This is the third to final Thursday of the year, and what better time to talk about feeling overwhelmed with continuing to succeed when the failure will be very public?
I’m writing more words per day than 1,000 at this point, and that has become something of a trial in itself. I’m feeling the pressure to succeed.
I’m feeling it squeeze in on me from all sides. Family and friends have started paying attention again. They’re watching in these, my final days. Will he succeed? Will he fail? Do we want him to win? How great would it be if he missed the last day just to troll everyone?
These are things I think about.
I never said I was right in the head.
Partly Impostor Syndrome, partly just a fear of success and what that means, partly just that I have been writing every day for 350 straight days without a single day off. I may be in for the long haul. I may be dedicated to completion. But those things wear on the mind, the body, the soul.
I have never looked forward to the end of something as much as I’m looking forward to this year. I am running headlong into burnout, and not just for writing. You have to have breaks. I must have breaks.
But this year I sacrificed so much of my free time to go chasing a particular dragon, and as good as the year has been for my productivity and my motivation and my self-esteem, I will never, EVER, do a thing like it again.
When Day 365 comes and goes and I close the door on the year, I don’t even know what I will feel. Joy at succeeding? Regret for not accomplishing more? Anger that I wasted all my time? An overwhelming emptiness that it’s over? Fear that as much as it means to me, no one else gives a single shit about it after I pass or fail?
I think it’s going to be a complex tapestry, and a large part of it is going to be relief. Relief that I have undertaken a ridiculously difficult task and managed it for the entire year without fail (or with minimal failure, year’s not over yet). Relief that I can wake up on a Saturday knowing I have absolutely no personal obligations, no professional obligations. Just a day off. Just a rest. A break.
The pressure has been on all year, but now everyone’s watching. Now is when it matters. Now is crunch time. And I don’t want to fail.
I also don’t want to keep going. To just quit now would be so easy. It’s a small part of every day, that nagging little defeatist voice inside my head. “You’re gonna fail. You know you are. You might as well let today be the day you disappoint everyone.”
That has never gone away. I don’t want it to go away because it’s my motivation to keep going, but I really truly resent the fuck out of it. It’s the part of me, the part of all of us, that makes it so difficult to live the life we want. To do the dishes everyday. To take out the trash. To do the laundry when it needs doing. To exercise. To eat healthy. To spend time with those important to you. To embark on journeys that enrich your life.
To live a life worth living is insanely difficult, and as pressure mounts, quitting and letting yourself be a disappointment to yourself and everyone around you is the easiest thing in the world.
I don’t know how you stop that from happening. I just know that I thought about who I was and who I wanted to be and I said “fuck that guy, he’s not good enough” and I kicked his ass into shape.
I’m still not the guy I want to be. I’m overweight, I’m stubborn and confrontational, I don’t exercise enough, I can’t play the piano or draw that well. I am a writer, a novelist, but I’m not good enough yet. I’m not married, I have no kids.
I may never get to be the guy I want to be, but one thing I know for sure is that I will always chase that dream.
I won’t let the pressure to succeed, the fear of failure, or myself get in the way. They are obstacles to overcome.
I will emerge victorious under pressure, and I will always write the hell on.
Hang in there Jr. Man, After the 1st of year you can reward yourself with a little down time as you very well deserve. I look forward to seeing you next week.