March Update: Adjusting

March 31, 2017 ♥ Posted in: Journal by Kristina Horner

I’ve been going through a bit of an adjustment lately. I think that’s the best way to put it.

It’s a few things, actually. I’ve always led a high-intensity life: thriving off of deadlines, challenging myself to fit more things in, trying to be the poster child for “you can do everything!” Then I started burning out. I started to realize I was doing everything but yet feeling like I had little to show for it. I started reading articles about the concept of wearing your “busy schedule” as a badge of honor, and it all sort of coalesced for me in a big ‘for what’?

I’m learning that’s not actually the life I want. So I’ve been trying to take steps to change it.

But it’s really not easy to unlearn a decade of bad habits.

I stumbled upon this quote the other day from Alice in Wonderland, and it really struck me. The quote goes:

“My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”

That’s the world we live in. I finally saw the spinning exercise wheel for what it is, and I am slowly trying to get off. And to do that, I am trying to figure out where I actually want to run twice as fast, so I can slow down the rest of the time. Stop, even. Rest. Read a book. Watch a tv show for once.

So here are some of my adjustments. It’s a work in progress.

1. Job: I never wanted to be the kind of person to say this, but my job has somehow, without my noticing, become one of the most important things happening in my life. I started at Microsoft as a sort of personal experiment, because I love learning and I wanted to know what the 9-5 life was like. I wanted to experience a desk job. A corporate environment. Work on a large team of people.

A lot of people I know right now are quitting their jobs or stepping back from this lifestyle to pursue personal endeavors, a different path – but I’m the opposite. I’ve never done this before. I’ve embraced it later in life. This is my wild step into the unknown.

And so I spent the first year or so there with one foot in, one foot out.

I enjoyed the job – I did! But I rarely ever needed to stay late, I wasn’t very emotionally invested in my projects, I read books on my lunch break by myself.

Now, that’s changed in a lot of ways. I joined a new team over a year ago that started to feel more like a family, and I had a lot more responsibility given to me. Then I was hired as an actual Microsoft employee rather than a contractor, and was entrusted to help hire the folks that would go on to build a whole Community team for Windows. And then my role expanded to become a much more massive version of what I was previously doing, and guys – I really, really care. I don’t know when it happened, but I do. Work suddenly takes up way more of my creative energy than I ever let it before, but I’m doing such cool things that I realized I’m okay with that.

And while before, I was very adamant about not letting my job keep me from the “creative things I like to do” – now, trying to do both all the time… it’s killing me. There’s too much. And maybe it’s okay if my creative energy gets sucked up by the legitimately really cool things I do at work.

That realization, for me – was huge. My job is a massive part of my life now. That.. changes things.

2. Focusing: Now obviously I can’t become an office drone without any outside hobbies. I’m a creator. I make things. That’s never going to stop.

But it’s time to focus in on the really important stuff.

When you are kind of writing a book and kind of making videos and kind of doing regular cosplays and kind of running a book club and mostly keeping up with a writing prompt program and maybe writing blog posts and sort of committing to a laundry list of social and digital obligations, are you really doing any of it?

Kind of?

Does it feel powerful? Inspiring? Are you doing your best work? No.

I still don’t have a working solution for this particular problem, but I know the theoretical answer is focusing. If you want to write a book, that means making sacrifices. I used to view those sacrifices as like, dedicating Monday nights to writing and complaining a lot about never having any other time to write – but the sacrifices can’t all be social. They can’t be minor. If you want to do something big and lofty and hard, you have to make real sacrifices. You have to commit. Wanting to write a book might mean sacrificing making regular videos for awhile. Skipping a convention I like cosplaying at. Realizing I will never have an active Facebook fanpage because it’s too much work and I don’t actually really enjoy scheduling regular content for myself.

But the problem is, I’ve convinced myself that I have to do all these things. That somehow my whole identity is wrapped up in making YouTube videos and if I don’t, I’ll somehow cease to be me.

Well… that’s bullshit. Because if I’m not even doing any of it very well, what public image or brand am I really building for myself?

If I had to strip everything away but one, my singular focus would be on writing. The fact that I know that, in my heart and in my mind and in my gut means I owe it to myself to do something about it. So whatever it takes, whatever I need to cut out – I’m going to effing do it.

I am going to admit I haven’t been taking my personal vow to write a dang book as seriously as I should, and it’s going to happen.

And that might mean I won’t be around quite as much. It might mean I won’t make as many videos, or respond to emails in a reasonable time frame.

But I think that’s okay.

3. New life-affirming extra-curriculars: This is a bit of a departure from the rest of this blog post, but it’s another series of big adjustments that I think is notable enough to include. In trying to build better habits for myself around my personal projects, I started to see… other bad habits. And one by one, I’ve been fixing them.

I started going to a gym.

I started seeing a counselor.

Joe and I cook dinner together, like real food.

I stopped scheduling out every minute of every day, and I now only put appointments on my to-do list. Everything else (editing videos, finishing that sponsored post, working on cosplay, anything related to my online presence, catching up on email) I can pick and choose (when I have free time) from a casual, separate list. And if it’s not directly related to writing, I’ve decided that it’s all optional.

These things are making a incredible difference in my life, and even though some of it (gym, regular counseling sessions) actually take up more time.. I’m already finding that the emotional and mental clarity they add to my life more than makes up for that.

 

So this is why you might not have seen me around as much lately. This is why my Instagram might go a week without a new post. Why my blog posts are sporadic. Why I’ve not been cosplaying as much, or posting as many videos, or even remembering to tweet sometimes.

I’m trying to do better. I’m trying to do better to the projects I really care about, to my relationships and to myself.

So far it’s going okay.

 


18 Comments

18 Comments

Christie says:

sounds chill! good life choices 🙂

Crystal says:

I’m glad you’re taking the time to focus on what’s important to you! I’ve been following you online for about seven years now (that makes me sound like a creeper, doesn’t it?), and I’ll continue to watch your videos and read your posts whenever you put them out. The frequency doesn’t matter, but your well-being does. Good luck with your book! 😀

Hey thanks. It really, truly helps to hear things like this. <3

[…] also this underlying desire to spend more time outside – but I’m going to do it. See my previous blog post about why this laundry list of things I’ve already laid out here has has has to be secondary […]

Ava says:

It sounds like you are doing a really good job trying to figure out balance. I’m 28 and have grown up ‘with you’. I have a day job that I absolutely love, but sometimes that means putting in 12 hours a day for weeks on end. I know how hard that can be when I seems like so many people around you are just punching a clock or do something untraditional for a living. I’m happy to hear you are taking care of yourself and I will keep enjoying what you do share when you do! 🙂

Thanks for commenting! Glad I’m not alone in putting in long days, and I’m very thankful you’re stuck with me through everything! 🙂

Jackie says:

You do you, Kristina.

This is a very relatable struggle to me as a business woman and wanna-be superwoman. Our generation tells women we can do and be anything, but forgets to let it be known that we don’t have to do everything.

And that work can be a passionate, wonderful activity even if it drains us is also true. My advice? Take some half day PTO mental health days. I’ve done this when I’m overwhelmed and use it to liesurely catch up on sleep or projects or relationships and almost always am more refreshed and productive the rest of the work week.

Also, counseling is huge. I’m excited to find a therapist I like because I simply don’t have time to reflect on my life and make my big plans and that to me is a creative process all in itself that needs to be prioritized

P.s. Fan since pre-5ag, when you didn’t have All that adulting to do

Wow, you’ve been with me a long time! I wonder what that’s like actually – I am so thankful for the viewers/readers who’ve been with me forever because I love hearing about how all the people who were in high school or college are now getting married, juggling jobs and having kids – but I wonder what it’s like for you guys who’ve seen me go through SO MUCH.

Also, I love the half day mental health days. Now if I didn’t use so many of my PTO days for conventions… 😛

Kathryn (OTWriter) says:

If there’s one thing I’ve learned while being in the wonderful world of graduate school, it’s that you need to do what makes YOU happy. It’s good to hear that you like to be busy, and that can even be one of your values. But be careful of that burnout. Take time out of your day to focus on YOU.

I’ve been learning about about wellness activities and the importance of taking care of yourself. It’s incredibly important. Whether it’s meditation or gym time or even cooking with your honey, it all goes towards that wellness factor. And good for you for realizing it and taking the important steps you need.

Adjusting is hard, especially after doing something for so long. It was hard for me to transfer from being a server for almost ten years to teacher’s aid to graduate student with no job, all within 18 months! But I think you’ll do just fine. Don’t worry about updating social media if you don’t have time for it. Do it when you can and those who are loyal to you will be here no matter what.

Take care. And write on.

*fist bump* thank you so much.

Gaby says:

I just wanted to write something incourising like “you go, girl” and then words just went away, you’re an inspiration to me, just keep doing what ever make you happ, at end, that all that matter, be happy, and do what you want, we will read/watch anyway

Hey, “you go, girl” is a totally legitimate response. 😀

Tickandnina says:

Glad to hear this my dear, I love my chill time, always remember to stop and smell the roses along the way in life! You will feel so much more relaxed and thankful for all that you have to offer!

I definitely try! I’m getting better at it, little by little. <3 Love you mom.

I feel ya! I know we don’t know each other very well but your YouTube videos have been a big influence on my own “YouTube journey,” so to speak. I can relate to the frustrating feeling of having your identity tied up in making videos. You’ve found your main focous in writing and that’s really wonderful. I’m struggling to narrow down my focus as well but it’s not as clear. I think that being able to admit you can’t do everything all the time is important. (I’ll get there too!) Anyways, I just wanted to say that you’re one of my favorite people, that I sort-of know, who creates things online that I’ll continue to enjoy regardless of the frequency. You do you Kristina!

Hey Jenny, thank you so much! Let me know if you want to hear about the actual steps I took to land on writing as my main focus – it took me like, multiple months of agonizing over how I like everything and trying to find some method to the madness, haha.
I appreciate you, even though we don’t know each other very well. I’m glad we’re friends!

Nicole James says:

I love that you are doing this. You need to do what is best for you. That is what is most important. Those of us who follow you because you are awesome.. will continue to follow you because you are still awesome. I’m excited to hear about how well your writing is going <3

Thank you very much. 🙂

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