Deadlines. Isn't that a lovely word? Do this or you're DEAD! The history of the word deadline doesn't help much: It refers to the line that actually existed around a prison and indicated the point at which a prisoner could expect to be shot. I think I understand that feeling.
My good friend Gwen has set a goal to have no big knitting deadlines this year, which is good because I'd be sad if she got shot, even metaphorically. Seriously though, I am glad she's doing this because it is stark contrast to the couple of years she's just had while working on a huge, HUGE project.
I, on the other hand, instead of gigantic projects, have lots of smaller ones all coming to some sort of deadline in the next two weeks or so and I feel like I have about 16 high-powered rifles trained on me with their sinister little laser-sights all quivering constantly on my forehead. My heart-rate and breathing are rapid and shallow respectively and I have to reassess and remember what's true.
First you may say "Go write it somewhere else, please." Second, it will be "Learn to say no." While that is excellent advice for all of us, the problem for me is two-fold as follows: Firstly, I do say no a lot (!!!!) and secondly, why would I want to miss out on the things I'm doing? They're good things. Instead of saying no so much that I eliminate the stress of deadlines but trade it for sitting home with a book and my DVR, here are the truths I have to remember:
1. I have such a good imagination that sometimes I think I really will get shot (metaphorically) if I miss a deadline. For me the threat is that I'll let someone down or someone won't like me (yes, at the age of forty-I-should-know-better-four that still bothers me) or that failure is, in fact, the same as death. OR simply that I'll miss out on something fun. The true part is that I've failed lots of times and have lived to tell the tale. I also have missed out on lots of things and similarly survived. I just don't like it. That whole attitude is inherently prideful and reveals that I sometimes do things to be seen or for selfish reasons rather than to be good. Besides, everyone I'm working with is actually a nice person, no sniper-trained prison-guard types in the bunch. It's my own self creating the problem.
2. I tend to see the world through glasses tinted with words like HUGE JOB, TOO MUCH, PERFECTION IS THE ONLY OPTION, WILL TAKE HOURS AND HOURS, etc. It's not a pretty picture but those glasses seem to be sutured onto my brain. The truth is that the things I'm doing can all be broken down into manageable bites. When I actually set a timer and do things said bite at a time, I do just fine and everything gets done. (And yes, I do follow Flylady. I think she's a genius.)
3. The problem with that last thing is that I spend too long seeing things in the big, looming way and sometimes it is actually (and only) the approaching deadline that motivates me to action and so sometimes I really do run out of time. Then another problem emerges which is that I'll kill myself to meet that deadline (so I don't get shot-see the irony?) and then I get the same adrenaline rush as a base-jumper and feel all happy and floaty for a while. I've tried it and I get no adrenaline mainline from doing things with time to spare. It actually feels kind of boring, like I'm not really being creative. I've even second-guessed things I've gotten done in plenty of time and re-done them at the last minute to make sure they're really "right." The truth is that the floaty feeling is a fake kind of happiness. Getting things done without the rush is better. And I don't need a parachute or risk smashing into the sidewalk if it doesn't open.
I imagine at this point some of you are thinking "just choose the book and dvr scenario already!" or else "Get to a doctor, woman!" But really, that's the beauty of blogging right? I can journal my real life, and you can skip to the next thing on your reader. I won't mind. Feel grateful that I have another, totally private blog where the real real life gets recorded. Writing like this, and even to an audience, helps me. I edit and process as I go and try to get to the other side of whatever I'm going through. One good thing about me is that I'm very, very aware of all my, ahem, idiosyncrasies and honestly desire to cope with them in the healthiest way possible. I grew up thinking that having problems and weaknesses of any sort was bad and so I have pretended in the past that I didn't have any. Now instead I'm just trying to be realistic and forgiving of myself and solve them as they come up.
I'll get through all this stuff and one by one the quivering targets will fade away. Or maybe a few of those feared bullets will find their path and I will let someone down or someone will think less of me. That will make me feel sad. Really sad. But it won't kill me and the truth is that then it's the other person's job to forgive me and my job to keep doing my best and and REMEMBER that I did my best.
Okay, back to work.