It’s been six months since the world ended.
I spend almost all my time thinking about death, grief, and loss and worrying about the worst-case scenarios. I thought I would be prepared, but I wasn’t prepared. I immediately jumped into a thousand meetings that didn’t matter and filling my time with tons of projects that almost broke me.
It took me to my limit in the first two months, and it took another two months to untangle everything and come to a place where I am content. Everything is different, but this whole thing forced me to examine my life which had burned to the ground, pick up the pieces I wanted from the rubble, and rebuild in a way that made sense to me.
My old life was fun, but it was brutal. I miss it, going to shows, seeing people, sometimes, but the thing that helped me was grieving my old life, but knowing I would not ever have it again.
I could not hold onto that person who I once was no matter how much I hoped against hope I could. I had to let go, and rebuild something that could make me happy right now, not in two years when things “get back to normal”.
So, here are a couple of things that really helped me.
1. Get rid of everything you used to hate but did anyway
There were services I offered, things I was obligated to do, and stuff I didn’t enjoy that filled my calendar. Since the world ended, and there was no money in any of that stuff anymore, I stopped pining for them and cut them off. It was hard enough for me to do them when they were profitable, and losing them hurt my bottom line, but damn if I didn’t hate them so much. I dragged them along because they made money, but cutting them out of my life set me free.
Yes, I am telling you to give up. Give up on everything that doesn’t service you. Burn it to the ground (not literally). Only keep that which makes you stronger. You don’t have to keep going with something just because you always have done it. Give up, and love every minute of it.
2. Find the things that really bring you joy
For me, it’s writing. Even when it’s not bringing me joy, it’s how I flush all my anxiety, so I physically have to do it. Since there is no money just about anywhere, it freed me to break my old hang-ups and focus on the thing I loved most.
Another thing I really cherish is talking to fans, creators, and friends, so I started doing virtual dinners once a week with people. I also changed the format to my podcast so it’s really only about people I really want to talk to and miss. I also started launching more products and interacting online with fans more.
Having those two things happening consistently grounds me, and lets me know that I’ll at least talk to one person every week. Seriously, virtual dinners are awesome. Y’all should all try them. No travel. No loud restaurants. No pressure. It’s great.
That’s what I loved about shows anyway, talking to fans and creators, so I made sure to integrate that into whatever this life has become. Whatever brings you joy…keep.
3. Focus on things you always wanted to do with more time.
I also wanted to be present for my wife more, which was only possible because I wasn’t doing 20 shows a year. I absolutely love that part of the new normal. I never have to travel and be away from her for days or weeks at a time.
I also wanted to take my health seriously. I would walk a lot at shows, but that was IT for exercise, so I started walking every day. I just got a Fitbit and have been logging 10,000 steps and walking 5 miles a day, meaning I’m probably in the best shape of my life. I have always been in terrible shape, though.
4. Reward yourself
At least once a week, I reward myself for simply existing, and once for being productive. I can get coffee, boba, acai bowls, or some other treat. I get it just for making it through the week, and I love it. Then, I get another one if I’m super productive, like finishing a book.
Then, once a weekend my wife and I order food so we don’t have to cook. It’s a little joy, but it helps a lot. I know we have it better than many people, but rewards for existing are dope. It’s really hard to live right now.
5. Make a new plan
The old plan is dead. I was supposed to have the best year of my professional life…but I couldn’t because of factors beyond my control. I didn’t cause COVID. I’m staying inside, so I’m doing my part. I am supporting local and indies so they can survive. I’m doing everything I can.
And that has to be enough.
I mourned it. I grieved it. I cried for it. I screamed about it. It killed me.
Just like I would for the death of a loved one, and I then made a plan with the things in the new normal.
It has been Hell, but I think I came out the other side a calmer, more fortified human.
There’s still a LONG way to go, but I can survive in the new normal.
I write cool things, filled with monsters, humor, action, adventure, and generally awesomeness. Then, I sell those things to humans. I am pretty good at it.