I regret to report that it’s been six days since I last blogged.
Yep. Six days. And after all my promises of blogging five times per week. I am a fraud.
But allow me to explain myself, at least somewhat. I had three days in bed suffering from an illness, two days of fulfilling social/family obligations (mostly revolving around a Christening and a birthday), one day recovering from all of this… and then there was yesterday.
While I did manage to squeeze in one blog amidst all of the illness and running around preparing for parties and catching up on errands, yesterday was the day I was supposed to come back swinging. It was a Monday, after all. A new week, a fresh start, a clean slate.
Instead, I let the day pass me by as I sat in melancholy and wondered where to start.
This is what happens to me when I fall behind. It’s been one of my major downfalls with college that’s kept bringing me back to old recycled thoughts of “guess I had better drop out. Otherwise I’ll just fail anyway. There’s no way to rectify this now”.
Because, unfortunately, the ‘To Do’ lists are accumulative. If I don’t tick everything off one day, the next day the list has doubled. And if I’m sick for three days and then have two days blocked out for other commitments, well… it means it’s gonna be a nasty workload to tackle when I eventually get around to it.
And so, procrastination ensues.
It’s one of my talents, really. I’m just waiting for procrastination to become an Olympic sport so I can take home the gold and receive some positive recognition for what I do best. Unfortunately, I don’t expect any positive recognition for this talent any time soon.
When my work accumulates, so does my anxiety. It’s not long before I’m overwhelmed by a slight deviation in my plan for productivity, and I’m quick to resign myself to the thought that I’ll never be productive again. It’s already too late. Six days later and I may as well give up blogging.
It sounds dramatic when put down in writing like that (and hey, I guess it is dramatic) but there is always a logical progression to my thoughts which leads me to assume that it’s too late to carry on; that I have to change my plan; that it’s not working.
And sure, it doesn’t always work. I’ve been at this for a few weeks now and it hasn’t exactly gone to plan. My schedule has been a little erratic and my presence on social media has faltered a lot, as it frequently does.
BUT. It’s still going. Not perfectly, but it’s going.
Despite thoroughly exercising the flexibility of my schedule and my sudden temporary disappearance from the internet in general, my blog has not really suffered and nor has my writing. And that’s the ultimate goal here, right? To create a career for myself as a writer. So if my writing is fine, that must mean that everything else is fine too…?
But back to this logical progression of thoughts which consistently leads me back to thoughts of quitting.
It starts off with some light beating myself up.
“Why haven’t you done anything today? You had all day. You’re not sick anymore. You have no excuses! Why didn’t you write? Why didn’t you blog? Why didn’t you film your first video for YouTube? Why didn’t you clean your room or make dinner or just something? Why did you sit around all day watching videos of magicians and comedians? How has any of that helped benefit your future? Well?”
Once that bit’s done, Brain moves on to “How do we rectify this?”
It runs through multiple plans at once, trying to fathom whether or not it’s feasible that I can catch up on what I’ve missed. Often, the answer is no. Then it asks the question “Can we carry on, now that things have strayed so far from what we had intended?” Generally the answer is yes, but my brain often miscalculates.
This has led me to abandon many a project in the past; anxiety, the feeling of being overwhelmed, the feeling of failure. It’s what led me to consider changing my newly-formed blogging schedule altogether, and honestly, I haven’t ruled that out yet.
In my panicked state yesterday I managed to convince myself that I’ll never be able to blog five times per week as well as write a novel as well as attempt a YouTube channel. And maybe that’s true, but I wouldn’t really know yet because I haven’t tried. So before I go reorganising everything from scratch, what I really need to do is to LIGHTEN UP.
Seriously! The drama. It’s too much.
The world keeps on turning and there will always be another day to write a blog or to make a YouTube video. It may not be the most effective or efficient way to do it, but it can always get done.
This may sound like some sort of procrastination-approval message, but it’s really not: I hate the fact that I procrastinate and I wish I was a more efficient worker who could just ignore those mean feelings that anchor me in my bed of unproductivity. I wish I could just work through it. So this isn’t that.
Instead, it’s a note to myself that mental health comes first. This is something I am constantly trying to impress upon others, no matter what the stakes. My position remains the same; mental health, and then everything else.
Yesterday, this was exactly how I should have prioritised. I had to stop willing myself to do work which I just wasn’t capable of at the time. What I needed was to let myself off the hook, and only then was I able to start functioning again.
Once I had thrown away the idea that a blog and/or a YouTube video was on the agenda, I was able to get up and actually put my time to relatively good use. I had a shower and cleaned my room. I got myself some food (the first in a while) and I made a simple plan for today so that I wouldn’t have to face the same feelings of stress and panic that I had already experienced. I got to bed early and had the best night’s sleep that I’ve had in a long time.
I got up early today and put my very clear and reasonable plan into action. So far I’ve spent some time with my partner, done some reading for my dissertation next semester, caught up on some social media things and I’ve written this blog. Meandering as it may be, it’s a summation of what things have been like over the last few days and some commentary on some of my less fortunate patterns of behaviour.
Although Confessions of A College Dropout mainly seeks to explore various methods of self-improvement and productivity, it is primarily a blog about mental health matters. That’s been my game since day one.
So if I have to choose between productivity and taking care of my state of mind, my mind will win every time.
After all, without my mental health I haven’t got much else, have I?