A Couple Failures

Saturday, December 10, 2016

A terrifying red mushroom that appeared in my yard and collapsed partially under its own weight.

Allow for me to give a detailed account of the things I didn't do this past month:

I didn't make it to 50,000 words this NaNoWriMo;
I didn't meet my personal fundraising goal for Project As[I]Am to put out another issue;
I got a dramatic injury and didn't go to my first derby practice league meetup;
Due to the same dramatic injury, I did nothing for Thanksgiving other than binge watch TV shows;
Much of my work felt like it got away from me.

All this... and nothing major happened. There was no fiery explosion. My airbags didn't even inflate.

Too often I hold on to a lot of self-judgment about not meeting my own (admittedly very high) expectations. For a few months now, I have been skidding along on my own efficiency - I am incredibly good at working and getting things in on deadline, even if it means that I'm working up to the last minute. But this month was riddled with more than the usual ebbs and flows in productivity. I first got a cold, then another one. I got a tailbone injury which had me unable to easily sit upright.  And, of course, you know what else happened last month. The secondary trauma response that fired up in me post-election was as searing as the tailbone pain, radiating outward in waves. There's a reflection to be written about that sometime - I'll add it to my already tall stack of deadlines.

I got particularly anxious this month when I started feeling like the things on my plate were piling ever higher. I would have a day when I could get back to my usual productivity and then crashed completely the next. I started using a goal-setting calendar app that gives you reminders and there would be 5-7 sitting on my home screen all day everyday. What a guilt trap.

But I also found myself relying on the oft-repeated advice to be gentle and kind to oneself. No one is clamoring to read my book. No one needs me to speak on a panel or facilitate a workshop (though I'd gladly take the gig). No one is blowing up my social media about when my next piece is coming out. Though it may sound like a cold comfort, I was reminded that there is a kind of luxury in not having a completely public life.

Instead I've been relishing smaller behind-the-scenes victories like working with my first doula client in over a year. I've been doing the #100RejectionsChallenge and submitting far more often than ever before. I have been truly absorbed by good literature and lectures, particularly this one by Sheila Heti. Paradoxically, all those reminders on my phone are helping me remember what I really want to be doing rather than just moving from task to task like an automaton. In that way, I am setting a solid foundation for myself while the world around me is shifting in so many perceptible and imperceptible ways. It's time to be safe and take the best care that we can.