Sometimes I look at my Twitter and Facebook feed and get depressed. I look at the books being put out by my writer friends and the prizes being won by my colleagues and fellow creatives and I feel more than a twinge of frustration and despair. I wonder where their well of energy comes from, I wonder how they beat the obstacles - inside and outside of them - and think that I'll never catch up with them.
My health has not been the greatest the last few months. I'm tired all the time, my digestive system is unpredictable and I seem to be picking up every bug lying around. Creative work goes by the wayside when all you can do is recover from the latest physical setback.
Back in the day, I would drive myself even harder myself when I'm like this. And if I don't reach impossible heights of productivity, I berate myself for being inefficient.
I'm kinder to myself now. I tell myself that I'm doing the best I can with the number of spoons I'm given and that it's okay, no, it's necessary to put myself first even if people demand that I meet their needs first - or else.
A lot of times, when you decide to slow down, you get pushback from people who are used to you being a workhorse. I sure did when I decided to work a normal 8 hours a day instead of my usual 12 to 14. But I tell myself this: Who gets to live with the consequences if I neglect myself? Yours truly.
I also tell myself that it's okay not to meet shiny penny goals. I also ask myself: Truly, what are you trying to prove, driving yourself to the brink of exhaustion to collect those shiny pennies?
Still, sometimes, let's be realistic. Giving up your shiny pennies can cost you a lot. Often, it's a choice between one desirable thing and another. Sad as it is - we can't have everything. For example, when I left Australia for Malaysia, I was me putting myself first, but I was also leaving behind a very big shiny penny: the coveted Australian life.
Yes, I'd finish my second 120k-word novel later than I thought.
But that's okay.
Because my health, my well being, is far more important.
Photo by Benjamin Combe