It's time to change the way I operate. I refuse to fetishize busyness anymore. My goal is no longer to work a million hours doing "something I love." It's to work as few hours as possible while still being able to pay my bills and buy myself something every so often. I don't want to send emails at 2am. I don't want people to look at me and say "Wow! You do SO MUCH!" I'm over it. I want to sit in my backyard drinking beer and watching my pets chase bugs. I want to go for long walks/jogs/runs that last for hours and sit on the floor stretching for an I-don't-care-how-long amount of time when I get home. I want to stare into space for 20 minutes thinking about a project that I may or may not actually decide to begin.
I DEFINITELY don't want to multi-task any longer. I don't want to have 15 projects in flight. I don't want to agree to begin working on something until the previous thing is finished because creative work takes time and, guess what, I DON'T KNOW HOW LONG it's going to take. Ok? Fuck estimation. Creative work is not a predictable, metronomic process. In time, perhaps I'll get better at approximating certain tasks but I'm tired of being forced to do it in the interest of stacking projects that all end up taking longer than I thought they would.
I hate the fact that this thought process makes me feel like a failure or a princess or a lazy person. "Why can't I juggle 42 projects without feeling like death?? Other people do it all the time." Well, guess what? I think "other people" are miserable too. I have more privilege than most these days and I still struggle with the balance of hours worked, money earned, insurance premiums owed, and the inability to afford a house in my city of employment. Anyone with less opportunity doesn't stand a chance! Avocado toast is not the problem, friends. So this lifestyle isn't even worth it.
So I'm over it. I don't subscribe to this bullshit anymore. While I still have some money saved, I'm going to intentionally hit the brakes. My mental health is more important than extending my runway right now. I will very possibly need or want a more traditional job in the fall or winter but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. For now, I need to overcome some really old, stale burnout. So here are my temporary vows (I'm not putting an end date on this yet):
- I will only devote 4 hours each day to projects "for money."
- I will work on projects one at a time. At most, I will work on two: one "for money" and one personal. MAYBE.
- I will not work on nights or weekends.
- I will do personal projects or Crooked & Beautiful-specific projects during the other hours of the day ONLY if I feel like it.
- I will prioritize my mental health. If I am feeling anxious or overwhelmed, I will take the day off, or the week, or honestly a full month if I can.
Self-employment is overflowing with financial instability, tax confusion, and anxiety. If you (the royal you; really talking to myself here) choose this path, you better have a damn good reason to. You better believe in what you're doing enough to endure these challenges. Otherwise, you should question why you're even doing it. This is where I am. I feel kind of directionless. I feel like I'm playing whack a mole. I feel like life was a lot easier when I got a paycheck and employer-provided health insurance. So I'm taking this "break." My hope is that by introducing some down time, I'll be able to (1) recover from being so overwhelmed for so long and (2) reacquaint myself with my purpose as an artist. I just want a plan that I believe in. I honestly don't even care what it is or what the journey looks like. I just want some clarity.