About seven and a half years ago I was in a serious post-college rut: working multiple minimum wage jobs to pay half the rent on an apartment with an awful roommate, depressed about dating said roommate, hardly writing, aware that I needed to go back to school but absolutely lacking the motivation or self-esteem to do it, aware that I desperately needed a better job but only able to apply to things accessible by walking/public transportation–and also, lamentably lacking in cats!
And then! A whirlwind! Dropped the guy! Got better roommates (praise be to sisterhood)! Learned how to drive (praise be to friends with cars)! Got writing again! Applied to graduate school! Got the childhood kitty back! I even cut my hair short, which hadn’t been a problem, but if you’re doing the NEW YOU whirlwind you might as well commit!
Most importantly, I went through a transformation in the way I thought about my needs and goals. My emotional needs were real needs, and nobody was going to convince me they didn’t matter. My career goals were important and worth pursuing, and it wasn’t worth keeping anybody in my life who didn’t support that.
In other words: it was time to live life samtastically!
Living life samtastically means doing things whole-heartedly and without embarrassment. Go overboard! Take that new hobby way too far! Attack that school/job application because you are the best and you’ll do your best! Love your friends and let them know it! Love your partner and let them know it! If they don’t deserve it, jump ship and don’t look back! Just do it with commitment. Make a decision and squash the little voice obsessing over the million branching paths your every move could send you down. You’ll never know what might have been, so let it gooo.
It doesn’t mean you’ll never be depressed or overwhelmed again. It doesn’t mean you’ll even necessarily get what you want (if what you want involves other people, then it also has to be what they want!). It gives you something to return to when you manage to fight off that funk. It means banishing the doubt that tugs you back half a step and sets you up for failure by convincing you to only halfway-try.
When big life-changing events are coming up, I spend miserable months hemming and hawing between my options, because what if I pick the wrong one? Jobs, school, family, writing life, you name it, I’m worried.
Well! Enough of that! When I get into a real tangle (and that tangle conveniently results in me not doing a damn thing at all), that’s when it’s time to metaphorically slap myself across the face a few times and yell, “KNOCK IT OFF! DO IT SAMTASTICALLY! It doesn’t matter what you pick, just pick it and then own it.”
Life is absolutely hectic but I’m doing the things that are important to me. Every now and then I melt down from over-scheduling myself, and then I climb back up and re-calibrate. The important part is the getting up again. The important part is loving things enthusiastically and making the time.
If you aren’t using way too many exclamation marks, you aren’t doing it samtastically.
If you find yourself apologizing for getting overexcited about a dorky new hobby, you aren’t doing it samtastically.
If you decide to give up the first time it all goes to crap, you aren’t doing it samtastically.
That’s about all there is to it.
Caveat! I fully acknowledge that I am in good health, financially stable (finally), and have a loving support network. It’s a hell of a lot easier to make time for things you love when you aren’t juggling multiple jobs and health issues. HOWEVER. It’s not impossible. It was while I was juggling full-time work, graduate school, and semi-monthly stress meltdowns that I really embraced the chaos and tried turning it into enthusiasm instead. It doesn’t always work. I still melt down. But I ride it out now, knowing I just need a breather before I swing back up again.
If you’re in the rut right now, it’s hard to see a way out of it. Reach out for help, especially if it isn’t just a funk and you suspect it might be something chronic! Find that little thing that makes you happy and spare a few minutes for it here and there, even if it’s checking out new books from the library or fangirling over your favorite show. If you’re inclined to make things, then for god’s sake make things. Learn how to set goals without lashing yourself to impossible standards (I’m still working on this one).
In short: be samtastic!
And, before you go, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I wrote this entire post as a pep talk for myself, because life is about to go sideways again and I’ve been fretting for months. Slap! Slap! ROLL WITH IT, SAM! See? I still need the occasional reminder. It’s okay.