A week ago I fell into a slump. I stopped trying to work out every day (as I’ve done for the past three weeks) and I stopped trying to eat anything but french fries and tuna fish. Recently, I wrote an article about becoming an island, which is exactly what I elected to do. I stopped writing for a while, I stopped trying to extract memories and attempt to make sense of them. Anyone who has ever written creative non-fiction or personal essays knows understands how it can be emotionally exhausting constantly looking inward for clarity. It is enough to drive you down into a dark pit of depression because when you’re constantly self-analyzing you begin to see even the parts of yourself you haven’t learned to love yet.
I allowed myself the break I needed and binge watched Teen Wolf and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and gorged myself with pretzels. For a few days, it was glorious. I felt happy yet extremely uneasy. I knew I needed the break but I couldn’t shake the feeling that why I was taking the week off, I was falling behind in my goals. The other four days of my break were spend in deep thought on how I could find the balance between accomplishing the career goals I have set for myself, and how to keep a healthy distance from my work so it does not threaten to unhinge me.
I decided that it doesn’t matter how quickly I move forward just as long as I’m moving at all. This ideology released me of the constant pressure to produce as much work as my peers, or even write every single day. It does mean, however, that I must have my end goal in mind and work steadily on achieving it. I’m not doing this in order to compete with others, but I’m doing it to remind myself I alone can be the deciding factor for how my life will go. I am a firm believer that is unhealthy to constantly compare yourself to others. It breeds self-doubt and fear that can cause you to stop moving forward. You constantly need to be pushing yourself because there are few points in life from here on out where you will be able to stop and take rests in your career and ambitions.
I’m 21 and young and constantly need to remind myself that I am nowhere close to where close to the big leagues yet. But I am always reminded that there is a twenty-year-old somewhere out there right now who is writing with a fresher perspective. There may always be a newer, more captivating voice for those to relate to. It is important to continually challenge and push yourself to new, uncomfortable places because that is what sparks growth. There is a fine line between being confident in your craft, and being complacent in it. The second you think you have secured a spot for yourself in the field you want, there will always be dozens shortly behind you vying for the crown. It is important to always be pushing yourself forward like there is a target strapped to your back. Metaphorically there will be, and people will be fighting hard for what you have.