What is this all for?

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Is this success?

Lately, I haven’t really felt like myself. For a moment I thought it was my depression returning. And maybe it is. I’m not so sure yet. But I do know now that whatever way I’m feeling stems from pressure. Pressure from all directions, all at once.

I think this incessant pressure is causing me to feel stuck. And it is this stuck-ness that is causing me to feel unlike myself. It feels as though I’m not moving forward. And when I’m not moving forward, it often feels as though I’m moving backwards.

In creativity, for example, there is a lot of pressure. There is a constant pressure to be writing. And then there’s the pressure to publish this writing, and for it be received well. There’s a pressure to win awards, be shortlisted, triumph. There’s pressure to constantly out do yourself, pressure to be well known, to be well-read, and to be happy through all of this.

This pressure is self-placed of course, but it is also naturally generated by our culture. Our culture which is preoccupied with being productive above all else. And so, no matter who you are or what you’re doing, there’s this same pressure to produce and be productive. And when you’re not being productive, there’s this conditioned guilty feeling that you’re not doing enough.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about success and happiness. How they are extremely similar. As we grow up we think that once we find happiness we’ll be happy forever after. Fairy tales tell us as much. But that isn’t really true. Happiness is incremental and fleeting. We experience it in pockets. We spend most of our time chasing this feeling, and then when we have it, we rarely cherish it before it’s gone.

Happiness isn’t consistently present in our lives. It can’t be. It shouldn’t be. Its value would diminish if it is was always felt.

Success is the same. We spend most of our time chasing it, and failing, and chasing it. And then we experience it incrementally and in pockets. We get some success here, and then time passes and there might be more success there, and so on. It builds slowly, but I think at the beginning, much like our childhood understanding of happiness, we hope and believe that once we achieve success once, we’ll achieve it forever after. But this isn’t the case.

When I got my first book deal I thought I’d be made. That was it now – success achieved. But this never the case. That was just one small step upon an ever growing ladder. But in my head, before I understood the nature of success and pressure, I thought all it would take was that first book deal.

I suppose what I’m trying to say, through all of these randomly assorted thoughts, is that I’ve been in a rut lately. Creatively, emotionally, personally. I know it’ll be okay again soon because it’s always okay again soon. I’ve gotten through each and every rut I’ve experienced thus far.

I just felt it was important to acknowledge how I’m feeling and why I think I’m feeling that way. Life is hard enough. There’s a lot of pressure, and sometimes we forget to be sound to ourselves when we’re so easily being sound to others.

If you like my writing, I also have a Substack here.

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