On Falling Behind

A stream of consciousness post…

Some days it feels like it takes all I can do to not fall behind on everything. It’s hard enough to go through the day to day–work, food, pets, bills, exercise, grocery shopping, errand running, sleeping, paying side hustle, non-paying side hustle (is it still a side-hustle, then?), editing, reading–you know, the usual list of a million things, give or take, that we all have rattling around in our brains.

I find when I have one of those days–days where I am working non-stop on x, y, or z and feel uber productive before I turn to look at the clock and see how behind I am. I still have a,b,c,d and the rest of the alphabet to get through. Why is the end of the list taking so dang long?

Days like this make it particularly hard to not to get too far into my own head. I can easily start to feel bad that I am so busy surviving that there is no room for creating. Sometimes I look at writers and creatives I admire and the astonish number of things they have coming up–events, workshops, signings, releases, publications–and think to myself how on earth do they do it all? This goes for both agented full time writers and unagented little writers like me who are trying to publish and stumbling every now and then trying to build their list of writing credits.

Writing is hard. Life is hard. And we all have to deal with at least one of those things, even if you are not a writer. So, there’s that.

Sometimes I have to remind myself of this. Writing is hard. That’s why so many people don’t do it. That’s why so many people give up and move on to something else. Yes, I have my day job which is one of the most un-writerly things I do day to day where I do math and create spreadsheets and update websites and maintain databases of complicated information and deal with state regulations. It’s hard, too, but in a different way. Yet a lot more people have jobs like mine than write, and I’m not giving up on the writing side of my life. At least not any time soon.

When you’re feeling as if you’ve fallen behind, remember that you’re actually ahead. You’re ahead of a lot of people who will never even try writing, and ahead of people who gave it a fair shot and still thought it was too hard. You’re right where you should be, not behind. Not for your journey and your ultimate destination.

So don’t get overwhelmed, take one thing at a time of that mile long to do list. And remember that writing is hard–if it was easy everyone would be doing it.

On Fear

Over the course of the past several weeks I feel like I have been hit with the same kind of advice coming at me from so many different directions: fear is not a reason to say no.

Admittedly, I didn’t think much of it initially.  I was reading a book that said pretty much word for word that of all the reasons not to try, fear is not one.  Well, that’s great advice.  I wasn’t denying it, but I thought it was just a nice sentiment some author had a character say in a book.  But then it came up again a couple chapters later, and then it came up in a show I’m watching, and by now I feel like God is really trying to tell me something.

I even just realized that the song I am currently listening to while writing this has a similar message.

I get it now – I think? – but that doesn’t make facing something that scares you any easier.  I know in my head that fear is actually a good instinct that sometimes can spur you to action when you’re in danger.  But I also know in my heart that the only reason that explanation even pops into my head is because I’m trying to come up with an excuse.

There are a lot of opportunities or things in my life that have come up lately that scare me a little bit.  Some involve personal or entrepreneurial goals that give me pause and make me nervous, but others involve other people and the prospect of putting myself out there into a world that can oftentimes be so, very cruel.  But, I am feeling encouraged by my random (or perhaps more truthfully, ordained) stumblings across YouTube videos about seeking discomfort and running headlong into things that scare you.

So, while this blog post is all about fear, it is also about hope.  It’s about possibility and about how things could go shockingly well if you would only give them a try.  It’s about not letting fear get the best of you (or me…this is also a pep talk for myself here.)

I am choosing in this moment to heed the signs that keep being placed right in front of me and head into what scares me rather than steering around it, and I hope you – whoever is reading this – take this to heart, too.

After all, we’re all scared, but we just shouldn’t let it get to us.

On Growth Spurts

I, like most people, went through several growth spurts during middle school.  For most of my life I’ve been taller than the majority of kids my age, so these spurts were unwelcome.  I was more mature than many my age, too, which wasn’t always the most fun (though now I see it as a huge blessing).

I got braces smack dab in the middle of sixth grade, leaving me to be one of the only middle schoolers with metal wires stuck to my teeth and an adjuster situated in the roof of my mouth that was cranked with a key.

Growth spurts are not always fun when they occur in one’s formative years.  They make for awkward conversations, awkward feelings, and awkward appearances.  I am coming to learn, though, that growth spurts continue long after one has actually stopped growing.

Life has a way of stretching a person out.  We are all constantly being molded to fit the shape of the place we are in.  This is a type of growth, a type of re-shaping.  It is a harsh and soft process all at once.

Growth, if we are all being honest, is painful.  Even the physical type of growth can be – I distinctly remember my mother telling me that the occasional aches and pains I experienced in my limbs were growing pains.  Despite the pain that sometimes comes from growth, it is a beautiful thing.

As I have come to very recently recognize, I have been in a phase of growth for the past couple of years.  Looking back on where I was last year is startling.  There has been growth since then – it hurt at times and made me cry at others, but it was still growth.

Sometimes the only way to become a better person is to run through the fire, or slog through the mud, if I’m going to be more accurate.  I think the worst part about periods of growth is that I can tell when I am in one, mainly because it hurts in new and unexpected ways than ever before, but I cannot see the end goal.  I can’t see the person I will be in a week, in a month, in a year, I just know that person will be different than the person currently making her way through the swampland.

I find in these moments I must look to the good that I know will come of this, even though I don’t know when.  I can only grasp at what the future might bring – the brilliant dawn at the end of a dark night that I know will eventually come.  I must grasp on to hope for better times yet to come, for a better me that is yet to come.  I know one day I will be that person reflecting back on life and recognizing the beauty that came from this present pain.

And I can only hope that person will be a better one.