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Keeping up with the Joneses

Are you trying to with Keep up with the Joneses? But first, let me clarify… when we hear that statement, most people think of monetary items, but I’m talking about the social media presence. I watched so many mutuals kick a$$ and post daily, sometimes multiple times and on different platforms too. From the outside looking in, they were rocking. And I was the hamster in the wheel trying to keep up. Running and running and running but going no where. 

Story Time…

I’ll admit, I was killing myself trying to keep up. I was posting and writing and trying to continue learning about everything in the indie book industry and finally, the burn out came. The characters stopped talking, the posting slowed down, the mindless scrolling happened and jealousy sank in. I think this began in March. During March I had 13 posts and in April I had 17 posts. But if I’m honest, it was only 14 “planned”. The last 3 posts in late April were easy because the content was “given” to me. 1.) I ALWAYS post about Fiesta SA. The largest city wide party behind Mardi Gras. 2.) A spontaneous conversation with Jessie from discover.latinx.literature and Gabino Iglesias on a TT Live one Saturday morning 3.) A friend sent me a picture of my book she found in a coffee shop/book store in Minneapolis. I didn’t plan anything for these posts, life happened and I shared. 

But, I’m stubborn and even though I knew I was feeling overwhelmed, I kept going. I was trying to post in March and April. I was forcing myself to write, even if the words were crap. I told myself, I can push through. I always do. For my Gen Xers, this may sound familiar. But here’s the thing, I was feeling GUILTY the whole time. I would feel guilty and berate myself for not posting daily, for not writing, for “slacking off”. 

And on top of my author career, I also have my day job that pays the bills and my only child was a senior. This year, the day job (school counselor) took a toll on me and my mental health. The behaviors of the kids this year was one like I have never experienced. We had such extreme behavior, think torn up classrooms, screaming, running out of classrooms, etc…, that I would get home and wouldn’t even have the energy for anything else. There was a day that was so incredibly exhausting that I came in the next morning and told my principal and AP that I couldn’t work with any of the extreme behaviors that day because I feared I would not have the patience. Not even 30 minutes into the school day and another issue popped up. They brought the kid into my office and were about to leave him. My heart began racing and I was on the verge of tears, so told them if they intended on leaving him, I would be leaving campus and taking a personal day. This was the entire school year, extreme behavior after extreme behavior.  

And then I was also on all kinds of high emotions because my only child was a senior. The excitement, fear, and sadness all rolled into one was intense. All the "lasts" of her high school and All-Star cheerleading days. I was constantly feeling like I was riding a roller coaster of emotions. For all my mamas out there, cherish the time. Time flies.

I don’t know what finally prompted me to one day “make it official” and take a break. The fear of “taking a break” and coming back to no one welcoming me back was consuming. I was frozen, scared of being forgotten but not able or wanting to continue posting. But the time came- I guess I was finally tired of feeling guilty and made an “Out of Office” graphic. 

After a couple of days of posting “out of office” the pressure to keep up and guilt started to wane. I wasn’t racking my brain for content or berating myself for not feeling creative. I stopped opening my laptop and forcing words. I read. I mindlessly scrolled. I’m binging Criminal Minds. A weight, that had been crushing, lifted. I wasn’t worried about page reads or sales. I just was. I enjoyed the evenings curling up with my daughter in bed watching TV. 

So many other things are tied to my author career and this “break”. The mom-guilt. The anxiety attacks. Starting meds. Craving to “be back”. Nerves to re-entering to no one. I’ll be going in-depth about these things too. It’s all too much for one story time. 

Will I be posting daily? Not sure. I’m about to start summer break. I’m getting ready to send my only child to a neighboring state to attend college. I’m so excited to spend time with fellow authors in the fall. I want to hear Damian & Cici' fictional voices in my head again. Most likely, I will post when I can through this month. I'll re-organize myself. Re-set my goals. Center myself. 

All this to say, if you need the break, take it. It may be scary at first, but your mind and body will thank you. And I wonder, if some mutuals have also been feeling this way? In my "time away", I've noticed some of the authors I love and follow have been really quiet. Not posting and/or engaging. Are they are also taking the much needed time for themselves?


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