It’s autumn here in Canada. The season when the leaves fall and beautiful metaphors are supposed to come cascading out of my fingertips. For days I’ve been stumped as to how to come up with a newsletter topic that ties in the beauty of the season of letting go, yada, yada, yada. I’ve come up with some great ideas that I love. I was in a good mood last week, maybe I could have written about them then. Or maybe next week. But, I just can’t do it this week. This week I am feeling exceptionally negative and quite cantankerous. I can’t honestly and authentically write about something poetic and beautiful right now. At the moment, I am feeling overwhelmed. The type that builds up in the chest, like a water balloon about to explode.
It’s easy to look at someone else’s life from the outside and think they’ve got all their shit together (even if they tell you they don’t). Can’t tell you how many times people have assumed we are all rosy and fabulous. Waking up and knocking out home run after home run after home run. An efficient husband and wife team, who runs like a well-oiled machine. Recently, we asked our Facebook community, “What are you struggling with the most right now in your career?” So in that vein, I thought I would give you an inside perspective on my current struggle. I know it’s not unique, especially for wedding photographers, at this time of year, with an insurmountable amount of work. This is just an honest reflection of my anxious brain at the moment. There’s no sugarcoating. There are no sugary self-help tips on how to get through it. Maybe you can relate to it. Maybe you can’t (the delete button is your friend, in that case). Maybe you could relate to it yesterday, but not today. This is not a cry for help. This is not an ask for pity. It’s simply a peek through the curtains, for fun. Perhaps you’ll take comfort in reading someone else’s struggle.
My struggle is that I am doing too much, but also doing nothing at all. My attention span is that of a…squirrel!! I start off every day with a to-do list and a plan to get things done. And, it feels great at the start of the day. I sit down at my desk, with my cup of tea, rub my hands together in feigned excitement, and open my computer. I smile, take a sip of tea, and imagine I am going to have a hugely productive day of ticking things off one by one. Checkmarks = Productivity. Productivity = Self-worth. So, all in all, I am setting myself up for success, right?
After about 10 minutes on the first task, it starts to get harder. I’m not sure why. It’s not always this laborious. But lately, the struggle is real. The initial momentum wears off quickly. It’s like I start the day riding a bike downhill, but then I have to push up the other side of the valley. And within seconds of starting that climb, I can think of 14,652,819 easier things to do, like checking Facebook or responding to emails. And, so I take a little break. I go into our Facebook community and, boom, 30 minutes flies by. That starts the shame cycle. I bring myself back to my HUGE to-do list feeling like a failure. But that to-do list just isn’t holding my interest. It’s certainly not filling the void I am feeling. The void of dopamine-ladden checkmarks. So, I head on over to Instagram and see if there are any comments I need to respond to. Yup, there’s a few that can make me feel useful for a few minutes. Oh, and I may as well check Facebook one more time before I go back to the to-do list. Oh, and I really should know what’s going on in the world. I’m just going to take a peek at Apple News. At least I am using a real news source, I rationalize to myself. I leave this space feeling like I need to do more for the environment, I need to do more for the people of Ukraine… More… More… Oh, and I should really start looking into using TikTok and Pinterest for our business because Instagram isn’t doing shit anymore.
Okay back on track! Now my to-list has grown to solve existential crises around the world (with no concrete tasks), learning two new social media platforms (with no concrete tasks), and I’ve only achieved three checkmarks. I might even add “Facebook” or “Instagram” to my to-do list, just so I can have the satisfaction of ticking it off. Screw this, I actually need to do something where I use my body and can see physical progress. So I clean the kitchen, hoping this will fill the void. Because the thought of culling 14,578 more photos right now isn’t going to swing it.
This cycle of shame repeats itself for the rest of the week.
So there you have my current struggle. It’s temporary. It’s a season (maybe this email is a metaphor afterall). I hope this grumpy ass email brought you some sense of comfort knowing your to-list can commiserate with mine. None of us are alone on this checkmark-free day.
Want to read more Two Mann, Two Sense? Click here to sign up.