I’m in fear.
I’m supposed to be happy, flying, resting on a cloud of gumdrops and jelly beans.
I have a GREAT job, the job I most wanted when I was on the job market.
For the first time in my life, I can go to the grocery store without my calculator.
I am in the midst of writing something I really care about. (This blog post of course I care about, but I mean my professional writing). I don’t ever again have to write about anything I don’t care about.
I have two excellent opportunities to get this piece published in two different forms and in front of key people in my field. I know how important it is for me to write this first year in the academy. But the deadlines for these two pieces are very tight.
So today I went all in for the first time since moving to LA — I bought a desk and a chair and a printer for home. For ten hours it’s been me and my computer and my freshly printed pages. I must have gotten hungry, but I didn’t eat. I remember feeling tired, but I didn’t sleep.
New projects are exciting and exhilarating. Waiting for expression are all those thoughts and ideas. In my mind’s eye I can see and feel the paper writing itself. Today, I felt it was my job to get it all done, get it all done today.
For some, that type of intensity might be okay. Maybe the most successful and productive people in the academy work that way. It very well might be okay for someone without my history. But it’s not okay for me.
I know what triggers hypomania for me. When I get stuck on one thing, my mind moves faster than my fingertips. I do what I did today — I stop eating. I stop sleeping. I write one sentence over and over again . . . . the proverbial perfect becomes the enemy of the proverbial good. When I realize I’m moving but not going anywhere, I crash. And then instead of doing too much, I do nothing. I don’t even get out of the bed.
Does not help that guilt on two (or six) feet are chattering in my ears, bursting through the bedroom door ever so often. I’m hearing… mom, mommy, mama . . . “you never go bike riding with us…” (we just got the bikes a few days ago) and “all you do is work…” (actually not for like the last month) and “I’ve hardly seen you all day…” (that’s because you’ve been in your room watching YouTube with your headphones on, but I’m the one who is ignoring everyone?)…
My mind is talking too . . . “if you don’t get it out right now, you’ll lose it” . . . “you know you have a lot of prove, right?” . . . “don’t make these people regret hiring you” . . . “you’re black and a woman and a mom and you have to work harder and longer” and my mind is so much quicker than my kids and I can’t think of any good comebacks.
I’m being tested. I’ve been here before. Every other time I’ve been here — finishing my dissertation, writing my job talk paper — I’ve engaged in unhealthy behavior and habits. I did work all day. I did forget to eat. I did not exercise. And I let those kids guilt me about not spending enough time with them.
I want to say “not this time.” I want to be just strong enough to know that the idea that’s been there for months won’t disappear overnight. I want to be strong enough to know that I do have more to prove, but I’ve been proving myself my entire life. I want to be strong enough to know that I didn’t get this job by the skin of my teeth. I want to be strong enough to know that kids believe the world revolves around them…and it really truly does not.
I don’t know if I’m that strong yet. I do not know. But instead of working on that paper, I’m writing here. Instead of working, I’m about to paint my toes. Instead of working I’m going to take a long shower and watch Law and Order and eat ice cream.
And right now, at this moment, perhaps as they felt my energy calm down, as I write this, my three amigos are quietly sitting at the base of my bed, happy to be in my orbit, watching Beat Shazam. And I’ve come in second place as I played on my phone.
As it should be.