I always have a lot of projects going on and there's a pattern: Nearly every time I talk to someone close to me about all the stuff I do, they reply . . .
"You know, you don't HAVE TO do all that."
I don't know how to respond to that. Do they believe I think I "have to"?
I do behave like a person with an overclocked sense of drive or maybe just a really tight deadline. But there's this pervasive belief that being productive and creative all the time is miserable--that if you work a lot instead of doing nothing, you must be hating it most of the time, or doing it out of obligation.
I won't lie, of course--YES, sometimes I unexpectedly hit the bottom of my energy well and realize I've burned myself out. YES, sometimes I exhaust myself and there is no one to blame but me. YES, sometimes I'm unrealistic about what I should expect from myself and I'm too disappointed in myself when I'm not productive. It's not necessarily always the healthiest way to live your life. I'm not confused about that.
But I actually am happy.
It makes me very happy to do all this stuff.
Who doesn't "overdo" things sometimes? It doesn't mean their lifestyle is in general at fault, or that the actual things they're doing are, by nature, destructive. Sometimes you get too much sun, or have sore muscles from too much exercise, or oversleep because you had a tough week at work. Me? Sometimes I do too much creative work.
I get burned out. I have to pull back and do less.
Sometimes if I find myself wanting to keep pushing when it would probably be bad for me, one of the things I've had to learn as a mature person is how to relax, and how to realize when it's time to relax.
I don't do it super well, and I don't default to it, but I can do it when I have to, much like a person who needs to eat their vegetables just rolls their eyes and gets it over with.
I don't like relaxing. It isn't to me what it seems to be to lots of other people. I don't believe my creative work ethic makes me a better person. I don't think myself superior because I am the way I am. I'm not judging other people for being really good at relaxing. But for me, relaxing can be stressful. As long as I limit how much I do it, I can enjoy it while I'm doing it, taking some time to chill at my patio table in the sun or read a book without thinking too much about how I'm gonna review it or spend some time goofing around looking at silly things on the Internet or taking trivia quizzes. I can do it, and I can quickly get back in the saddle afterwards.
I'm not suffering, guys. I'm the opposite of a tortured artist. I'm having a lot of fun.
Don't worry about me.