It’s a Monday morning and I’m sitting in my office. I’ve been here for well over an hour, mostly alternating between staring at the blank page in the word processor and staring at my calendar and all the colorful dots it contains. I can safely say that 2023 is, very possibly, the busiest year of my life so far. I wonder if maybe after a few years of being not busy, this degree of busy just seems so due to life getting more “normal.”
But I do suspect some of this is my own doing, as thrice this year (see, breaking out the fancy words) I have accidentally overextended myself. Now, you may be asking yourself “How does one accidentally overextend themselves?” The answer is simple. I said “yes” to some things without realizing they were all going to be within rapid succession of one another. So suddenly that gig you said “yes” to back in March for August has arrived, and you said “yes” to three other things at the same time, and the next thing you know you’re completely exhausted.
The panic always sets in on a Monday. You sit and you look at the calendar app of your choice, I typically do this with my coffee on my iPad. You think about all you need to do that week, and you look to see what is ahead. I’ll assume there are maybe one to two things, then you look and see you have only two free days for the next two weeks. That is when the feeling of dread and panic sets in. As you look at it and you think “Wait, how did I do this to myself?”
It’s one thing to do it yourself once during the year, but now I’ve done it almost three times and I’m starting to worry about myself a bit. Burnout is very real, and I think I have a bad habit of not recognizing when it happens. I tend to push myself too much. I often think I’m not being “creative enough,” working “hard enough,” or “doing enough.” I put all those things into quotes as there very much is a cultural mentality that you’re supposed to wear yourself down into an emotionless stump.
Yet I don’t buy that, usually. I think as a creative human we need rest and often rest is when we do our best thinking. Whenever I have trouble trying to find the best way to approach a project, I’ll often go to an antique mall or thrift store and just wander around. I’m also thinking about the project, and usually just poking around those places will kick off the dust and I’ll find the angle I’m looking for. If I had spent that time instead in my office just pacing and feeling pressure to come up with “something,” I don’t think it would be good.
As Fall is right around the corner the question for me is will I over-book myself yet again? This is my favorite time of the year coming up, and I want to enjoy it very much. I know my October is already looking a bit like it may be a little overbooked, but most of that should be fun things. But, nonetheless, rest is important. A friend told me recently when I was pushing myself to get something done before a deadline “You can’t pour from an empty well.”
This is true, and words I need to keep in mind. When I look back on this year I will surely think of it as one of the busiest of my life, but I hope it will also look back on it as the year when I began to realize that you need to build in breaks to keep yourself from falling apart. See you next week.