What happens when you mix a long-term writing project with poor time management and a looming deadline upon which you place far too much importance?
The 31 Things I Know Now That I’m 31 becomes the 32 Things I Know Now That I’m 32.
The plan had started so simply — find a month with 31 days and write a post a day on the lessons I’d learned in my years so far. With my July birthday, it should’ve been easy enough to write it up for August. Or October. December. All the months I mucked about in 2015… but another birthday came and went before I could get on top of things.
It was — sadly — another example of moments in my life where I overpromise and underdeliver.
In my ideal world, I’d be blogging every day with months of content queued up so I could spend my days exploring other interests, and living my life like a normal person — like those people I see on Netflix who go to bed at reasonable hours and look so well-rested when they get into the office in the morning. I wouldn’t be plagued by piles of ideas large enough to keep a fire going a few nights, thinking all these half-written posts good enough to start from… but usually just ending up with more half-written posts. I’d never suffer bouts of writer’s block, feeling like I’ve said everything worth saying with a tired and heavy soul unable to keep up. I’d never feel overwhelmed by all this work that feels undone, chasing after resolution that constantly feels out of reach, taunting me with visions of what life could be like if I could just get my act together. I feel like there’s just so much I could do if the cards played out a slightly different way, not making it as hard to get things done in a life trying to pull me in so many directions.
But this is the life I have, and the hand dealt to me to live it. It’s up to me to do what I will with it all, using every last thing I have in me to do the very best I can with what days I have.
Ain’t no one gonna make your life easier for you but you.
In the #BloggerLife, I need to accept that success won’t come overnight. I’ve never been the best at exercising patience, but if I’m looking to build something that’ll last and make its mark on the world around it, I need to build it right, giving it whatever time and effort it needs to grow into something magnificent.
To this end, I often tell people I’m working with a 25-year plan. Oprah was around my age when she started the Oprah Winfrey Show in Chicago, a then-little known radio personality who producers were giving a shot with a regular TV time slot to build her audience. Through the decades that followed, she built that chance into the empire we know today, with millions clinging to her every word as she shares intimate moments with some of the most powerful and influential people known today!
That’s how I see my brand — something eventually growing beyond the bounds of a blog, letting me tell stories that people wouldn’t hear otherwise. Even in the moments where the momentum’s at a standstill, the Gmail inbox devoid of anything interesting and the brain struggling to come up with an original thought, I’m learning more and more that there’re only 24 hours every day, and with the few available to hustle on the side diminishing as I grow older, I need to appreciate what I did accomplish in a day — not lament the things I didn’t.
I’ve been running some numbers lately, and it occurred to me that I don’t have a whole lot of time if I want to get the last 24 entries of the 31 Things series done before my July 15th birthday, so it’s time to get to grind mode and see what I can do!
Truth be told, not everything’s been amazing lately. I’m not the type of blogger who pretends that everything’s peachy all the time — life isn’t perfect, and sometimes you’ll need to overcome obstacles just to keep your sanity.
It used to be so hard to rile me up. I’ve always been about finding solutions, not dwelling on problems, convinced that most of the stuff we fret over simply wasn’t worth the energy. I used to know the few times I’d lost my temper with someone who wasn’t family — the time I’d been wrongly accused of screwing something up at work and tasked to fix it. The time I felt a peer was disrespecting me and undermining my position — one I’d worked so hard to get. Cool, calm and collected were the only ways I wanted to be, and little could get under my skin.
But these days, there’s someone out there consistently bringing my ugly side to light. They don’t respect me or my time, constantly lording their power rather than work with me to get results. They’re a bully to the core, and I’m not the type to take it lightly.
I’d be a fool to think I could solve these problems overnight, though. You can’t change people — you can change how they perceive you, but don’t expect a foul-tempered peer to become your BFF if they don’t want to. I’ve learned, instead, that we need to find coping mechanisms when faced with these struggles, and knowing our individual worth doesn’t always quite cut it.
When I’m so clouded by rage that I can barely see straight, I pick up an old habit of mine and draw. Draw all my feelings, feel it all flow through my pen, and let it express the things that words don’t quite do justice. I don’t always finish, but I assure you — I often feel far better once I’ve gotten a piece out.
So the next time you’re mad, don’t fly off the handle — harness that rage and do something with it! I’ve heard people say they aren’t creative, or complain that they aren’t good enough, but that’s not the point. If you’re creating, you should create for you. When you express yourself, make sure what you’re creating meets your needs. It’s like oxygen masks on an airplane — if you can’t help yourself and make sure you’re getting what you need to live, how can you expect to help anybody else?
They say that you shouldn’t get mad — you should get even; what better revenge is there than showing the people who piss you off just how great you can be?
May your worst moments help bring your best ones to light!
Until the next, mi amigos,
Tell your wife, tell your kids, tell your husbands:
Everyone should have at least one experience that’s truly for themselves — something utterly indelible from their life story that lays the foundation for everything to happen from that point forward… the stuff of epiphanies. Too often, we take our lives for granted — too many of us have grown accustomed to having things simply handed to us, no longer fit to fight for anything we really want from our lives. We simply expect that water comes from the tap when we turn the faucet, or that the Internet will load blazingly fast when we use it. In the “developed world”, we’ve become soft. Lazy. Woefully complacent, quietly accepting mediocrity as our standard, not fighting for something more.