The Struggle of Being a Doer

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Living a balanced life while in service to others.

“Hello, my name is Hannah, and I’m a doer.”

I’ve often imagined an AA-type support group for people, like myself, who live their lives as chronic doers. I come from a long line of doers who were ever-present, reliable, and the first in line to head the project or start the job. Growing up, I learned the value, very early, of being willing to step up, and it’s something that I embrace and (mostly) joyously live as my truth.

I am indeed the partner born with the doing gene in my marriage. My dear husband spends so much of his professional life doing that he gladly takes on the co-pilot and navigator role and lets me spearhead on as many projects and volunteer causes as I can manage. While he tries his best to be as supportive as one would hope their partner can be, there are certainly times when the constant doing can cause strife. When time is scarce, tensions run high, and energy is low, I can often hear him, either in real life or as my own personal Jiminy Cricket, the following questions:

“Why can’t someone else do it?”

“Why does it always have to be you?”

“Can’t they just hire someone to do that instead?”

Often I don’t have a clear answer, other than I committed to being the one doing, whatever it may be, and I will always try to do my best to see it through. I often remind myself that if volunteering or being of service to others doesn’t make someone a little bit uncomfortable, they are probably doing it wrong, and I take that to heart every day.

I have found such intensely personal and professional growth in moments of uncomfortable doing. Late nights trying to make sure fundraisers are successful, countless evenings of teaching and leading Cub Scouts, and the hours of meetings spent helping find solutions for the bereaved are all for a purpose greater than myself. The endless stream and string of household projects I have often refused to entrust to anyone but myself.

I will never be in the front of the line to claim to be without faults, but I always try my best. Doing all the things may lead to more nights eating delivery, less cleaning done around the house, and any me time going quietly into the fantasy land that is my life and often is a mom’s life. For moms and single parents especially, the endless stream of doing can be overwhelming and exhilarating. At the same time, simultaneously rewarding and anxiety-inducing, we soldier on trying to keep doing for others in perpetuity.

Eventually, I finally find a moment to pause in doing then to only be met with an achingly brief respite because of the sneaky guilt that tends to ride along on doings coattails. Taking a break, especially for myself, is often met with loud anxiety.

“What if they don’t do it as well as I do?”

“What if they forget something?”

“Will they always remember when I stepped back and put myself first?”

I wake up every morning striving to do for those around me without losing myself, and over half the time, I fail, crashing and burning spectacularly. The next day nonetheless, I get up and try again, and again, and again because failure is inevitable but never a final option. I will keep striving to be a doer, make a difference, and achieve just one more thing for someone who may benefit.

Stepping back at times is needed, but I always come back to wanting to do for my family and others.

Some people like running and I well, I just like doing.

Want to do more in our community? The possibilities are numerous but, if you need an easy place to start, check out Volunteer Match, Council on Aging of West Florida, Inc., or ask your neighbors (or via your neighborhood social media site) if there is anyone who needs a little help now and then.

A little simple doing may change your life.

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Hannah was born and raised in West Michigan and made the move to Pensacola in 2015 with her oldest four boys after being widowed. Now remarried and with two more lovely children added to the family, a girl and boy, she spends her days trying to keep it together, usually with duct tape and ingenuity. During her daily hours spent serving as a taxi driver she often muses about how lost the world would be without moms and wonders if she’ll ever go a week without playing a game of “What’s That Smell” around her house and car. Hannah is an adult with ADHD, the daughter of an alcoholic, and the survivor of child abuse who doesn’t have too many off limits topics. She is a lover of books, sarcastic humor, and old houses and all three come in handy as she constantly works on projects in and around her 1866 Folk Victorian.

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