This year was a rollercoaster, but not the crazy twisty kind where you scream at the top of it and your stomach drops while you’re both excited and terrified of falling to your death. It was more like Thunder Mountain at Disneyland: an interesting, pleasant ride with its own kinds of gradual rises, dips, and twists (it even gets a little dark at one point!), but nothing that would send you sideways or vomiting into your ride partner’s lap.
The not-sexy part of my year: burnout, exhaustion, and chronically feeling unanchored from purpose. I was productive—I was getting shit done—but I was spinning my wheels, waking up tired, going to work tired, and then collapsing into bed, still tired. I started noticing some of the symptoms of my overwhelm: I couldn’t focus on the smallest tasks at times, I lacked motivation, and I sometimes even lost my appetite (if you know how much I love to eat, you know this is HUGE). My therapist told me I needed a vacation. This phase was difficult to trudge through, and I knew something needed to change.
Something unusual about me: I am terrific at instigating and managing changing.
It took more months, but I eventually found the change I needed.
Job searching can take months. I was changing industries—I wanted out of higher education—and that made the situation harder because I hardly had any contacts outside of the field I’ve been in for four years, but I made it happen. I spent hours almost every night scouring LinkedIn, tweaking my resume, writing cover letters, and reaching out to people for informational interviews.
Amidst all of that, some pretty cool stuff happened.
In no particular order: I traveled to San Francisco and attended the 2018 Game Developers Conference for work. I traveled to New Orleans, where I gave my first talk ever at a professional conference. I got married and had the best wedding ever. I planned commencement, which over 1000 people attended. I got a new job (hello windows, natural lighting, and standing desk!) and got a massive raise. I applied for and received my business license. I have made over $1000 as a freelancer since opening my business to the public. I’ve edited three books, and I’ve signed two new contracts as a freelance editor since then. I am slowly, but surely, getting a hold on my finances and paying off debt from my wedding, from my student loans, and from moving—oh, yeah. I moved into and now rent a lovely house! I’ve consistently practiced yoga for two months now. My credit score is really fucking fantastic. I love my husband and my puppy. I’ve enrolled in a copyediting certification program at USCD starting in January.
Here’s the less inspirational stuff: I spend at least one to two hours a day, and a few hours on the weekends, working on projects related to my work outside of my full-time job. I lose sleep every week, sometimes only getting five hours or sleep, because I have deadlines to meet that I’ve put on myself. I’ve failed. A lot. I’ve put out offers that returned zero clients, and I’ve submitted over 50 proposals that never got back to me. I need to file my business taxes in January, and I have no idea where to start (though I WILL find out how, eventually). I am still in debt totaling a little over $10K. I’ve invested a significant amount of money and time into propping up my business. I am coming to terms with my own occasional feelings of envy towards other’s lives and capabilities; I’ve struggled with overcoming writer’s block for over half a year now and I am learning that, often, my own brain is my own worst enemy.
And… all of that is fine and dandy. Really. There is room to grow, for which I am thankful, and I don’t regret any of it; I’ve chosen most of these circumstances because I prefer them over the other options. This year could have been a lot worse. The world isn’t a happy place right now, but I’m blessed to be living my life the way I am. I am grateful everyday for what I have. Like most people—if not, all people—behind my chipper and upbeat Instagram and Facebook posts, I, too, face messiness and frustration and doubt and anxiety and I, too, sometimes turn up to the sky and let out a loud, unpleasant expletive. A string of them, even, and often. The work isn’t always sexy and smooth and easy and shiny and cool, but it’s doing the work that matters—and I stay transparent and real about it because that’s what I believe is helpful for others. Lord knows I’ve fallen into my own shame spirals because other’s seemingly perfect Instagram and Facebook lives.
I’d love to know if anything I wrote connected with you; and, of course, feel free to share with me if anything salient came up for you while you were reading this blog post.
What were some of your difficult moments this year, and what did you learn from them? What memories from this year do you cherish the most? How have you grown this year?