It’s the 29th of February – the extra day we get in a leap year. My original plan was to set aside some time yesterday afternoon to jot down some motivational (but fun) ideas as to how to make the most of today. In the morning, I ran my first fun run since my marathon – a 5km. Once upon a time, I would’ve sniffed at the distance. But we registered as a family and I thought it would be cool if we ran it together.
Well, that lasted for about three hundred metres, when Riley pulled up with a stitch after bolting out too fast and so I stayed with him while Adam and Keira took off ahead. We finished in 37 minutes – respectable, and would’ve been 36 minutes if we were seven seconds faster!
But when I got home and had a shower I started to get a strange throbbing sensation in my left eyeball. I thought it was eye strain until I got nauseous; next, lights and smells started to bother me. Then the head-cracking pain kicked in I thought, “Oh, I get it. Migraine.” Then the right eyeball started.
I took to the couch and didn’t think about the blog again until this morning. And here I am, drugged up on codeine, determined to get some words down because I’m still attracted by the kind of significance we can attach to certain dates. Like it or not, we’re nearly all bound by some sort of calendar or timeline. My breakdown of my early twenties might have beaten most perfectionist tendencies out of me, but I admit that I still find calendars appealing: it’s the scrappy freelancer part of me, pitching pieces and filing them, trying to find that rhythm; it’s the traveller, trying to plan trips around non-peak times and flight sales.
On the flip side, I used to fall into the comparison game, using age or time as metrics of success. This started back when I was twenty-one years old and writing my thesis on a novel written when the author was nineteen years old. I remember getting down on myself (‘What have I managed to do?’) while trying to bear in mind that the novel (The Monk) was written in the mid-1790s – a very different age.
If I was in a particularly bad mood, I would then think, “Okay, let’s look at writers of today. Bret Easton Ellis… Zadie Smith…they published young” and keep listing others. Pretty toxic, right?
It took the breakdown… and a few more years of writing… to realise the time I spent comparing was wasted time. Learning to just worry about what I’m doing resulted in a massive jump in productivity and I’m glad I managed this before the age of social media exploded because that is comparison danger-zone squared. Even so, I’m not perfect. On occasion, I feel the prickle of jealously-slash-frustration. Never at someone’s expense, more in the “why aren’t I doing more?”
This is I circle back to micro-achievements. If I can finish a day and say that I’ve ticked items off a to-do list. If I manage to cook dinner and do the ironing while battling off the early stages of a migraine – like a did yesterday – then not drafting a blog post is fine.
Achievement isn’t a race or contest. I can’t think about it in those terms anyway. It neglects the practise; the process. The work is what matters – but not at your expense. Don’t neglect yourself either.
So however you’re choosing to look at today – I hope you have a good one x