Skip to content

The rough patch

Last updated on January 20, 2023

I am an orderly, organized person. I work ahead of deadlines — sometimes weeks in advance — so I can have the luxury of setting the project aside for a day or two to review it later with a clear head. You would be amazed at how much I catch that way; redundancies, awkward phrasing and other minor stuff comes to the surface when my brain has cleared 24 or 48 hours later.

Since late April, that’s been impossible. I hit my usual rough patch in May, when everything just seems to go slower than usual, but everything was looking up by Memorial Day. And then, almost without warning, stuff started to slide out of control. One client missed a deadline; hey, it happens, and it’s not a big deal. But then another blew their deadline. A third went AWOL for two weeks, only to re-emerge at the worst possible time: the same moment as the other two.

Suddenly I had three deadlines stacked upon each other in the same week through no fault of my own, and in spite of my careful planning. I was working long days, nights and weekends and everything just felt flat. My words just didn’t have their usual zing. I questioned why I was doing what I do, and whether this was really the right career path for me. It was what my friend calls her “Maybe I’ll Become a Barista” phase, the time where making lattes sounds like a great idea because you can’t bring your work home with you at night.

I felt completely unmoored.

And then, one day, I woke up with a song stuck in my head. I couldn’t have told you who sang it, but I kept hearing the refrain: “How am I gonna be an optimist about this?” (They were the only words of the song that I could remember, having heard it playing at the school fun run.) After a day or two of this song on endless repeat in my brain and nearly driving me mad, I realized that maybe there was something to it. I could dwell on the stress and frustration and let it consume me, or I could try to find the bright side. 

And so, I went in search of the bright side. I took a couple of days off and rode my bike in the fog along the coast; foggy bike rides are good for thinking.

I read three novels in a week.

I realized just how very much I appreciated one of my long-term clients.

I booked a trip that I’d been postponing.

I went out for pancake breakfasts at my favorite little restaurant.

I started a new workout routine.

I went back to riding my bike for errands and leaving the car in the garage.

It doesn’t seem like much. It really wasn’t much. I still worked every day, sometimes longer hours than I intended, and yet, a week later, everything felt a little bit different, a little more grounded and a little bit better.

My perspective was the only thing that had changed. And sometimes it seems like that’s enough.

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.