Be Gentle With Yourself… Be Gentle With Others

First of all—Hey everyone! Where have you been? I’ve just been hanging out here since last June waiting for someone to come around and say hello but of course every one of you has been ignoring me and it hurts. IT HURTS. Like a knife wound straight to the gut.

Now that we’ve gotten that lie out of the way (I’ve been nowhere near here, pretty much forgot all about my little domain) I’ll go ahead and say that I am the worst keeper-of-the-website ever. Worst. A first-grader could manage this better than me. But whatever. Website maintenance is not a talent I possess. Though starting today, I’m going to do better. Or at least try. It’s my New Year’s Resolution. Although I’ve already broken every other one, so… (but in my defense, giving up coffee and going for daily three mile runs were completely ridiculous ideas in the first place. And don’t get me started on my determination to develop a deep love for folk music…)

But while we’re on the subject of everything I’m terrible at doing, know what else I’m bad at?

Deadlines.

See how I transitioned there? High five to me.

Anyway, I don’t mean to be bad at deadlines, but I am. Now, in contrast, I am good at writing. Very good at writing. And just so you don’t mistake my meaning, what I’m talking about is that I’m good at keeping my sanity while I’m writing. Writing is fun. Writing is relaxing and necessary and something I must do every day. I love it. It feeds my creativity. When I’m feeling stressed, it calms me down and serves as an escape. In the same way some people might relax by watching television or playing piano or painting a picture, I write. It’s what I do. It’s what I’ve always done, long before anyone ever read my work.

I’m good at writing.

But deadlines. Stick me on a deadline, and that’s when everything starts to fall apart. Stick me with two deadlines (as I have been working under for the last eight weeks), and watch out world, hide your pets and children because Amy has come unchained and is acting a little crazy.

I get stressed.

I get emotional.

I start to pace.

I bite my fingernails.

I pick off my mascara with my own hand.

I forget to make phone calls.

I forget to text back.

I overthink.

I overanalyze.

Or maybe overthinking and overanalyzing are the same thing. Are they the same thing? What if they are the same thing and I’ve been using them wrong in sentences all this time? What if they’re not the same thing and I’m doing all this overthinking and overanalyzing and I need therapy? How much is therapy? Is it even worth it? What if I pay a ton of money for it and nothing productive happens and I’m just as stressed and strung out and emotional as ever?

See what I did there? That’s me on a deadline. Worried about everything (namely not making my deadlines on time), while at the same time hoping the ones around me feel well taken care of and unaffected by my ever-affected moods swings.

The good news is this happens to nearly every writer I know. All of them. So at least I’m not alone.

The bad news is—unless I’m able to crawl into a hole by myself for a few weeks (which, come on, sounds amazing. Fellow writers, amIrite??)—the people I’m trying so hard to love and care for absolutely feel aftereffects. I can almost see them slowly backing away.

But want more good news? It’s temporary.

Even more good news—and this is what I’ve been thinking about lately—I think there might be a way to fix it, at least a little. None of this is scientific and maybe not even all that helpful, but it’s something I want to try. Because surprise! I’m still under a deadline, and I’ve had enough of these stupid mood swings to last well into 2017. So here’s are some things I’ve decided to try, in no particular order.

  • Stay off social media. I mean, don’t completely stay off, because of course it’s a writer’s job to sell books and the best way to sell books is —ta da!—on social media. But get on, post your status or photo, and get off. Don’t look at your news feeds. Don’t compare other people’s pictures to yours. Honestly, is there anything worse than seeing someone’s big fat THE END staring you in the face when you haven’t slept in three days and there’s enough coffee swirling around in your veins to keep your local Starbucks supplied for the morning rush hour AND your own THE END seems like it’s never going to come? Or OR…is there anything worse than seeing your friends all out having lunch and watching movies when you’ve barely managed a shower in two days and you smell bad and you don’t even think you look like a girl anymore, never mind a girl that anyone would want to hang out with? No. No there isn’t. So hurry up with the social media, and then shut it down.
  • Go see real people, even for an hour. There’s nothing like sitting in one spot all day to make you feel like a yuck…there’s nothing like staring at computer screen all day to make you feel like you might actually be a hermit just one cat away from being the neighborhood freak. So go talk to someone. Invest in someone. Spend time with someone. Because really, writing is awesome, but people are better. People are ALWAYS better. People are the point of life, above and beyond any story you could ever write.
  • Calm down. The deadline will end. It will end. Say that three more times until you really believe it. And yes, another deadline will come again, but this one will end. It. Will. End.
  • In the name of calming down, stop trying to ward off anything that might go wrong. Your kids haven’t eaten a home cooked meal in days and now they will probably get sick with food poisoning because of it and where will that put you besides at home with sick kids on a deadline all because you’re a bad mom who made them eat pizza again? Well guess what? No kid ever died of pizza consumption, and your kids won’t either.
  • This one’s the hardest: Close your laptop. Close it. No one can work around the clock, and you can’t either. So get away from it and enjoy your kids, your friends, your neighbors. Even if that means you have to open it again when the kids go to bed (which I do every night. Who needs sleep?) But for a few hours each night, close your laptop and live real life. And my final thought…the point of this post:
  • Be gentle with yourself, and be gentle with the people around you. Stress levels ebb and stress levels flow, but the one thing that should remain the same is your level of compassion for others. Your love for others. Your interest in others. Your concern for others. And your concern for yourself. Life is too short to get so caught up in the race that you forget to enjoy the walk. So slow down and enjoy the walk. Enjoy the talk. Enjoy the moment. Because like all other moments before it, this too shall pass.

Okay, gotta run. I have a deadline to meet and a pizza to buy and school’s out in an hour and oh my gosh how did this day go by so fast and I barely managed to get anything done???

Here we go again. ;)

amy matayo signature

P.S. and just to clarify, I love my job. Love it. But I think I can do it better. :)

 

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