In the late sixties and early seventies, one could pull into a gas station and have a person run out and say, “Can I fill her up for ya?” Her, of course meant the car’s gas tank.
These days we have to fill the tank ourselves when we pull into the gas station. Likewise, we are all responsible for filling our own tanks, as well. The phrase “I need to fill my tank” has become an idiom for completing oneself. It stands for filling up with whatever is needed to feel complete, as opposed to being drained.
When you feel drained physically, you rest. You might take a nap or get an extra hour of sleep at night. You might use a heating pad or ice pack on sore muscles. You might even take a pain reliever like ibuprofen, if needed. You might start to pay more attention to your diet. But, the extra rest is the most important.
When you feel your tank is low cognitively, you search for new knowledge and something to learn. This might mean a new hobby, a new course of study, a foreign language, or even a career change. The cognitive tank might take a while to fill. It also can be draining in other ways when trying to fill this particular tank.
When our social tank is low, we seek out friends and activities that we enjoy. Social tanks have taken a hit for most everyone during the pandemic. College has not been “the same” for my two students in school. Sadly, I’m not sure college will ever be what it once was. There used to be a great deal of social learning along with the degree seeking for college students. This year socializing in college has been non-existent thanks to the COVID pandemic.
And, even for older folks – like my husband and I, our social circles that were already small have shrunk. Going to the YMCA stopped, having coffee dates stopped, eating out stopped. It’s been an especially difficult year to fill one’s social tank.
And, then there is one’s emotional tank. This is probably the most variable tank for people. Even those of us who need a high degree of solitary time, need to know we are cared for and belong. It’s hard to receive support when one feels isolated. There seems to be so much judging going on in the world today. We cannot spend time with others due to the pandemic, so time spent on devices have increased. People feel free to attack others on social platforms regularly and easily. People are assigned to arbitrary groups based on a statement or two or even the lack a statement or reaction. Everyone is stressed emotionally right now. We are pining for something lost, that might never be returned and still have to find a way to move forward. We still need that connection to our fellow man/woman. In short, we still need love and acceptance. All of us do. Every single one.
This weekend a friend told me I was helping to fill her tank. I knew exactly what she meant because she was helping to fill mine, as well. We still need people to fill our tanks, just like the old gas station attendants did for our cars.