The Pressure To Keep Up

We all know that feeling. That we aren’t doing enough, or aren’t doing the right things at the right time.

We feel as if we’re stuck at a certain point while the rest of the world keeps going.

Whether it’s our friends getting engaged, starting a family, a sibling getting a promotion, an associate building their own business rapidly and successfully, we’re constantly surrounded by people who are growing and even more so, surrounded by people indirectly questioning what we’re doing.

I’m finding lately that I need to constantly take a step back. I need to constantly remind myself where I’m at and what I can handle.

It’s like this repeating mantra in my mind: I made the decision to stop work and put my education on hold. I made the decision to move home. I made the decision to focus completely on my health and finding ways to feel better or better manage the pain. I am here because I chose to be here and this is exactly where I need to be.

But, that isn’t enough is it?

I sit here and I’m writing. I should be laying down with an ice pack over my head, but the piece I drafted yesterday is being reviewed by professionals for accuracy and safety purposes. And so I see the numbers on my “stats” page. I see how low they are, and I see the last piece I put out didn’t get any traction. So, I have to write. I have to put out some sort of content or update. This is currently my “job” because it’s much easier to tell people I’m a writer than I’m disabled.  

Feeling pressured to write, is okay. I welcome it. Because I’ve got tons of ideas that spin around at night and want to be put out there. I think this is a good pressure, and I think what I’m doing here is healthy and allows me to feel like I’m truly doing something more than just dying on my couch.

I recently added in a new page – my Gallery – to add some content that was much more related to my life. It felt really amazing to add that and to show off pieces that only a select few had ever seen.

But, that page wasn’t created with that intention. I was thrilled with the response it got, it broke records on this site with how many views and clicks I received and engagement with my other pieces and shared posts got a wonderful response as well. But, it was made because I shared my art on one platform and no one cared. So I made my own platform.

I’m constantly surrounded by a large group of individuals who create non-stop. They make beautiful jewelry, key-chains, resin pieces, paintings, everything you can think of. And they constantly are updating the world with what new thing they’re coming out with. At the beginning of the month I finished up the first two installments of my Charleston Series of watercolors. But it took until this week to even want to touch my supplies again to make something new and start on a commissioned piece.

But these other artists, they work through pain, they work through their chronic illnesses and various conditions. And so this pressure cooker is created where I feel like I’m not enough. I feel like I’m not doing everything in my power to be successful.

Then I get people who don’t like my line of thinking and have no issue saying so. Whether it’s my decision to keep my art as something I do when I want, on the side, as something fun rather than working to monetize it and make a profit, or if it’s my decisions on where I’m comfortable putting my money. People are pretty bold when they think you’re doing things “the wrong way” or a way that is different than there’s. People are offended at the idea that I don’t want to take risks or put a huge chunk of energy into something.

Here’s the thing, I don’t have that energy to begin with. I can think differently and create that energy. I can’t count on having enough good days in a row to decide hey, I’m going to take up a craft or marketing career and invest everything I have in it. Because yesterday, I checked everything off on my list, today I could barely manage to eat a bagel and most likely won’t leave the dark confines of my room.

And then there’s this other pressure that hangs out in the back of my mind. I got a call from an extension program of social security disability that focuses on transition from being disabled back into the workforce or assisting in getting an education or building the funds to start your own business. It’s an incredible program. It’s goal is to provide a path for people to get off of welfare and sustain themselves.

It wasn’t sent out to me insinuating that this was something I needed to do right this minute. It’s simply sharing the options I have with me because they are legally obligated to do so.

I think anyone who knows me, knows that the second I am able to work or start back up with my education I will do so, probably more enthusiastically than I should.

What people who don’t know me seem to not realize, is that I’m currently in the worst of this all. Sure, it can always get more painful – like the Botox preventing me from driving – but essentially, I’m at a place where I need someone else to drive me to my appointments, I need someone else to use their energy to cook meals, I need someone else to pick up my medications and grocery shop.

You see, even if I had enough money coming in to be in my own place, my health isn’t at the place where I can take care of myself completely on my own.

Yes, I can get my groceries delivered and my prescriptions sent to me. Yes I can uber to my appointments. I can find enough energy to make a meal in the crock pot a few times a week. But my energy doesn’t extend to always having “healthy” options, because how many times would I end up settling for a piece of toast or a plateful of rice? How many times will I have to take an uber when I’ve been drugged up and can’t necessarily communicate?

Some of that doesn’t seem very safe, and it certainly doesn’t seem like a great option considering my health is my top priority.

I’m not looking for financial gain right at this point in time. I’m actually quite comfy with my current financial situation, and I think that bothers a lot more people than it should.

I’m not looking to grow a customer base for my watercolor paintings, nor do I care if people like how they look. And just because I took on one commission, doesn’t mean I’ll ever take on another.

I’m looking for connection. Support. Understanding. Other writers.

Because at the end of the day, yes I can get dressed up to run to CVS because I ran out of nail polish, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy or that the human version of me will emerge again for another month. I sat in the turn lane by Starbucks terrified that I was going to have to call my mom to come get me because I could feel the pain sinking in. I stood in Starbucks waiting for my drink and could feel my legs giving out. All I wanted was to call a friend and enjoy a cup of coffee, since I was out and looked presentable, but I rushed home because that simply isn’t something I can do.

So please, stop pressuring people to do what you are doing. Stop being angry with people because they aren’t at the same place you are. Just because I can put up a front on social platforms that shows a very different version of me, doesn’t mean a thing.

We’re all susceptible to the idea that we need to be keeping up or ahead, but we don’t. I don’t. I spent 20 years being ahead and still pushing to be better, and now that I’m “behind” I feel the pressure, but I want to make one thing clear: I am still ahead. The insights I’ve acquired, my personal growth, my mental growth, it’s all years ahead of where anyone would expect it to be. And you will not shame me because you feel inept.


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