Guys I’ve been tired, tired. Too tired to do much of anything “non-essential,” and feeling guilty, unworthy and uncertain because of that. My first instinct was to hop on over to the land of self-loathing. Have you been there? I visit too often and it’s an expensive ass trip. A bit of travel advice, don’t go there. However, I opted for the more productive solution which was to talk to my therapist about it. Her response in so many words was, “Bitch, you really are tired because your energy is leaking all over the place.” Energy…leaks? A concept.
I always have these grand ideas of how to take my platform to the next level, and then I gradually lose the motivation, energy, and inspiration to commit to the consistency required to do that. This is pretty common for people who juggle a day job to the pay bills and a full time (mostly unpaid) job to pursue a passion. It’s easy to get caught up in the importance of the job that pays you, because it pays you, duh. It’s easy to forget who you really are in a corporate environment where you’re just a warm body and a diversity hire. When you spend that much of your day being treated with that level of insignificance, it becomes way too easy to personalize that feeling. This takes up a huge supply of my energy, so I have nothing left with which to create and be purposeful.
When I’m not creating consistently, I start to doubt just how much I really want a career in media if I’m not “willing” to put in the work. Like maybe I don’t actually deserve the professional life I want since I can’t seem to commit, but if not this then what? How much do we actually want the life we think we deserve if we aren’t actively making the changes and taking the steps to create it?
That’s personally why I felt so moved by Nipsey Hussle’s untimely death. Here was someone living in their purpose, using the gifts God gave him to do some good in the world, with so much on the horizon and in the blink of an eye it just ended. That’s my greatest fear. Not to die, but to die full of unused potential. That’s the tragedy of young lives lost, we’ll never know what all they could’ve gone on to do, what more they could’ve learned and then taught. Those losses also lead those left behind to wonder What will they say about me when I’m gone? Am I doing enough?
So you can understand why at a time like this my inability to write, record, and edit feels like more of a moral failure than just unchecked boxes on a to-do list. Then there’s the fear that if I don’t show up every day all day for this platform that my spot will be taken by someone way less interesting and talented, but who was just willing to show up consistently.
These questions and fears snuck in when I wasn’t paying attention and gradually built up until I found myself in the dark place. For me, the dark place is a mental and emotional state where all of the anxious, self-destructive thoughts I have about myself get amplified so loudly in my head that I get stuck there. Most of the time this outwardly manifests into a functional level of depression where I’m walking in a fog and running on fumes, unmotivated to do anything other than the bare minimum of what’s necessary to survive. Work, then home, then sleep. Dassit.
That’s a pattern that works for most people. The most that a lot of people hope for is to work a job they don’t care about, make enough money to take one vacation per year, have kids, send them to college, retire and then start “really living” at 65. No shade to those people, but that sounds dreadful to me. I want my life to have more meaning and purpose than that. I need to do work that matters to me in order to feel fulfilled. So knowing all of this, why do I still feel so painfully exhausted that I’m unable to do the work? Energy Leaks.
When we talk about energy, we tend to forget that it’s a really dynamic force. You can store it, build it, exert it, etc. but energy can also leak. Think of energy leaks as small holes in the bottom of a boat in a lake. The boat will slowly fill with water and start to sink, and what have we seen most people do in this instance on many a cartoon? They try in vain to shovel the water out as more and more water is flooding in instead of plugging the holes. That frantic, unproductive panic my friends is the dark place. Those little holes are unproductive practices and relationships that are slowly and often subconsciously draining the energy you need to do the things that actually matter.
So where are the leaks coming from? There’s a fantastic article here that lists the most common types of energy leaks and how to plug them. I am warning you now that that article is going to make you feel that you’ve been read for filth, but it is the first step towards reclaiming your energy so you can use it how you want to.
Sometimes when you just can’t move and you feel stuck and uncertain and unable to find your why, it’s not that you’re a lazy shiftless bum. Sometimes it’s just that you need to evaluate which practices and relationships are taking away from your energy supply. So you have nothing to give in pursuit of your purpose. I think the phrase, “Charity starts at home,” is referring to the fact that you have to do the work within yourself before (during and after) you can try to change the world. Pouring from an empty vessel never works and maybe your vessel is empty because it has holes. Plug up the holes.