I took a break from writing, blogging, etc this year. Also decided to go on a podcast hiatus (the “finale” is coming soon – S.A Cosby. Good shit).
Anyway, that’s a quick summary. I did a lot this year. First novel. First anthology as an editor. A few short stories. Some bites on novels in query mode. Good stuff.
Still, I don’t feel like writing about all that or about what I liked or disliked.
I want to write about a few things I’ve learned this year. And when I say “learned” I mean information that I not only processed, but accepted and applied. So here’s my top 5 things I learned to better my own mental health over the course of the year and in no particular order.
1) My mental health comes first
A lot of folks would feel this goes without saying, but in practice, this can be difficult. Competing priorities, emergencies, and life events all get in the way of keeping your brain cobweb free. That said, I learned I had to make difficult choices sometimes in favor of my own brain. I could not let guilt or unearned obligation get in the way of what was best for me. That meant a few more lessons, but ultimately, I feel they helped push me towards better decisions overall.
2) My worth is not tied to the opinions of others, especially those who want my silence
That said, in our writing scene there are many folks who treat me like shit because of it (while boosting the more agreeable folks, mind you).
This bothered me. Hell, it worried me. If I want success shouldn’t I stay quiet and do the same? Shouldn’t I be content to be the Puerto Rican they can boost to look good in front of each other while maintaining an air of safety and silence that lets them control my “brand” and message?
Maybe. I don’t know. What I do know is that those thoughts poisoned me and I’m done feeling bad for pointing out the wrong – and as an aside, I hate that the phrasing here makes me sound heroic, I don’t feel that way or see myself that way, but again, this aside is rooted in me trying to cover myself to comfort everyone but myself. See the problem there?
I’m proud of me. I’m proud of my talent. I’m proud to be multi-ethnic, and I’m certainly proud of being Puerto Rican. I am NOT proud that I spent years trying to do all of that on other peoples’ terms. And frankly, if you’re reading this and you’re one of those that have rolled your eyes at me or talked shit behind my back, that’s fine. Just do me a solid and eliminate yourself from my life. Not for my well being, but more for the fact that I’m truly working to call it all out as I see it and I’ve become exhausted of being polite. Think of it as a warning.
3) I love my writing
I started writing too finally feel like myself and it’s taken a very long time to land in a place where my writing FEELS like an extension of me. I wouldn’t say I’m 100% there yet or do I believe I’ll not evolve or change, but I do finally feel proud of my voice and my way of crafting narrative.
This year I had many moments where doubt crept in, though, but I’ve learned that I have so many options to get my work into the world that it’s almost robbing myself to feel down over rejection or failure. There’s a balance of self-confidence and open-mindedness I must maintain to ensure I put all my effort into writing and improving that writing. Getting in my feelings won’t do me any favors beyond building up a wall from reality.
4) I am not needed, and I need nobody (in writing)
This is broad and not nearly as worrying as it reads, but it’s a simple way of stating that it’s for the best to understand what I think I need is often only what I want. This also goes both ways.
There are things I want. There are those that want me. To convince myself that any of this will be NECESSARY is silly and driven by ego. I am very fortunate that anybody would even want my writing or my opinion on anything. I’ve learned to keep that in mind through all my endeavors.
The second half of that is more complicated, but I do know I am in a very good place with those I call friends and those I see as acquaintances at best. I’ve often had trouble separating those, but the past couple of years have given me a great amount of insight and I’m OK with knowing I don’t need to be close too everyone. There’s no time for that level of effort, especially with how often social media magnifies what would be a hollow relationship.
This went longer than I anticipated (again, writing break, I’m eager to type) but 2019 was a great fucking year. I feel energized and confident; more confident than I’ve felt in a long time. I sincerely hope all of you are in a good mental space as well.