Although butterflies are my first love, I moonlight as a bug enthusiast.
Bugs remind me a lot of the lab; they’re tiny machines that can do incredible things.
Pictured: Pleasing Fungus Beetles, photo taken and sent to me thanks to a coworker, "BK." Read more about this critter here.
Bugs are super efficient with their energy and resources. They have keen senses to detect when environmental conditions may have a big impact on them. For example, a lack of food sources can cause certain bugs to swarm. Changes in the photoperiod or length of daylight can trigger certain insects to prepare to migrate. Female insects can go into diapause or a waiting period of not laying eggs until after migrating. There are so many examples of them doing what they have to do to survive not just for their sake but for their species’ sake. They will not lay eggs in unfavorable conditions. There are even some rare cases, like with Carrion Beetles, who will perform "filial cannibalism" and eat/destroy some of their larvae to control brood size, or the amount of offspring, if they believe it will help the survival of the few remaining with the resources available. They feed on dead animals so their food source is ephemeral or short-lived. With Pleasing Fungus Beetles, their food sources – fruiting bodies of fungi – are also short-lived so their time spent from larvae to adult passes quickly to accommodate this. Plainly said, insects distribute their energy well and adapt as needed.
Because they are so tiny, insects can only do so much at a time from the energy provided by what they eat. They know their limits and will go far to ensure the best for themselves and the outcome of their young.
I haven't witnessed most of this with my own eyes yet, but I can attest to the analyzers in the lab having set downtimes where they aren’t running tests, so we can do other things on them. Or if we can't ensure accurate tests due to some issue such as low resources, controls aren't working, etc. we'll move to other methods (read blog “Downtime” linked below).
So why don’t we? We are all born with a capacity - and in different areas, it may be different. We only have so much free time. We only have so much money. We only have so much mental space. We only have so much energy. It is our job to be wise and conserve it when necessary. You may have extra cash to give for a time, and then you may have to save. You may have the energy to be a confidant for many for a while, but it's okay if you need a minute yourself. It is impossible to give 100% everywhere all the time.
The world is going to demand more and more of you with no regard for your best interest. Culture is always talking about "energy" and having "big energy" to show up for things and people. No one wants the bare minimum and I get it. However, the pandemic programmed many of us to be selfish to survive. Your goal in life, I believe, is to govern yourself accordingly to not be selfish but to be wise. It's okay to give parts of you, but have limits. We NEED community, but at the point where you feel depleted, something is wrong and needs to be adjusted.
Because I run a blog that talks a lot about community service, I attract givers. Most of my readership is selfless. Our problem is not giving more. We do that naturally. Our problem is to watch our giving to not become a "Chronic Giver."
What's in your cup is for you, "what 'runneth over' the cup is for everybody else" the speaker says.
Always put yourself first. Always fill your cup first. People can tell when you're empty but their human nature won't deny any helping hands. What good would it be to give so much of yourself that even you can't live to your best ability? That's craziness. You can't give 100 from zero. For your and your future's sake, have big energy for you.