entertain, cook and etc… Nobody can. Nobody can do it all. If they are succeeding at something, it means they are failing somewhere else. If I’m writing an award winning show and winning accolades for it, I’m not there to watch my baby take the swimming lesson or play the piano. So stop believing in the media-created myth of this impossible super woman who can do it all and more with elan. It’s an urban legend.
Irrespective of what we excel in, nobody can beat a woman at beating herself down. We love to look at ourselves with negativity. Even before others cast the first stone, we have already beaten ourselves down to pulp. I did it for years.
Nobody can do everything and if there're people who can work, run, cook, paint and etc…good for them. They are wired differently.
It’s perfectly fine not to be able to do everything. I pick the ones that really matter.
Choose what you love the most and enjoy that to the optimum. Don’t feel stupid. You aren’t. We aren’t meant to be clones of each other. Beauty lies in diversity. Beauty lies in accepting who you are and relishing it!
So I watch the world rush by, doing multiple things while I lumber along doing just one. Some days the old feeling of self-loath returns and I scold myself but I’m older and hopefully wiser.
It’s ok, be yourself. You’re fine. I remind myself.
A leading cosmetic brand screams – You’re worth it; I tell myself – I accept me.