I’ve got a big event coming up next weekend (Asylum in Lincoln) so am in the process of trying to get ready. For me, event preparation isn’t just about what to pack and what to say in workshops, or the set list for the castle stage (late Saturday afternoon, should you happen to be there!). Event preparation is about trying to make sure I have the energy I’ll need to get through the event and some rest time after it.
This has affected how I work for the entirety of August. I’ve been doing things here and there to make sure this last week isn’t a mad dash of covering for the days when I won’t be able to work online. I’ve been doing things to improve my chances of getting some time off after the event. There will be no late nights this week, socialising outside of the event is not an option. I’m budgeting in rest time. If I’m tired when I land at an event, the whole process is harder. This is an intensive three day event in the offing plus travelling on the days on either side of that. I will need all the spoons I can get.
Obviously life doesn’t always give me these options. I don’t always know when an exhausting thing is in the offing. I can’t always pace myself for a month to make sure I can handle a bigger thing. Sometimes I just have to deal with what comes up, and recover afterwards, without having planned for that recovery time. It is not easy juggling spoons and working. It is even harder jugging spoons and working when something unexpected and demanding gets into the mix.
I have less trouble with this than I used to – partly because my energy levels have improved a bit in the last few years. Partly because I’ve become very good at forward planning. Even when there’s nothing going on, I pace myself, I try to make sure I don’t wear myself out unless I am totally sure I can spend the next day in a limp heap. I’ve also got better at figuring out how to have those limp heap days. This in turn means that most of the time I can have a social life, and having a social life improves my overall resilience.
None of this is terribly obvious from the outside. The forward planning, and the cost afterwards aren’t noticeable to other people, when I get things right. I have no doubt the same is true of many other people who have got good and reliable strategies and know how to work around their own limitations. Of course not all energy limitations are predictable, either. If I have a really bad patch, all bets are off. For some people, there is no predictability so there’s no scope to outthink the problem.
People who see me at events will see an up-beat, communicative, outgoing person. Unless someone is dealing with me in a much more personal way, they won’t see my coping mechanisms and they won’t see what happens when I stop coping. On the whole, that suits me, but I’m aware it can create a misleading impression. It’s important to me to mention this, because you can’t see from the outside what’s going on with anyone and they may not choose to show you. If your first encounter is when they run out of options, it may be hard to believe what you’re seeing, if you never thought there was anything wrong. Knowing that people can have invisible energy issues can make it easier to respond well when you run into that.