I like to call this week between Christmas and New Year’s the “cheese week.” You’re not exactly sure what day it is, you’re vaguely confused about everything, and you’re full of cheese. And yet you eat more cheese. At least, that’s how we do it around here. But Cheese Week is full of odd shapes and holes. Time stretches out as a vast expanse of possibility on that first post-holiday morning and shrinks into an anxiety induced flurry of activity by the time the 31st rolls around. Did I do everything I could that I wanted to this year? Is the house clean? Are the decorations put away? Am I ready for the psychological and physical toll the year 2022 has waiting for me? Am I thinking too much about how 2022 is literally pronounced 2020 2, like it’s the sequel no one wanted but is coming your way anyhow?
My therapist would laugh at me posing these questions and remind me of the thing she tells me every session: IT IS OK TO REST. IT IS NOT ILLEGAL TO REST.
“BUT THE THINGS!” I will cry.
“REST!” she will chide.
And so we continue like this forever until my insurance decides not to cover her anymore and I start the entire process over with a new person on the chair.
But they’re always right about the rest, these therapists, though they’ll admit they don’t take their own advice as much as they should. You cannot create or work for long periods of time without rest. You need to take a break to give yourself a chance to feel like yourself for a minute. Go be bored. Take a nap. Take a small walk around your neighborhood. Set that project you feel is going nowhere to the side for a month and come back with fresh eyes.
But it’s a THING. And it’s THERE. And it MUST BE DONE.
“If I take a break, I may miss a chance that leads to me being successful!”
Yes. That may happen. You can also go too hard and when the chance does come along it’ll be given to someone who isn’t burnt out. Trust me, I have lost out big time like that. Twice.
You can hold onto something so tight/You’ve already lost itU2 “Dirty Day”
When I first started this blog back in 2008, I did not understand the concept of burning out. Stopping anything for any amount of time was not an option. Part of this was because our society thinks it is appropriate to charge an enormous amount of money for college and I was working several jobs just to get by. Part of it was I enjoyed the attention I got from blogging about Athens daily. But it did catch up to me, you can see it in the archives. Long stretches, YEARS, without posts. I was GONE. Burnt to a crisp both as a blogger/writer and a human being. I took some time during 2020 and 2021 to try and remedy all of that. Yeah, wouldn’t recommend trying to REST during a plague but I was given the gift of distance and silence. So I tried. And I did something I wouldn’t have dared do in my 20s. I gave myself permission to suck.
Someone asked me why I was going to start all over and try again. It’s not starting all over again to me. It’s more like starting New Game +. I’ve already been here, done these things, written and listened and spoke and on and on. But I’ve got some experience behind me and time. So now I can move forward and truly SUCK while knowing that it doesn’t erase what I’ve done before. I can FAIL and it not be the end of all things. And I hope that others can find that spot where you’re not afraid to rest and not afraid to suck at your craft. Give yourself credit for what you’ve done! Go forth and BOMB.
All of this is easier said than done. After all, it has taken me over a decade to get over myself. But I hope, during this “cheese week,” you get to truly rest without pondering what’s next. Please, stay safe, and have the happiest of holidays.