I owe you all a post from Wednesday. I’ve been sitting here, wondering what to write because, honestly, I feel like I have nothing worth sharing. Not that that is a new feeling, but especially this week, I have even less to say than usual.
And, as I was sitting here, curled up on the couch, still in my PJs at one in the afternoon, playing phone games as I mentally assessed whether I had the energy to work on my book, go through my e-mails, or catch up on all my messages, I finally realized what has been going on with me this week – and possibly last week too.
Chadwick is having a party. In my head. Yup. He’s been dancing around up there, shoving any purpose or usefulness to the corners, and bringing out banners and trumpets, each louder than the last as days pass by.
I haven’t talked about my burnout in awhile–not really talked about it anyway. Honestly, I got tired of hearing myself talk about it, complaining about “nothing”. Next month will be the one year anniversary of quitting my job, and, frankly, I feel like I have nothing to show for it. I haven’t been published, not even a short story. I don’t have an agent. I am not making any income from writing.
But one thing has been accomplished: I am finally getting up in the mornings again. I am not dreading life (for the most part). I no longer fall asleep while the dentist is working on my teeth because I’m so exhausted. And perhaps most importantly, I am beginning to miss working. Miss having a purpose, feeling like I’m influencing national security, etc. You know what this means? It means recovery. It means that, finally, after having one blessed year, I am creeping back to normal. Of course, for a goal-oriented person, this means one thing. It means goals, and figuring out the balance between laziness and recovery. So, I’ve been trying to get up “early”. Trying to work all day (it doesn’t go well). Trying to re-energize myself to do…well, things. So far, since I’ve been trying this for a month and a half, it seems to go something like: first four days of a week, get up on time, follow my schedule, feel super accomplished, and then completely crash. Following week, get up late, feel miserable about who I am, try to do something and feel overwhelmed as Chadwick dances around in my head telling me what a complete imbecilic failure I am. Repeat.
This past week has been particularly bad. In an effort to actually educate myself in the genre in which I am trying to be published, I checked out a bunch of books from the library and gave myself permission to read them. During the day. You know what that translates to? It translates to me sitting on the couch, finishing a book in the morning while fighting off Chadwick’s constant pokes in the side that I am just using it as an excuse to read, and then spending the afternoon, staring into the distance, thinking about:
- the book
- leading to needing to do a book review, thinking about how awful I am on book reviews, whether to be truthful or generous, wondering if I can skip book reviews, whether I should rewrite my own book to be better (read: more like the one I just read), etc.
- the email I haven’t caught up on
- leading to follow-up calls I need to make, guilt for not thoroughly reading and responding to other author newsletters, guilt for not doing my own newsletter, terror I will find another rejection, shame I haven’t sent out more queries, etc.
- friend’s messages I haven’t responded to
- leading to whether I am a good friend, whether I am too pushy, whether I follow up enough on their lives, or too much, etc.
- How crazy the world is right now
- leading to frustration, fear, and wondering what God might want me to do about it and how to do it without estranging people who disagree with me
- editing my book
- leading to: AHHHHHHHHHHHHH….PANIC!!! PANIC!!!
- followed by: IT WILL NEVER BE GOOD ENOUGH AND WHY DO I KEEP TRYING
- then followed by: If you were serious about being an author, you would hunker down and ignore everything else in life until you finished editing this thing
And all this, of course, leads to me sitting on the couch, or, if I am really trying to make myself feel better, cleaning and making food, the rest of the day, feeling like a louse and dismal failure lying to everyone on social media by presenting a good front.
And do you know how good Chadwick is? I didn’t even think he has been visiting lately because I viewed (and, technically, still view) everything he was telling me as truth. I was just telling myself the truth all week – and last week – and the week before – and justly telling myself that I am being absurd, lazy, and that there is a reason I am failing. Chadwick had nothing to do with it.
And yet, there is this little, niggling something in the pit of my stomach that tells me…it’s okay. It’s okay to still be recovering. It might not be okay to be skipping time with God, but it doesn’t mean He will welcome me any less when I go crawling back to Him after a week of forgetting. It’s okay to not be published. To not know whether I want to go back to a real job. To have a good week and a bad week. And it really is legitimate to be reading contemporary romances to gain knowledge about the genre I’m currently writing. And if I try – just try – and write 100 words, and edit half a scene in my book, it is still okay, and certainly better than sitting there doing nothing more than thinking about it.
I just sat here re-reading this and staring for fifteen minutes as I had a mental battle in my head about 1. how ridiculous I am and 2. whether it really is okay and 3. what profound thing to finish up with.
But I have no profound conclusion. I don’t miraculously feel better about myself. Chadwick might be sitting still and pouting right now as I write this out, but he’s still there, a giant blob in the middle of my mind, reminding me I am not perfect. I am probably not going to magically reset over the weekend and be perfect next week (though you never know). I don’t have all the answers.
So you know what? I am going to try to turn my gaze away from myself for a moment, and think about you. There is far too much self-gazing in the world right now – people thinking about how they’ve been wronged, how they are right and others are wrong, about what a tough time they are going through, about their own struggles…what would happen if for one day, just one day, the entire world turned their gaze to someone else?
So, I’m going to look at you and remember, anyone reading this is having a tough time with something in their lives. Anyone reading this has felt like a failure at some point. Anyone reading this has their own Chadwick dancing in their heads. Anyone reading this has felt alone and misunderstood before. So, this post is for you. You are not alone. We all feel that way through seasons in life. We’ve all been there. You are just going through a season, and there are more people who love you than you know. If you are struggling to accomplish a dream, I believe in you–keep going. If you are trying to heal from an illness, whether physical, mental or spiritual, I am next to you in spirit, holding your hand and listening–but more importantly, so is God. If you don’t think you make a difference in this world, look again. God didn’t create you for no reason. I guarantee there is someone in this world you have influenced for good, and you might have no idea.
And I’m going to pray for you. If you have specific prayer requests, feel free to comment, but even if you don’t, I’m still going to pray for you today.