the mind-eating ticking time bomb of failure and inadequacy

by - 8/26/2017

I don't know why I feel like I have to be all or nothing.

I don't know why I feel like not fulfilling all the tasks to perfection = total dramatic failure.

I don't know why I give myself unreasonable difficult goals and then give up entirely when I can't do all of it and smash all of it and be awesome.

I don't know why I'm editing a novel and drafting a draft and messing with side projects and putting out podcast episodes all at once and I still feel like I'm not doing enough, not pushing myself hard enough, not being awesome enough. I don't know why there's a constant ticking clock sitting on my lungs 24/7 seven days a week reminding me that the time I'm losing is time I can't get back! and my life isn't forever! and next time I blink I'm gonna be eighteen with no actual career opportunities! and i'll be twenty-two the next moment and I won't have published a book or directed a movie or acquired my own tv show or gotten verified on twitter!!! !!! and of course, there's always the little whispering voice layered on top of all of it, the hey aimee you're going to slip into mediocrity and do things you enjoy but you won't be the best and you won't be famous and you won't be successful enough to do all the things you want to be able to do and if you're somebody people don't talk about, what's the point of doing the thing? 

So I go to counseling, and I talk about it, at which point you take a deep breath and go over your options and they remind you of the real actual truth, that you have so so so much time left (true) and your value isn't wrapped up in what you do or don't do (very true) and more than anything, your identity is in Christ (the truest) so take it one step at a time and you're gonna be okay, we promise.

And you're able to tell me these truths, Aimee, which means you have a good grasp on them! You're not ruled by your feelings. Your anxieties don't define you. You keep going anyway. 

Yeah, my head knows all the true stuff and knows that it's true but that doesn't help the clock-ticking and it's not making everything better immediately and I don't know why I'm here when I could be writing right now. 

A lot of the time, we like to tell ourselves the truth and that it's the truth, and acknowledge that the truth helps, but we miss out on that whole part where you know what's true but you're just not feelin' it at the moment and you don't know how to make the broken brain chill out for a second and catch up.

I'd really, really like to have some peace of mind right away. I'd like to be able to remind myself of all the true things, trust God, and move on with my life in the way I know is healthy. I don't like this whole in-between dealio. I'd like to skip over this part of the journey, thanks.


It doesn't end, you know? The in-between, the just-short-of-total-recovery, the struggling with what you think and what you feel and how to reconcile the two. I'm pretty sure you don't wake up and find out that now you're well-adjusted and actually filled out everything in your bullet journal and are now capable of going through the entire to-do list all week without missing one thing once. If other people are an indication, people more successful than me, you probably don't hit a point where you write what you can that day without feeling like you could have done more.

I live in black-and-white world. I hate that. More often than not, I sit down on Thursday (or even Wednesday) and decide that my week is shot, I'll try again Wednesday, because if I can't get myself together enough to run a perfectly smooth/planned/organized week I might as well go binge Netflix until it's time to reset.

(Do you know how stupid that is? Do you know how little sense that makes? It's the definition of insanity.)

((and no, I don't know where this is going either.))

(presented to you because the wall of text in this post started to get intimidated and this is what just came on spotify. here, have some tears.)

Sometimes, I get on Twitter or look at blog comments, and somebody's left a specific kind of comment. "Oh my gosh! Aimee! How do you get THESE MANY THINGS DONE? You're incredible." I won't lie to you, that feels good. It's nice to see! please continue leaving these comments. I'll say thank you, because I'm a gracious person who's not going to try to argue with nice words, but also because there's no not-weird way to say "hey, thanks for the nice words, and I know I do get a lot done, but really it's because if I don't do ten things at once and churn out words until I injure my wrist my brain is gonna catch up to me and I'll spend the next few hours crying under my covers in the middle of a mind-eating anxiety attack. Which... still happens even if I do do all the things."

Nobody wants to see that comment.

Even as I write this, I don't know if there's a point to it. I don't know what I'm going to end up saying. Heck, it's probably not all that inspiring, either, you are, anyway, if you've read this far. This is just me. I have my own issues and struggles and brain-eating stuff apparently. I am working through it.

I'm better than I once was.

I'm more self-forgiving than I once was.

Some days, the ticking clock is barely even there, and I can take some deep breaths and do something fun.

But I'm not 100% cured by the truth and coping methods. I don't think I'm ever going to be 100% cured. I would love that, but it's not something that's going to happen. I don't like that fact, not one bit, but the more I keep going, the better I get. Just the other day, I came face to face with the fact that I wasn't going to get everything done that day, and instead of giving up, I finished editing the single chapter I was on and let it go. I wasn't okay with that, but I wasn't panicked, either. And I was semi-productive in the face of what I saw as complete failure.

Little teeny tiny steps in the right direction, even when you get knocked over sometimes. We cannot afford to wait for the day when we have all the strategies in order and plan out our whole day and don't have any unplanned surprise anxiety attacks. I don't have time to wait for that. If I wait for everything to fall into place, if I wait to get out of the in-between place that's kinda just called life, I'm definitely not going to get anything done.

'Scuse me, y'all, I'm gonna go get a Mountain Dew and try to get something done tonight. (Even though I've just wasted an hour writing a blog post I never meant to write. What a failure I am.)

- Aimee

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  1. "More often than not, I sit down on Thursday (or even Wednesday) and decide that my week is shot, I'll try again Wednesday, because if I can't get myself together enough to run a perfectly smooth/planned/organized week I might as well go binge Netflix until it's time to reset."

    I feel you. I literally just wrote an entire post about creative rest ( because that is exactly how I have been feeling, if I don't Achieve My Dreams and Write the Thing that my purpose is somehow not fulfilled and I'm not a Real Writer.

    It's all a lie.

    We were meant for rest, not to go, go, go all of the time. I know it's hard as a creative to step away and take a break, but that's what I've had to do. And focus on my identity in Christ and as a sister, daughter, and friend. Go to the park. Take photos. Walk on the beach.

    Loved this post because I really resonated. Thank you for being honest!

    1. Man, your post is SO GOOD. Our culture makes us feel like we have to push push push and be aggressive and write alllll the things and never stop hustling, so we end up burning out and feeling like failures when really we need to TAKE A BREAK for once. Sigh.

  2. Agggh this is my LIFE right now. And I've had to just put my foot down and say NO to doing nothing since I can't do everything all at once.

    Thank you for the reminder. You're not a failure, and neither am I, and we are not alone. <3

  3. I spent years in that cycle. Setting improbable goals to silence that insane inner stopwatch that tells you you're wasting your life, inevitably falling short, shutting down, and never accomplishing enough. It's easy to understand that you have to move forward gradually, fight your way through the bad days and be patient and realistic with your goals, but it's hard to really do, you know? It's an uphill battle. You have to find a balance between staying healthily rested (mentally and physically) and being productive. It's not a balance that I've found. Ah well, I'm rambling. So sorry. Anyway, keep fighting through it, keep learning. Pray a lot. And I do really admire you for accomplishing so many things (look at where you are, look at where you started)(been drowning myself in musicals lately, apologies). It's astounding.

    1. It's something I'm learning more and more, as difficult as it is. *nodnod*

  4. actually really relatable. Not that I always feel like just stopping in the middle of the week because I didn't "do all the things," but more because I'm a perfectionist who hates it when I can't do everything up to my impossible standards. Thanks for writing this, Aimee. It's a good reminder that we aren't alone in our struggles and we can all relate to some aspect of each other's struggles.

  5. *sympathetic head tilt*
    *pulls you into a big sister type of hug*
    Hang in there, Aimee. This is hard. You're facing it bravely and honestly. You're the hero in your story, and from the inside it's full of fuzzy eyes from lack of sleep, and gnawing dread in your stomach, and empty cans of mountain dew on the floor. Trust God when he says that the story has meaning, even when you can't see it. Stay brave. xx

    1. *allll the hugs* Thank you so much for your lovely and encouraging words!

  6. Yes yes yes. I relate to this post so hard.


  7. i love how you open up so freely aimee, that is def a talent of yours that i admire! love this post and your blog :)

  8. This..this is really really relatable. It's the worst feeling, that ticking in your brain that won't. go. away. no matter how many times you remind yourself of truth and reality. But I'm so proud of you. You have come so far and you ARE GOING to do incredible things. I cannot express how strongly I believe that.


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