I don’t know when I started getting anxious about interacting with strangers.
When I was a kid, trick-or-treat was not even a question. The task was simple: go to the door, knock, say a thing, get candy. Boom. Then do it as many times as possible before people started turning off their lights and hiding.
Now? If I get a piece of mail that belongs to my neighbor, I’m immediately in crawling-over-enemy-lines mode. I pull out spreadsheets and paper bags and I focus on not losing my mind over having to actually walk over and give it to them for the love of God why.
It’s so important to try to recall that joyful abandon that most people had as children. When we were kids, we had no problem asking people for things. We could wear stupid crap and love every second. We didn’t worry constantly about being judged (maybe now and then but not like adults do). We would draw pictures and paint and at no point did we go, “I’m not sure if this crayon dinosaur is really promoting my brand. Could I be doing something better with my time right now?”
Play. Don’t overthink the tiny things. Get stuff done because once you get that stuff done you can do something fun. Decide why you want something and then do the thing. Because remember the really, really great part about being an adult: you don’t need permission from anyone. No bedtimes. So long as you aren’t hurting anyone, you get to decide what you’re doing.
Now go get some damn candy.
I read a piece in the New York Times today that I found during my nightly looksie of the Twittersphere. It was tucked away between political ramblings, San Diego Comic Con calm down and adorable doodles. It was about writers and their perspective on their body of work, and how there seems to be this constant malaise after pieces are done. According to this writer, at the end of the day, writers can’t even stand to look at what they’ve done, and there is this terrible feeling of disappointment.
And I found myself tipping my head and feeling really, really sad.
During my twenties, I owned the whole image of ‘serious’ writers as these downtrodden, perpetually anxious, sighing lot. “Writers are supposed to be miserable,” I was essentially told. “Happy writers aren’t good writers.” Being a writer meant, if the ‘classic’ examples were to be any indication, hating the process, loathing the words themselves and doing it because it was a calling. For if we did not, then who would? It all came off very masochistic. And not even in the good way.
If I had a time machine, I would go back to the twenty-something me, shake her a little and go, “Yeah, okay, that’s garbage. Stop looking at that shit and go write something you’ll love.”
And I don’t just mean the content itself, but the whole process. Write something you’ll love making. Write something you’ll look forward to looking at. Write something that you can hand off to a friend and be like, “Hey, man, I wrote this thing. All of these words came out of my brainstuffs!” Don’t look at what you’ve written as some sort of reminder of your mortality or some posse of gargoyle antagonists sitting on your shelf, waiting for you to go to sleep so they can whisper thoughts of fear and failure in your ear. Put party hats on your books. Sure, the early stuff probably is ripe with terrible prose, but laugh at it the way you would at baby pictures.
Yeah, dude, we’re all going to die (unless someone is here and willing to give me robot parts, because seriously, sign me the eff up). So if you’re going to take on something as your art and you are going to be spending at least a decent portion of your waking hours doing it, then maybe you ought to at least like it, right?
Sometimes you don’t have a lot of time to take care of yourself. But everyone has 5 minutes they can spare. You can:
Post something inspirational on your social media of choice
Create an Inspiration board on Pinterest and add something to it
Look at cute animals
Write a blog post
Call or text a friend to tell them you are thinking of them
Say ‘thank you’ to someone who has been supportive
Clear off your desk
Put something back where it belongs
Get a cold drink
Do nothing — allow yourself to indulge in the stillness of inaction
Write down a cheerful message and put it somewhere – look for it the next time you’re having a bad day
Make a sandwich
Play a puzzle game online
Start a one-sentence journal
Sing, dance, or yell into a pillow
It’s easy to say you don’t have time. But is it true?