Two weeks ago, my husband sent me this Lifehacker interview with Ira Glass to cheer me up on a Monday. It worked. Not only did it confirm what I've believed for over a decade now (that Ira Glass is awesome), it gave me a new mantra.
While I think there are several interesting points in the article, by far my favorite piece was the last question/answer:
"Is there anything else you'd like to add that might be interesting to readers/fans?
I'd just say to aspiring journalists or writers—who I meet a lot of—do it now. Don't wait for permission to make something that's interesting or amusing to you. Just do it now. Don't wait. Find a story idea, start making it, give yourself a deadline, show it to people who'll give you notes to make it better. Don't wait till you're older, or in some better job than you have now. Don't wait for anything. Don't wait till some magical story idea drops into your lap. That's not where ideas come from. Go looking for an idea and it'll show up. Begin now. Be a f**king soldier about it and be tough."
"Be a f**king soldier about it." Forget the fact that this advice is aimed at those pursuing journalism - that's the mantra we need for SO many things in life.
I particularly loved that quote because it reflected my own attitude so perfectly in the early days of this blog. Back when I opened this little corner of the internet, I was dragging myself day in and day out to a job that I couldn't stand. And it's not just that it had some of the typical trappings of bad jobs - unpredictable hours, questionable management, and a WAY overinflated sense of importance - it was just boring. There were days where I would go hours without having anything to work on. I would say I exerted pretty minimal effort about 95% of the time.
While experiencing all this, I constantly felt like a complete waste of space. The type of stress I encountered was of the deep-seated, gnawing variety - I wondered incessantly where my life was going, if I was going to be stuck in this professional rut forever, if I was just a thoroughly average, boring person.
And then I decided to do something about it.
I committed to writing this blog five days a week, every week. For an entire year, I wrote on Christmas, on vacation, in the middle of the night when I came home from work (or parties) late. I realized that doing that kind of work is what made me feel worthwhile. It gave me a purpose, of sorts.
I didn't start this blog to become a famous blogger. Let's face it, that was never in the cards. But I started writing it to get me somewhere, and that somewhere arrived when I interviewed for and landed my job at shopkick, a job that I love and that teaches me something new every day.
You would think all of these things would make me sad and embarrassed about the current state of this blog. My posting frequency has tapered off to being inconsistent at best. Even when I do post, I frequently forget to share it on Facebook...so hardly anybody sees it.
But honestly, I don't feel bad.
This blog was, other than my marriage, my lifeblood for well over a year. So much work went into these pages. But I've realized that life isn't about being a soldier at one thing all the time. It's about being a soldier at AT LEAST one thing at all times. For awhile, that thing was this blog. These days, that thing is my job, going to the gym regularly, spending more time with friends, and, most importantly, taking time every night to relax and spend time with my husband. All of these things calm me down and make me happy. And I've reached the point where writing this blog can be the happy filler in between those happy activities.
Someday, writing posts every day may make an ascent back up my list of priorities. That's a definite possibility. But for now, if it's okay with you, I'm not going to let this blog be a source of guilt. I'm going to continue to write only when I have something to say. I know that's the best way to keep it as one of the most unexpected sources of joy in my life - the place where I've gotten so much closer to all of you who read what I write here. I cherish that more than anything.
Is there a part of your life that you currently find unsatisfying? If so, I suggest you take the Ira Glass approach - find what you love, and be a f**king soldier about it. You won't regret it.