I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side. -Psalm 3:5
Whether or not to be honest and vulnerable with your readers; that is the decision to be made by every person who puts out content for the general public. So far I have kept things here pretty light and pain-free. But I'm making the decision today to tell it how it is, because I am about to share with you a very true, very painful, and very fresh story.
It's the story of why I've been silent.
Yesterday afternoon I was sitting on a couch in Portland Brew with my brother, Kelly. We are both highly involved in the creative endeavors of the other, so he asked me if I would do some design work for his music project. In the past, I've jumped at the opportunity to work with him on this very project simply because I believe in it, but this time I reacted differently. In that moment, all I could feel was fear. My chest tightened. My face dropped. I fumbled with my words and tried to explain that I simply did not have the time, resources, or mental energy to do the quality work that he needed. I did not understand why that was my response, and neither did Kelly. I think it scared both of us that I reacted (read: hyperventilated) the way I did.
I have mentioned before that Kelly is one of those people that does not let me just float around, but actually requires me to think critically, and that is exactly what we did. He wouldn't just take the simple 'no', so we got up and started walking. As we walked, we talked through what I have been up to lately and why I felt so uneasy about the idea of a design project. Then Kelly said something that struck me; something that I did not want to hear, but which ultimately made it all so clear:
"It sounds like the beginnings of burnout."
I don't want to burnout;
I love photography,
my side job,
my other side job,
Why can't I just manage it all? Then I remembered this: Being able to do everything is not what is required or asked of me. I guess I'd have to have perfect energy, be able to sustain myself, and never tire in order to do it all. Newsflash: I am not perfect. I run out of energy, I do not sustain myself. I get tired (and I get tired very easily). I want to reject those facts and say, 'I am strong!' and be the girl who can work forever and be endlessly on top of things because I love the work and it will never wear me out. That's just not true. I do love the work, but it still wears me out. I am not above burnout.
April 12th was the last time I shared a photo to Instagram and Facebook. February 10th was the last time I posted a journal entry here. I justified those things by telling myself that web presence is not my top priority - the more important thing is that I am actually taking photos and doing the real work. While I think it is still true, that the priority is actually the photography, I also see now that I was avoiding social media and this journal because I was scared of doing it wrong. I have consumed so much information on the 'right way' to market yourself online that it has paralyzed me. All of those webinars and articles are good information, but I have been found guilty of obsessing over writing the perfect captions and choosing the perfect images. That meant hours of work each week just to save face online, and when I started getting more work I didn't have those hours to devote to picking photos and captioning. So, instead of simplifying, I avoided. Don't we all know that avoidance is usually unhealthy? Haven't I been the one to remind my friends that it's better to 'just do it' and not worry so much about 'it' being right or perfect? Done is better than perfect! How do I forget these things so easily?
I am still processing what this means for how I move forward, but I feel cleansed. This disease that has been spreading in the dark has been brought to light, and now I can see where it grows from. If you are reading this and you are a friend, please remind me of these things often; to give myself a break because I am probably exhausted. I cannot promise a full posting schedule, but I bet you will hear from me a little more in the near future, and my message will not be perfect. My hope is that it will be something telling of where I am and what I am up to.
(Originally written May 4th, 2017)