I get overwhelmed, easily. Too many changes, too many ‘what if’s’, too many ideas, and my mind shuts down. When I was younger I thought something was wrong with me. Everyone around me seemed to fire off ideas, keep pace with the conversation, generate ideas and thoughts in a flash. I could follow the conversation fine, the lecture, the idea, but I couldn’t come up with my own thoughts fast enough. A few years down the road and I’ve come to accept the fact that I process at a slower pace than some but not all. My mind chugs out its own opinions (usually strong ones), and ideas, and concepts, it just might take me to the end of the conversation to do it. I have worked hard to accept this fact about myself and embrace it. We all have these quirks we learn to live with and we find we are not alone. Although, we usually spend a long time feeling alone in our differences.

Last year was the first year I picked a word to carry through the entire year instead of making resolutions. Have you heard of this idea? I had not heard of it until last December. It came at the perfect time for me, I had sort of felt this push to learn to be brave for over a month, and when my art teacher asked me if I wanted to pick a word for the year I blurted out, “Sure and it should be brave!” It pushed me so far out of my comfort zone last year, to the very edge, and over. I loved it. The big thing I had to do to embrace and conquer brave: publish my novel. And that is exactly what I did in December of 2017. It was a culmination of years, dreams, hopes, and fears, all rolled into one. The bravest moment of my life was hitting the publish button on Kindle Direct Publishing.

Then almost immediately after I published I felt the pressure. The push. The internal voices telling me to sell, sell, sell. Sell my book. Sell myself. Sell Dandelion. Sell it all. I made charts in my bullet journal to keep track of social media, blogs, art journaling, writing schedules. I had published the first book in a series and if anyone read it they would want book 2, in a year, one year from two months ago. It took me two years to write the first one. The pressure to grind out book two in half the time felt intense. Overwhelmed. Beyond overwhelmed. I shut down.

For an entire week, I did nothing.

I had dessert with a friend. I told her about the pressure. I told her how everyone around me wished for my success. Why did I feel this way? Why could I not be excited about their excitement? I told her all I ever wanted was for people to read my stories, to love my stories, to share in my stories. She looked at me and told me to just do that then. Stop trying to sell. Relief. There is something about selling yourself that has always felt intrinsically wrong to me. Like if I sell myself I’m just selling my soul to the devil. Logically I can tell myself this does not need to be the case. But in my heart, that’s how it feels. I can only sell for so long and then I shut down.

I went home and felt better about myself and my art after that night. The next day I made a calendar in my BuJo for my writing and art. For everything me. It won’t feature all the crazy that is the family life, it will only hold the sacred hours I have to fill with what I need to do. I get to start using it this coming week. I’m excited to open it up on Monday and decide what I will write about and not feel the pressure to spend all day creating all the things. I just need to fill two hours with another Dandelion book or the other book project I am working on. I can choose.

What about you, have you ever felt like the outsider with how your mind works? Do you ever feel overwhelmed by life? Do you ever give yourself permission to choose?