Surface Pressure

Pressure like a drip, drip, drip, drip that will never stop.


This line is just one of many apt descriptors in Luisa’s song (“Surface Pressure”) in Encanto, and it is what I am feeling these days. January has felt like it has had 74 days in it, minimum, and we still have the rest of this week to go.

Photo credit: Disney

Alot of times when I feel out of sorts, and stressed out, I try to look for the positive and remember my blessings and other good things. I practice gratitude, and it helps. The past couple of weeks, however, I have more often been trying to just be quiet, not harm people with my attitude, and remember that life isn’t always going to be this way. (And I am grateful I can have this perspective.)

I look at the “conversations” people have on social media and want to weep. Or curse. Or both. I am sad for my personal children who are having such critical years shaped by COVID. I am sad for my college students who are trying to navigate being away from home, with all the developmentally typical challenges of college, plus COVID. I am sad for specific people who have lost loved ones. I am sad in general for collective groups of people, and K-12 teachers and health care workers are at the top of that list. I am sad because I feel like there is nothing I can do to help in any meaningful way, beyond staying home when I can and minimizing risk of catching and spreading COVID. And I have anxiety about the things I should be doing that I don’t have the energy for after two years of pandemic related decision fatigue. In short, I feel like a hot mess of feelings mixed with a healthy dose of exhaustion, and a side of apathy.

If you have never seen Encanto, I recommend it highly. If you have seen it in the background, I encourage you to go back and listen to Surface Pressure. I played it for my senior social work majors the other day in the capstone class I teach. I told them that this song spoke to me in a big way over the winter break. Below are the existential type questions and observations Luisa asks herself in the song. How many of them do you resonate with?

I’m pretty sure I’m worthless if I can’t be of service

Who am I if I can’t run with the ball?

Who am I if I can’t carry it all?

Under the surface I hide my nerves and it worsens

Who am I if I don’t have what it takes?

It is a bundle of fun, my class is….seriously though, we had a good discussion about the weight of expectations, both our own and what others have for us. We talked about generational trauma and the roles we play out in our families. We talked about how we can terrify and harm the very people we seek to protect when we don’t know our limits and when we feel pushed beyond what we can take. And we talked about why it is we feel we have to take so much on.

But wait

If I could shake the crushing weight of expectations

Would that free up some room for joy?

Or relaxation? Or simple pleasure?

Luisa has her own aha moments, and I (occasionally) have mine, and I try to walk alongside my students as they have theirs. I am taking a little bit of time every day to free up some room for joy. Ask people in your life how they are doing that for themselves. Ask yourself what you can do to make sure you have some room freed up for joy, and relaxation, and simple pleasure. When I don’t ration out the time for my own joy, I am less likely to ration it out for others. And that is part of #belovedcommunity.

2 thoughts on “Surface Pressure

  1. You, my friend, are an inspiration. You write what my spirit is needing to hear. Can I be you when I grow up? ?

    M ________________________________


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