Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Applying the Breaks

I learned something valuable this weekend. Mainly, that sometimes it's okay to say "no" to something. I've always been really, really bad at turning down the opportunity to be useful (or make extra money, as in this case). But when you're in over your head, you have to step back and say "no" once in a while.

This has been a problem since high school, when I was simultaneously editor-in-chief of the newspaper and president of the drama club... and in all the shows, while also producing them.... and a writer on staff, plus a layout designer. Add frequent babysitting jobs (which I never passed up - of course), my full course load, and applying to college - I was a mess. But I loved every minute of it.

Things didn't change when I went to college. Drama, newspaper, drama, co-founding a magazine, work study job, more drama... producing/acting/costume designing/writing plays....Oh, and I also took classes. I frequently ended up sick, probably because I never let me body rest. Again, loved it. I didn't know how else to live my life. I had to be busy.

But what was I afraid of?

In the years since college, I've learned the value of a good "day off." In fact, I think I got so burnt out by 8 years of cumulative "busy" that I needed a break. I laid low on the drama front, gave myself some space. I focused on working, took extra hours at my retail jobs on the weekends, then left my nights free. I started writing again, when I finally found a job where I could relax a bit.

My shoulders felt lighter. My world was a little easier to digest.

So I was writing... and then I started to fall back into my old patterns. I was rabbid for new writing jobs, signing up left and right, searching Craigslist, scanning Freelance message boards... anywhere there was content that needed writing, I wanted to write it. I started going back to school too. And poof! There went my free-time.

But this weekend, I was proud of myself. I took a minute to think about what was important. Did my short-term goals match my long-term? Was I headed in the right direction? If not, what did I need to do to get there? And I let some of the deadlines go, relaxed my grip a bit, said "no" to a few new projects.

It felt really good.

So then I spent the weekend away from the computer. I read a couple of romance novels, spent some time with my family. It feels good not to be overloaded again.

Maybe I can spare some time for that book I'm writing, one of these days.

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