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Last Wednesday I found out that I did not place in a book contest I’d entered my memoir in. This came on the heels of a disappointing (and expensive) marketing campaign and seeing a smarmy swath of authors from my publishing cohort bragging (rightfully so, to be fair) on social media about sales, interviews, awards, or other book-selling wins. Their books are good…but g-ddamnit, so is mine. It’s really good.

Earlier that day, I’d tried on several items of clothing and had to put twenty pieces aside for resale or donation (with more items already packed in a box) due to weight gain. Some were pieces I dearly loved, wore often, and hated the thought of getting rid of. (One “favorite dress” is even mentioned on page 47 of my memoir.) I’d done a purge last year but had overlooked or refused to get rid of these items.

About two weeks before that I’d been rejected from a job I thought I really wanted and learned later I was *almost* perfectly qualified for (just not as much as the other candidate–fair enough). This rejection came on the heels of a year-long job-induced mental breakdown, deep depression, and mini mid-life crisis during which I mourned the loss of doing what I really loved in order to have a steady paycheck. Meanwhile there is another “smarmy swath” of people on LinkedIn bragging about how they love their jobs so much they never want to retire (gross).

During my depression I grew to lament buying the home I’m in now and felt deeply resentful and hopeless about the out-of-control housing market.

I was a “sad panda.” Good thing I decided to make some changes.

Last Wednesday after not winning anything in the book contest I went to a taekwondo lesson and immediately felt better. I even did some jump kicks and spin kicks. Those are color belt-level kicks but no small feat for someone who hasn’t been able to jump or pivot much in the last two years. We also worked on higher level black belt forms that I will perform when I eventually test for third Dan–maybe not this year, but not impossible either.

Good old taekwondo — that was what saved my mental health when it was at one of its lowest points in 2013, and that’s what’s come through for me again after nearly two years of mental instability, anxiety, depression, and intense injury recovery.

The drive home gave me some time to cool off, literally and figuratively. Doing the sport I love the most helped wring out the anxiety, anger, and frustration in my brain and see things with a clearer perspective.

I made a few decisions and committed to changing my outlook:

  1. I committed to moving forward with other writing projects rather than keep waiting for my memoir to take off. I’d promote my memoir when it was appropriate, but I wouldn’t put 100% of my #authorlife energy into it. Also, I want to help my partner get his first novel off the ground, and oh…I decided to sit back and BE GRATEFUL FOR THE FACT THAT I PUBLISHED A BOOK.
  2. I snoozed and unfollowed author friends’ social media feeds and writing groups that were just too triggering to my jealousy nerve right now. As Olivia Rodrigo says, “Their win is not my loss,” but it’s hard for me to believe that right now. So, snooze.
  3. I celebrated the fact that my weight gain was from RECOVERING FROM ANOREXIA, which had haunted me since age 13 and was part of my great mental breakdown of 2021. Also, after two years of remote working, two surgeries, and caring less and less about looking perfect (and better than everyone else), I don’t mind having a less packed closet. Plus, once I get my duds organized, I can make a little money and perhaps treat myself to something that flatters my new, healthier body.
  4. I stopped watching videos about the Great Resignation, leaving the corporate world, or “quiet quitting”; they were just fanning the flames of unhappiness. I slowly got through my identity/mid-life crisis and focused on the good things my steady, well-paid job brings to my life. I recognized that things may be changing for the better: I have a new boss I feel like I can be honest and authentic with about my likes and dislikes, and he’s already done some work with my team to get us where we need to be in the future. So far it seems remote work is here to stay, so I don’t have to madly panic-apply to dozens of jobs in order to escape the car-and-cubicle nightmare that’s been dangling over my head for a while.

    I am trying to discipline myself to not think about work off the clock and to not let it take up too much worrying headspace while I’m in the middle of it. I don’t answer work emails or calls in the off hours, but I still think about not liking working more than is healthy for my emotional well-being.

    Stressing about work is a job in and of itself. I mean, I’d take financial freedom and early retirement in a heartbeat, but until that day, I can at least just do it without much emotional toll. My body and all my old hangups about it don’t take up much mental real estate anymore; that’s how I want to feel about my job and the idea of working in general–regard it neutrally and do what needs to be done to respectfully maintain it.

  5. I limited the time I spend on LinkedIn so I wouldn’t pop my eyes out of my head from rolling them so much at the people shouting about how much they love working, and I’ve cut down on social media in general. The world is a screaming dumpster fire, and the less engaged I am in the drama, the better.
  6. As for my home–I paid it off in February, and now that the weather is nicer my partner and I are venturing out a lot more to places we can walk to. I’m also taking walks in the neighborhood most days. Recently I reminded myself of all the features I’d want in a new house that I already have in my existing home. Sometimes it takes gratitude and turning your perspective upside down.
  7. I scheduled more taekwondo lessons! Yay! That’s what saved me when things were rough, and that’s what’s getting me out of this rough patch again. Here’s to more kicking, punching, and feeling good!

3 thoughts on “Frustrated, Disappointed, Burned Out — So I Changed My Outlook (and Went to Taekwondo Class)

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