An Ode to Being Bummed Out
Monday was a very bad day for me. This had very little to do with the events of the day and much to do with my attitude. I was in that kind of nasty, fragile mood that comes with being tired and pissed off and unable to handle even the slightest curveball. I’m talking shit like being out of almond milk would have set me off. It’s kind of like being a teenager again, but with more bills and maybe one less pimple.
And hey! It turns out it was exactly the kind of day I needed.
I could feel it coming the night before. You just know when that “don’t even try me” shit is coming. You feel it in your bones or stuck in your molars or underneath your nails. My insomnia hit me hard, so I spent the night before watching My Cousin Vinny and hoping I’d get tired. Instead of getting tired, I thought about my career and how much money I had and when everybody I loved was going to die. I am used to these kinds of thoughts, but that doesn’t make me any less frustrated. It was a few days after the New Year after all, and I was feeling good and inspired, but then my brain gives me a mighty fuck you and decided to twist all that resolve into failures because I hadn’t accomplished them yet. Wonderful! In the words of Mona Lisa Vito, Oh my god, what a fucking nightmare.
The next day, I woke up late and crabby, on the coldest day I'd seen in months. I don’t want the polar bears to die, but I also hate waking up in a cold house with cold floors! Fuck me, right? And like the self-fulfilling prophecy it definitely was, I dropped the ball with wild abandon. I got a meeting I really wanted to have pushed back. I had writer’s block, which usually costs me money because writer's unblock is my job. I spent the better part of the day listening to hold music because my health insurance was cancelled instead of being renewed for 2017. And I needed to go pick up my damn birth control, and if I didn’t I was going to start spotting everywhere, which was very blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever. And sure, health insurance is a mess but I should be grateful for it because my freelance writing ass is lucky to have the option. And I know that very same ass of mine is going to have to crawl around in a bubble suit when Paul Ryan takes my health insurance out of my home-manicured paws and replaces it with whatever he thinks will be best. Probably some gummy vitamins and a pillow stitched with some anti-vax quote Jenny McCarthy pooed out during a Candies photoshoot. But I wasn’t grateful on Monday. I wanted to find the person who made the hold music for Healthfirst and sing-screech at them with my crackly alto voice until they started to sob. I wanted help. I wanted pity. I absolutely didn’t get any of it.
I think that being a writer of any capacity, especially on the Internet, eventually comes with a weird complex that you are inspiring. I used to dole out advice that I never took myself, because I had the foresight to see it and the lack of insight to follow it. And I think that false inspiration is dishonest and kind of holier-than-thou and I’m a little over it. So I’m trying to do that less and be honest more, and here’s the honest truth:
Life can feel like a Jenga game stacked against you. And a lot of the time, it’s your real circumstances and not your attitude. But sometimes, it’s your attitude. And yesterday, I had a shitty attitude. A completely shitty, woe-is-me attitude that was entirely uninspiring. And it felt great.
I used to wallow when I was younger, and I used to wallow over everything that happened to me. God forbid some dude didn’t call me, and it’d be “I’ll never find anyone who likes me!” God forbid I got disciplined at work, and it was, “ I have the worst job in the world and it’s never fair!” When my grandmother was sick, it was about how it impacted me. When I was sick and had to have back surgery, I imagined I was the only person in the world who had ever gone through it. This kind of self-pity tends to be luxurious. It allows you to focus on things and refuse to move on, sitting in it like a tub. And I grew to absolutely, 100% hate that kind of attitude. I don’t have real regrets, but I do wish I had climbed over my nasty little Farrah from Teen Mom attitude real quick and stopped thinking that I had to react to the world like everything was specifically out to get me.
And I learned not to do it as much. And I probably told people in blog posts how it’s great to sit in things for a second and THEN MOVE ON, as if that was easy, like a light switch you could turn off. But in actuality, I fight against this instinct all the time.
Why? Fuck. Because wallowing is fun. And it feels special to think the world is out to get only you. And it feels nice to just focus on yourself.
On Monday, I did the bare minimum of what was required of me. I took a long walk and listened to loud music. I cried a little. I felt bad for myself, and damn it, I wanted to.
Right now, I’m not 100% happy with my career or my financial situation. I want my books to sell more. I want people to read me more. I want to be busier. Every day, I pressure myself to work towards that goal, because how else will I reach it? Every night, I dog myself for not pushing harder. For not applying to two more jobs. For not pitching to a few more places. For not working ten more minutes on my book proposal. But it doesn’t always help. It’s tiring to constantly beat yourself up for not accomplishing more, whatever you are trying to accomplish. And that’s why I think I broke down on Monday. I couldn’t take it anymore. I just wanted to sit in it, even though if it wouldn’t really make me a better person or a better writer or more successful in any way.
To take a day off from being strong, to take a day off from pushing yourself and trying to move forward is needed at most and fine at worst. It’s okay to do it. It’s okay to give up for a second. It’s okay to say, “I don’t want to,” if your body needs it. And so I did. I whined and cried and called my mom and texted my boyfriend and it was fine. It wasn’t great. But the world didn’t stop. The world didn’t stop even though I failed at a bunch of things: I had a beer even though I want to stop drinking on weekdays. I ate mozzarella cheese even though I am cutting it out of my diet. I didn’t write. And it’s funny, because sometimes my own life feels like a tug-of-war between two differing ideals. You either treat yoself for every little, tiny stupid accomplishment, or you grind until complete and utter exhaustion. This was neither. It didn’t feel like a treat, because I felt a little guilty about it. And I certainly wasn’t rising and grinding. But a lesson was practically learned: nothing stopped. I didn’t get completely off track. I didn’t succeed, but I didn’t really fail, either. It’s a reminder to me: you don’t always have to move. And when you choose to stop, it doesn’t always mean you are moving backwards.
The next day, I woke up fine. Still a little off, but with a little more resolve and a little less crash and burn. I got more stuff done. I, as always, kept going. But who knew? Sometimes it just feels nice to get put on hold.