I’ve always struggled to find balance in my life.
I like to work. I like pushing myself. I like trying things that people don’t expect someone to be able to do. It’s not because I was taught to strive for perfection by my parents as a child (my therapist just couldn’t understand this one) or because I want to be the best human being in the world at everything that was ever invented. I just like doing things.
Years ago, I saw an interview with James Franco in which he said that sleeping was useless, and that he got as little shut-eye as possible to stay productive. I tried this, and found out that sleeping is not useless, and that you will actually turn into a grouch who can’t stay awake in a class that you thought was “basic science” but actually turned out to be a crash course in astrophysics.
So, maybe that as a wash… but once I figured out what schedule worked best for me, I stuck to it. I spent the majority of college waking up at 5:30am, heading to Starbucks, writing until 9am, going to class, working at my campus job, and then coming back home to sleep so I could repeat everything again. During this time, I was also not drinking water, not eating regularly, and was probably a little bit miserable.
When I graduated, I decided to take a break from work. I made the conscious decision to not apply for a full-time job because I wanted to create, but instead of writing, I ended up busting out my Nintendo 64, and played Pokemon Puzzle League for hours a day. I did eventually get a part-time job, if only to supplement the snacking I did when I worked my way up to becoming a Puzzle League Champion. My balance shifted away from work and more towards relaxation (though let’s be real: PPL was actually anything but relaxing).
Two years passed, and I still hadn’t created anything like I had planned. I started feeling guilty. When people asked me what I was doing, I would say “nothing,” but in my head I screamed, “not enough!”
That’s when my Wallagalore journey started. I set out to just make something. I wanted something tangible that I could hold in my hands– to prove to myself that I could get something done. I had been playing around with the story idea for a while, but made excuses to put it off (aka I got really into taking walks on the beach in the middle of the day and looking at famous instagram cats).
When I finally did put myself to work, my balance shifted again. This time, it was like being back in school. Up until recently, I was working three part-time jobs while writing and illustrating Wallagalore in between shifts. I was also exercising for at least two hours a day, not eating enough to a point where I damaged my metabolism/suffered from joint issues, and just felt exhausted all the time. I felt guilty when I wasn’t being productive–still afraid that I wasn’t doing enough.
But it was enough. It was always enough (Except maybe when I was playing Puzzle League and couldn’t beat the Elite Four). I know this because I got the flu the day Wallagalore was released, and got absolutely knocked off of my feet. I couldn’t sit up, I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t do anything. And absolutely nothing bad happened. Nothing combusted. Nothing was destroyed. It was okay to take time off. I actually think I needed a little break; I just didn’t realize it.
As of now, I work two part-time jobs, have two rest days from workouts, and illustrate and write for projects part-time, but take breaks when I need to. I still feel a little guilty when I spend a few hours riding Mission: Breakout! at California Adventure instead of sketching comic panels, but I’m starting to feel better about it. If this is balance, it’s a little weird, tbh. But I’m working on it.
2 thoughts on “Balance”
Annie, you are a work of art. I can’t begin to describe all the colors of your personality I see when I am in your presence! You are a gift-keep writing-you have so much to say!
JULIE!! You are the sweetest! Thank you so much for your words, and for just being YOU!