What Leslie Knope and I have in Common

Ummm, it’s not the hat.

Do you ever try to match yourself or people you know to your favorite characters on TV? Teddy and I do it all the time, but I think our closest “matches” are Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt. This is me:

Ben Leslie2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And this is Teddy:

ben gif2 ben gif3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I didn’t know better, I’d think the writers had eavesdropped on actual conversations we’ve had.

 

I’d never watched Parks & Rec consistently until last fall, when Teddy and I binge-watched seasons 1-6. (I still haven’t watched the last season because last seasons make me sad. If I haven’t watched it, it’s not over, right?)

 

At the time, I was feeling pretty crummy about myself. I had finished the rough draft for a novel, but I had no idea where to go from there, and I had the sinking feeling that it might be fatally flawed. I was left without a project. So I guiltily watched too much Parks & Rec, and then I noticed something. Leslie and I are a lot alike when it comes to work.

 

Leslie loves working. All she does is work work work — on vacations, on her days off, when she’s sick. Always working. When she can’t work, she makes up new subcommittees and community projects and runs them all herself. If Leslie doesn’t have a government project to do, she spirals into a lovable, super caffeinated tornado.

 

I do the same thing when it comes to my creative projects. Even if I’m not directly working on them, I’m thinking about them. I love projects, and I always want to be working on (at least) one. And if I don’t have a project, I get stressed and irritable. (Sorry, Teddy!) I’d love to be working on a creative project right now, I just can’t swing it. It’s felt like I’ve been running into one brick wall after another. I was thinking about it recently and I realized that in the past year I:

 

  1. was diagnosed with PCOS
  2. made drastic lifestyle changes
  3. lost 45 pounds (woohoo!)
  4. had to change my birth control because it wasn’t doing its job (not in a pregnancy scare way, but in a “my period started a week early AGAIN?!” way).
  5. had gallbladder problems which means I’m getting my gallbladder out in April

 

That’s a looooot to handle. And I realized recently that writing a novel sounds totally exhausting and not fun right now. The thought of seeking publication/ marketing sounds like self-imposed torture. (Just like Leslie, I have the tendency to be a *smidge* hyperbolic.) I just do not have the creative energy to pursue that at this stage of my life.

 

It’s honestly terrifying to type out those words. I know there are lots of people who might be rolling their eyes at this post and saying, “Really? That’s what’s stopping her? She just couldn’t cut it, I guess.” I also didn’t want to admit to myself that writing wasn’t working for me. Haven’t I wanted to be an author since I was 12? I’ve literally been working toward this dream for over a decade. Does this mean I’m a failure, or worse, that I’m giving up on my dream? What do I do now?

 

I don’t know the answer to the last question, but for right now I’m trying to show myself grace. I’m still writing down random story ideas and journaling. I’m trying to read about other interests/ think of new things I’d like to try. And Teddy has told me 1500 times that even if I stop writing now, I can always come back to it. I’m *finally* starting to sort of believe him.

 

I keep thinking about the recall vote that kicked Leslie off of city council. That setback didn’t stop Leslie Knope, and this won’t stop me either.

 

Note: If you are working on a novel or other big project, this post is NOT intended to discourage you! This post is talking about how writing isn’t working for me right now. I’ll be the first to cheer you on from the sidelines! Go get ‘em, tiger!

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Hustling vs. The Slow Burn

 

Kirby Cove, CA

 

Are you a hustler? I’m sure you’ve seen all the handwritten notes on Instagram that tell you to hustle, hustle, hustle to get where you want to go. I totally agree that there are times you have to hustle your booty (to meet a deadline, to get the last cupcake, to finish last-minute packing…), but most of the time, I’m not a hustler.

 

When I was in college, I disliked small daily projects, and hated busy work with a passion. I would much rather write a ten page paper than tweet about the book we’re reading (yes, one of my professors made us do that) or do a dumb worksheet. Some of my classmates thought I was crazy, but I loved having a month or two to really dig into a big project.

 

Ironically, now my job is full of small daily projects, but I still feel the same way about my creative work. For a while, I tried to stick to a really strict blogging schedule while writing at least 350 words a day. But when I started feeling burned out, I realized that wasn’t working for me.

 

So I cut myself some slack. I try to post here three times a week, but sometimes I only post once or twice. I try to write 350 words of my story every week day (sometimes I write a lot, other times I can barely hit 200 words). I’m trying to keep up a slow burn, instead of a constant hustle.

 

I can only imagine how tricky it is if you work in a creative business! I see some people on Instagram or Twitter talking about how they’re hustling (for the 10th picture/ tweet in a row) or talking about how they really need a rest but they’re pushing through it. I secretly think those people need a nap and a cookie.

 

I wonder if being a hustler is more about personality types — I know people who hustle all the time, and they love it. What do you think?

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