When you just…can't. - Kristen Kalp

When you just…can’t.

I’m in Kenya, safe and sound, here at the Flying Kites compound in rural Kenya. I’m also, it should be noted, not at the school festivities that are going on today.

I’m an ace at saying “No” to offers that don’t interest me, clients that don’t click, or ideas that aren’t 100% in line with where I want my life to go. But last night, I said, “I can’t.”

This phrase, “I can’t,” is a new and much more humbling state of affairs.

“No” means I won’t.

“I can’t” means simply, it is too much.

My body/brain/heart are too full, too tired, too depleted right now to extend myself any further.

Lemme explain. I’m an introvert’s introvert. On Sunday, I attended a festival in a nearby town with all 22 of the kids currently at Flying Kites. We left at 8:15 in the morning and arrived home well after dark. The day came with a two-hour ride to town (complete with a few pit stops), six hours of festivities, and an hour’s return trip in which we were stuck in the mud a few times. During the festival, I shook hands with literally hundreds of kids who had never seen a white woman (i.e. “muzungu”) before. I made nice with local dignitaries, listened politely to speeches, and came home absolutely exhausted.

Not exhausted in that ‘I’m so tired’ way, but in that much deeper ‘I have nothing left to give’ way. I spent yesterday recovering, and there’s another school festival today. When I thought about having to go to today’s festival, tears swelled in my eyes and I realized I quite simply couldn’t. Unless Kenyan President Uhuru needed me to be there or my life depended on it, my reserves were gone and I simply couldn’t.

This is hard to admit. Normally, I’m the first to go, to do, to explore, to seek…the last to say I can’t do something. Yet. I really want to be at school, but I can’t.

So tell me, what is it you can’t do? What is it you need to admit is beyond you? Even though you “should” be able to do it? Even though others can do it with ease?

Ease is a funny thing in that it’s different for everyone. Some are buoyed by other people’s energy, while I’m…not. Extroverts don’t (and can’t!) understand how much energy it takes for me to meet hundreds of people at a time. (Even though they’re sweet, even though they’re kind. Even though Kenya is lovely.)

No one else has to understand your limitations. Only you do. And I dare you to admit those limitations to yourself.

Not the self-imposed barriers that are variations of fear — I mean the real, true limits of your own soul.

When you’ve found your own edge, acknowledge it.

Hire it out, ask for help, find a way around that roadblock. Make a cup of tea and rest. You’re perfectly capable of respecting your own limitations and still being an absolutely remarkable human being! (At least, that’s what I’m counting on for myself. I hope you’ll hold it true for you as well.)

Admit to yourself what it is you simply can’t do. And then…don’t do it.

P.S.  Boundaries are the best thing ever.