For the past few months I’ve been in sort of a daze.
The fact is, I am completely exhausted, both physically and mentally.
My legs and knees are sore from my morning jogs. It’s harder to keep my wind. I can’t go faster than cruising speed.
I blame the oppressive Summer heat.
I feel like I’m drawing the same drawings. I feel like I’m hitting the same notes on the piano. I feel like my work has grown stale and predictable and I’m running out of things to say. I struggle to meet deadlines.
I blame my computer.
I used to be able to work until 2AM and wake up at 6:30AM effortlessly to get the home started and get the kids to school. Now, when I sit down at night to begin my evening shift of work, I find myself passed out at my computer by 11:30PM only to wake up at 3AM realizing that another night has been wasted. That’s even with a fresh 10PM cup of coffee in my system.
I blame myself.
I curse my body for not keeping up with my brain. There are days when I slack off. There are days that I’m too tired, or I don’t feel inspired, and I don’t feel like I get anything done.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m nearing the tail end of the busiest year of my life, or if it’s the fact that another year has been tacked on to my age (I presume it’s a little bit of both) but I’m terrified in my thoughts of feeling like I may have reached a bump in the road.
Or a peak?
And it makes me feel frustrated and angry.
That’s my biggest flaw.
I want and expect far too much than what I may be capable of.
Part of the problem of being surrounded by exceptionally talented people is that you always feel like what you’re doing isn’t good enough. You always feel like you’re trying to keep up, and you work harder until you reach your limit.
I think I’ve reached my limit.
And it breaks my heart.
Up to this point I feel like I’ve managed to get where I am out of pure hard work. I always wanted to believe that hard work could overcome any shortcomings I had talent wise. I also have to admit that I feel like I’ve taken my career about as far as hard work can take me. I feel stuck, and I can’t get to that “next level”.
Now the universe is trying to tell me that my body can’t seem to keep up with my demands.
That makes me angry.
Ten years ago this very today, my birthday 2004, my very first picture book (The Guild of Geniuses) was published with Arthur A Levine Books. The last ten years after that have been very good to me and I consider myself a VERY lucky man. However, I’ve never really taken the time to enjoy any of those things because I’ve always been worried about waiting for the shoe to drop.
You know, the balance of the universe.
Everyone has their highs and lows. They have their good years and bad years.
I’ve taken solace in hard work to help me power through any of the lows but, surprisingly, they have never seemed to have come my way. I’m shocked, and I can’t help but constantly feel that I’m due for a bad year.
The beginning of this year was especially rough for me.
My wife, and both parents were briefly hospitalized for health conditions all while I had multiple huge book deadlines where at one point I literally had 12 hours of sleep in an entire week.
It was just me taking care of my parents, my wife, and kids, all by myself.
I felt like I stared at the face of death and all I could do was feel angry at myself.
"You can fight through this, Dan. Work harder. Don’t let the low happen."
Deadlines were met.
Life went on.
But I’m exhausted, and I’ve been exhausted all year from that moment.
I’ve always had optimism get me through life. Year after year you tell yourself that things will get better and better (and it has)
But this year felt like I worked harder than I thought humanly possible. I’ve seen how far I could push my body physically and strangely enough, I feel frustrated.
I don’t want to believe that this is the hardest punch I can throw.
Now I have to rely on an unseen factor.
An “it” factor.
A factor completely out of my control.
I can only accept it. No amount of hard work can get me past this point.
My optimism has shifted to hopefulness.
A few days ago I was given the honor of giving the convocation speech to 6000 incoming freshman students at my old Alma mater, The University of California, San Diego.
I couldn’t help but feel like they found the wrong guy.
I don’t feel I have done anything profound. I wouldn’t have given myself this honor, because I expect more out of myself.
I. Expect. More.
I’m 39 and I feel tired.
This year has made me evaluate a lot of things about how I’ve lived my life so far.
I’ve been sprinting throughout this long marathon of life and I’m tired.
I need to slow down.
I need to let life take me where I am destined to go rather than constantly fighting the current.
Every fiber of my being wants to keep sprinting….
….but I have to accept that I am only human.
(SPECIAL THANKS to Jaime Temairik, Tony Etienne, Paige Pooler, Ken Min, Wison Swain, and Katelyn Lizardi for helping me meet my deadlines. I couldn’t have made it through this year without you)