I once went on a job interview for a production gig that I wanted very badly. Everything was going great until the interviewer asked me if I worked well under pressure.
“Oh, definitely.” I began. “I thrive under pressure. In fact, from working behind extremely busy bars for so long, being under pressure is where I’m most comfortable. I mean, I know I’m not here for a bar job, so, I’m not sure why I brought that up exactly, but I assume the level of pressure is around the same. So basically, if you need someone who’s good under pressure, I’m the one. It’s me. You would be wise to invest in…myself.”
As I rambled on, ironically demonstrating my absolute inability to work well under pressure while vehemently proclaiming that I could, I began to panic. I couldn’t help but hear the words that were coming out of my mouth and wanting desperately for them to stop. At the same time however, I knew all the damage I had done needed to be fixed and in my mind, the only way to accomplish this would be to keep talking.
So I went on. Offering explanations on top of mental pictures of the type of cool and collected person I was when placed under fire until finally, while still babbling, my mind was screaming at me to wrap it up Kelly! Put an end to this insanity! Finish on a high note! Say something profound!
To which I paused briefly, looked my interviewer dead in the eye and said “Of course, I also work well under…not…pressure.”
I work well. Under NOT pressure. I said this to a potential employer.
That was at least ten years ago but it was only this past month that I was able to determine definitively whether it’s “pressure” or “not pressure” that I work better under and as it turns out, I was right all along. It’s both. I’ll examine the former first. Despite my nearly melting into a pile of nerves and fears on the interviewer’s floor when she asked me how I performed when under duress, over the last thirty days it’s been made clear to me that without any pressure to produce, I usually don’t.
Remember back when I was all “I’m just gonna take a month off so I can get ahead.” How I wanted to have like ten posts ready to go so that when I returned, I wouldn’t be rushing to get them out on time? Yeah. That was funny. Let me tell you what I did with my month off:
And I’m not even talking about where writing is concerned. I wish I could say that although I was more than lackadaisical when it came to organizing blog posts, at least I was out in the world living my life to the fullest. You know, taking in museums, attending the theater, filling up my creative well with all sorts of new colorful experiences to write about but that was not the case. Other than the odd jobs I picked up here and there to keep myself out of a homeless shelter, for the most part, I spent my time watching hours upon hours of television. Without the pressure to keep up my posts, I just couldn’t bring myself to do them.
But now for the flip side of that coin. I think writers, artists or people in any number of fields for that matter, put a tremendous amount of pressure on themselves to always be churning out their best work. I know I do. I tend to get wrapped up in the number of “likes” a post gets or if people engage with me after I’ve written one. When they seem to be duds I go Well I guess that one kind of sucked. Maybe it would have been better if I did A, B or C. Next time I shouldn’t rush so much. I’m not taking the time to do these right! I need to get more organized! I know, I’ll take a month off and write a hundred posts that are all winners because doing them last minute is too much pressure! Ahhhhh!
And that’s kinda dumb.
Yet this feeling stuck with me during most of my time off. It made it so that one weekend of rest turned into an entire week and then two went by and then it got to the point where I would avoid my computer at all costs because opening it and trying to be interesting was like the scariest thought in the world and when push came to shove I found myself curled up in a ball on my couch watching one series after another on Netflix because I could…not…write.
After twenty straight days of being uninspired and thinking I might never do anything worthwhile in my life again I even even considered giving up this site for good but really, I was just putting too much pressure on myself. Specifically that crappy kind that says “I always have to be at my very best or there’s no point in doing anything at all”. And that kind of pressure can be crippling.
It wasn’t until I was offered another copywriting assignment where I had to actually finish a piece of writing by a specific time, that I remembered writing isn’t so scary after all. In fact, I kind of enjoyed it. However, without the pressure to do so, who knows how long this hiatus would have lasted?
So at the end of the day I’ve realized that I won’t be one of these bloggers who has a month’s worth of posts lined up and ready to go. I need at least some pressure to keep me moving or I simply won’t. At the same time however, I need to chill the fuck out a bit on my expectations here. I’m writing a blog for Christ’s sake, not campaigning for a Pulitzer. Constantly worrying that a particular article wasn’t up to par was keeping me from writing them at all so I’ve decided to be a bit more casual about it all. You may find that my posts now won’t be as rigorously scheduled as they were before and in some cases, they might be more loosely formed. You know, without a specific moral or tidy wrap up in the end because so often I skip entire ideas for lack of something witty to close with.
That being said I’m very happy to be back, if only to reconnect with all of the people I’ve gotten to know through writing this website. Funnily enough, what I missed the most during my month long hiatus were the interactions with other bloggers and the people who comment regularly. I didn’t realize how much I had grown into a community until it wasn’t there anymore. Watching Rachel and McGyvra go at each other in the comments section or having Iva leave a remark for every last link in a Slackers post was worth coming back alone. So thanks you guys, and anyone else who stops by or says hello from time to time! I truly do love being a part of your world and I hope you’ll continue to be a part of mine.
And finally, for anyone awesome enough to actually subscribe to this blog, my apologies for the email last Wednesday announcing my upcoming return as though it were the opening of an Applebee’s. On top of all this other nonsense, some evil asshole hacked into my site two weeks ago pretty and much destroyed it. It’s taken the diligent determination of two fantastic web designers to put it all back together again and we had to do a test email last week to see if everything was working properly. If things look weird right now it’s because we’re still ironing out the last of the kinks. Subsequently, if my next post is about a pilgrimage to Indonesia to track down and beat a fourteen year old who’s seen Fight Club too many times, you’ll understand where I’m coming from.
Cheers, and I’ll see you on Slackers Day!