Remembering to be human in a world obsessed with excessive busyness
As an aside, and proof that this is a work in progress, after posting my newsletter today I looked at my to do list and realised just how much stuff I'd piled into this afternoon. Somehow I expected myself to write 10 pages of comics, do accounts stuff and catch up correspondence. Um. No.
Have pruned the to-do, reflowed the work through the week and made a cup of tea before starting on my now achievable work load!
I’m sorry to hear about the effect Covid had/has on your condition. Here’s hoping you are able to find the time to recharge amidst the jobs you have. I also hope you continue getting the *right* amount of work to keep you just the right amount of busy without being TOO busy.
Wish a lot of people would understand this. As a neurodivergent person, I need time to recharge even more than others; especially since most things are made for "normal" people, and most do not understand what an assault to the senses a lot of things are to a neurodivergent person.
Thank you for sharing this very human (and not in any way “machine”) sentiment! I have been complimented in the exact same way many times, before reaching a massive burnout of my own. I’m just now emerging from the burnout cave and am feeling a mixture of eagerness to get back to cranking out awesome content and terrified that I’ll get caught up in FOMO again. I’ve gone through a similar metamorphosis from being proud to be considered a “machine” to being extremely grateful at the reality that I am but a mere “human.”
I learned my lesson though! I’m a human that needs to experience LIFE in order to have anything of substance for my stories to draw on. Reading about your experience has reinforced my own commitment to this gratitude. I’m far more patient because of it, too. Thank you! 💖
This is such a relatable post! Thank you so much for being brave and sharing your story with us.
This is certainly a work in progress for me, and as I normally am only able to get short-term work contracts I find myself pushing further than I should. It's so hard to get out of that mentality of, 'well, if I'm not pushing 110% they won't offer another contract'.
I'm really glad that you're seeing the positive effects of being kind to yourself and setting limits!
I love you’re writing, but not at the expense of you! Glad you’re learning to breathe a little bit more. One thing I’ve found about myself is if I decide to take time off- I can enjoy it. If I end up procrastinating or ignoring a task I feel guilty for the rest. There’s something about declaring the rest as rest that makes it work. The accidental rest is never as good and way harder to be nice to myself about. I’m trying to learn to decide to rest.
Great piece. I'm another machine trying to remember how to be a human. Solidarity.
Thanks for writing this. There's a lot here I relate to. I'm glad that you've managed to chart a course through all the stress and have found a more sustainable way to work.
I am really pleased that the changes you've made to your day-to-day life are working out - though obviously I wish you hadn't had to go through that dark period to realise it! And from a fellow freelancer: thank you. Whenever I'm not working during the week, I'm constantly feeling guilt for not creating a billable hour - especially in these strained financial times. But rest is so important, like you say. I had Covid last summer, and while I got over the coughing/barely moving phase within about two weeks, the exhaustion took a long time to shift and I learnt very quickly that "feeling" like I needed to stop meant that I really must. There's a book called "Recovery: The Lost Art of Convalescence" by Gavin Francis (a quick Penguin read), which illustrates this so well.
For so much of my career I’ve heard that fateful phrase ‘you’re a machine’, always compliments on volume before quality - and always as I’m asked to do more and more. Up until recently, I honestly took it as a compliment, but recently I’ve kind of reached maximum overload. Even machines can only handle so much, so many processes, so much capacity. The difference with machines is that when they break down, they can be repaired or replaced with a newer model. But as much as the modern world of business sees us as drones, cogs in the machine or just a series of data performing a task, we aren’t and some of these stresses leave scars.
So, yeah, I don’t want to be a machine. I don’t want to be complimented for my ability to churn stuff out. I want to be able to take the time to thoughtfully produce something if quality, less but better. More man than machine to flip a famous statement.
Cavan, thank you for sharing this! I think the creative grind is too often seen as a "badge of honor" and as someone who often gets asked when I sleep, I'm like, every night for at least 7 hours. I've become better over the years at only saying yes to workloads I know I can manage outside my dayjob without inducing too much stress. Being a human is much better. <3
Thank you for putting yourself and this message out there. Not to make light, but Vader's journey to a machine really did end with burnout! Makes me think of the Imagine Dragons song 'Machine'. It also makes me think of myself. I experienced a burnout attack myself two years ago. With all the A-level revising, other things at school, plus the pressure I put on myself to release four omnibus volumes to coincide with a certain date, and plan out a new diet and exercise schedule... it got too much and I ended up crying in the middle of a Maths lesson. This post was a great reminder not to let that happen again.