Something strange is happening to me.
Normally, I am stressed 92 percent of the time. It’s who I am: there is no way to avoid it. The only time I relax is when I’m asleep. And I have a hate-hate relationship with sleep.
It is a Wednesday as I am writing this. And other than the positive stress that comes with ever-so-slightly rushing to meet a self-scheduled deadline (oh, I’m also a chronic procrastinator), all week, I have not felt stressed.
Tired, sure. But not stressed. Not even a little bit.
I don’t feel stressed.
I DON’T FEEL STRESSED.
EXCUSE ME. HELP. ERROR. HELLO?! I DON’T THINK THIS IS NORMAL.
But that’s just it. Maybe it IS.
I’ve spent so much of my life feeling stressed that I’ve basically forgotten what it’s like not to be. I’m so used to having to work so hard without feeling satisfied with the result that this feeling – working, writing all the time, and actually enjoying it – is completely new to me.
I’m not stressed … because I’m happy. I’m doing it. I’m writing for fun AND as a job and I LIKE IT.
This is the first time anything like this has ever happened to me.
Enjoy working? Psh. Who does that?
Listen. I’m not telling you all this to rub anything in your face. My life is anything but perfect. I stay up too late (writing blog posts … don’t even ask what time it is right now) and then ultra-snooze my alarm. I take way too many coffee breaks before noon. Sometimes I write in passive voice and don’t fix it. I have a hard time focusing on Fridays. I’m bad at prioritizing.
But do you know why none of that bothers me anymore? Because somehow, I made it work anyway. I figured out how to get a lot of work done without constantly burning myself out. I learned how to do hard stuff, like interviewing people and making myself vulnerable on the internet and failing, despite being 76 percent anxiety and 24 percent I don’t even know what else. I taught myself how to work long hours during the week so I could (sort of) spend weekends relaxing and recharging.
It took me years to figure all this out. And I’m still figuring it out. But I stopped letting excuses stop me from Making Things Happen as a writer. I acknowledged the excuses. I considered letting them win, just one more time. And then I just shoved them out the window and kept on writing anyway. Despite stress. And being tired. And almost never thinking anything I had to say was worth the effort.
This profession is stressful. I know. I just happen to have found a tiny pocket of opportunity in some random corner that lets me do what I love without completely destroying my sanity.
I think that kind of space exists for everyone. It’s just a matter of finding and embracing it. You can, and will, find it. You just have to keep working, and taking care of yourself, and believing it’s possible. Because the work you’re meant to do – the kind that leaves you tired, but not burned out because of stress – you won’t find that on purpose. It will pop up accidentally, unexpectedly, when you’re not looking for it.
And all the work you’ve done up until that point … it will pay off. Right then. Right there.
Honestly, if it can happen to someone like me – who really doesn’t deserve it – it can definitely happen to you.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.