I’ve been feeling pretty rough around the edges lately. I can’t fall asleep and I wake up tired and I feel constantly dehydrated. Maybe it’s just that it’s the summer, maybe it’s my impending 25th birthday, reminding me that I’m no longer in my early 20s, no longer a student, no longer “just starting out.” Maybe you've been feeling stretched a little thin too, because it seems like everyone has been feeling this way - my family, my friends, even strangers in yoga.
I’ve been getting in this terrible cycle of working too much and then coming home and feeling like I need to stay busy with all kinds of mundane crap that isn’t even necessary – all these blogging workshops and InDesign seminars and online courses in entreneurship – the kind of stuff that feels productive but is really just another way of consuming, but in a way that makes you feel better about yourself. I’ll let myself sit down and spend a night watching stuff if the stuff feels educational somehow. But none of it’s getting me anywhere. It’s just distracting me from the real work – working through my continuing issues with anxiety, finding a job that makes me feel more fulfilled and less drained, finishing the story I’ve put off writing for months. I have always struggled with feeling like I’m not enough, like my work isn’t enough, my stories aren’t interesting and my acting isn’t brave enough. And then I feel like I have to work myself to the bone to prove my existence has value. It turns out, that’s not helpful to anyone.
I’ve spent a long time beating myself up because it’s really hard for me to both work full time and make all the art I want to make. Everyone else works full time and makes art constantly, don’t they? Why can’t I? But I don’t think that’s true. When I take my thoughts out of my head and put them on paper and look at them through clear eyes, it seems obvious that other people must be struggling like I am. Because I am probably just as able and competent as most other people (even though sometimes I don’t feel that way). I don’t know if I have answers for this. I’m still struggling with learning how to be an artist and a member of a capitalist society who needs to find a way to keep paying back her student loans. I haven’t learned how to comfortably merge those two identities and responsibilities yet. Maybe it’ll be something I struggle with forever. But for now, at least, it’s enough to realize that I’m not the only one who struggles. I cannot do it all. You probably cannot do it all. But that’s cool. We don’t have to do it all. I’m feeling very emotional and tender tonight so I’m going to make myself a smoothie tonight and tuck myself into bed and watch “Murder She Wrote” until I fall asleep, and I’m not going to worry about changing my sheets, or watching a webinar, or writing a cover letter, or tearing myself into shreds chasing a feeling of worthiness. I heartily recommend you do the same.