Have you had a moment in your life when the penny drops and everything just falls into place? All the stress you have been feeling just floats away like a feather in a gust of wind?
I have had times when I have so many things on. I have been juggling and had numerous things in the air at once and I have felt like I was running on a treadmill all at the same time, whilst trying my hardest not to drop anything. I’ve been so stressed my mind has been going 100 miles an hour and I’ve been exhausted from the moment I open my eyes in the morning. What’s that old saying? Like a duck treading water, it looks graceful on the surface but underneath its little feet are paddling madly just to keep afloat. Well…that’s how I have felt in the past.
I am or should I say was a stress head. I’m a perfectionist and I like things a certain way and I strive to do my best at everything I set out to do. I don’t think I’m alone there as most of us try our best. I had set my standards so high that I couldn’t see past perfection. When I started writing my latest book (which is soon to be released) I had visions of how it was going to be, what I wanted to say and how it was going to look. I had strong ideas of how I wanted it all to transpire and I set out to look for a publisher.
The stress I put myself under to research and find the right one was insane. I put so much pressure on myself to make everything perfect. I set up meetings with a publisher I had researched in Perth and I got on a plane by myself and flew to the other side of the country on a mission to come home with a book deal. I didn’t want help from anyone, I was doing this by myself and showing my family and friends what I could accomplish. Brave Kate, going away by herself for a huge meeting…what stress could this possibly cause you ask?
On the morning of the meeting, I was stressed beyond belief. My manuscript wasn’t finished and I was flipping out asking the same questions over and over in my head, what if they didn’t like what I had already written? Was it good enough? I knew it wasn’t perfect and going into a meeting like this with a half-finished manuscript that was far from perfect was making me go into a spin. I felt sick! To my surprise, the meeting went exceptionally well. They had read my first book and were very interested in going to print with book number two. As exciting as it was to hear those words and the prospect of being again published, something wasn't sitting right with me. I oddly wasn’t stressed. I should have been stressed!
I walked out of the office and felt deflated. Before the meeting, I was internally exploding, but I walked out of there a little angry. Why was I angry? I should have been jumping around with excitement, but I was far from that. I went back to my motel and I plonked myself down in the middle of the bed. I started to cry, but I didn’t know why I was crying. Were these happy or sad tears?
I like to exercise to let off steam. I go for a long walk, and sometimes a little jog. I put on my work out attire and stepped outside the foyer of the motel into the sunshine. The warmth that the sun gave me, put a pep in my step and I headed down to the nearby foreshore to have a walk around and check things out. I came across a path that ran down to the water's edge, I put my earphones in, turned on my music and I walked, actually I strutted! My chest was out, my shoulders were back and I was walking like no one was watching. I was gaining speed and before I knew it I was running. Not just jogging like I normally do at a slow pace, I was running.
I didn’t have a care in the world. I was running, and feeling amazing. My hair was flicking from side to side in its ponytail, the fresh sea air was blowing in my face but…my tights had a slight issue. They kept falling down! I was running, feeling amazing whilst hitching up my dacks every few minutes or so, but apart from that, no stress was in sight. I felt great!
When I got back to the hotel I again plonked on the bed. My body was telling me that the run I just did was going to hurt, but my mind was clear. Right there at that moment, I knew why I cried earlier, why I ran without a care in the world, and why I was angry when I left that meeting with the publishers. It was because I was stressing over nothing. I knew I could do it, I knew my book was worthy but I allowed my mind to take over, stress me out and turn something quite simple into something bigger than it had to be. I created the stress.
I decided stress was no longer going to win. I didn’t need it in my life and I was going to do everything I could to stop it in its tracks and let me be happy. I began by rejecting the offer from the publisher. As I said before I knew how I wanted this book to read, I also knew how I wanted it to look and the only way I was going to make it come to life in a stress-free way was to self publish. Do it in my way on my terms.
Ever since that decision on that day, I have worked extremely hard on not spreading myself too thin and always making time for me. Stress was not only causing me to lose sight of the big picture, but it was starting to eat me up from the inside out. Not to mention the copious amounts of grey hair I have gained over the past twelve months from stressing…not ok!
It took a lot of soul searching and time before I came to the realisation, there is no room for stress in my life…how about your life? I urge you to think about what you have and what you need. Do you create stress for yourself like I did?
Always remember…dream big, but don’t stop smiling and more importantly don’t allow stress to take over, like I did. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone going to the other side of Australia on my own, which was a good thing, it was a life lesson I needed. Don’t allow stress to blur your vision of where you want to go.