If you told me on Sunday evening that I’d be writing this blog post on Monday morning in preparation for my site relaunch on March 1, I would have laughed in your face. Yet here we are.
Let's Talk About Magical Thinking
Last Thursday, I published a blog post about procrastination and fully believed that all the things I’d put off would somehow get done in the four days before the unrealistic deadline I’d set for myself.
Remember my blog post about my 2022 goals of Accepting Reality and Managing Expectations? Well, this past weekend certainly challenged me to act on those goals and I’m pretty sure I failed. Hey, they’re called goals for a reason, right?
Maybe it was selective amnesia. Maybe it was willing suspension of disbelief.
I can tell you for sure that it was definitely executive dysfunction, specifically time blindness that had me convinced that I could completely redesign my website, update all the products in my shop, create new pages, write new blog posts, improve my site’s performance and SEO, and exist as a functioning human being in one weekend.
Let me say that again because I’m not sure I’ve even fully grasped the absurdity of my self-imposed timeline and workload.
I thought that I could:
- Learn the ins and outs of web design, including but not limited to customizing a new layout, picking fonts and colors, and making sure each page looked good on every screen imaginable
- Fully stock my shop’s inventory with product descriptions, updated prices, and photos
- Format a new homepage that conveys EXACTLY what this website is about, re-do my about page, resource pages, shop page, blog page, and ADD more pages
- Outline, write and edit AT LEAST one blog post
- Assess my entire website with 10+ years of content in order to improve performance and SEO
- Resize images, edit categories and tags, and fit an entire five-day workshop about improving rank on Google into one or two hours
- Eat, sleep, shower, remember to take my meds, spend time with Jeff, FaceTime with my mom, and walk Hudson
ALL IN ONE WEEKEND!
The last time I relaunched my website it took me two whole months but like I said, selective amnesia. Please pardon me while I bang my head against the wall.
Cool! It’s A New Site! But Why Now?
Redesigning my site has been a major goal since the middle of last year. When I relaunched in August 2020, my main focus was writing this blog and my site reflected that. I had no idea that just three months later, I’d be turning my words into designs and that people would actually want to buy them.
I knew I wanted to rearrange my site so I could feature both my writing and products on my homepage. At the time, I was selling clothing and mugs on Bonfire and stickers and magnets on my own site and I thought it would be simpler (for me and my customers) to have it all in one place. So in June 2021, I upgraded my Squarespace plan so I could move everything to my site.
Sometimes I forget that the reason writing comes so naturally to me is that I’ve been doing it most of my life. I went to school for it. I have written on this blog for more than a decade.
Running my own shop, however. That’s an entirely different story. But of course, in true-ADHD fashion, I was all in from the moment the idea hit me and never stopped to consider the logistics. Why? Because logistics are boring and my brain doesn’t prioritize boring.
I was immediately overwhelmed by the logistics of selling on my site and since I struggle with imposter syndrome, I told myself I couldn’t move forward until I was an expert on e-commerce. That way nobody would realize that I had no idea what I was doing. I wanted running a shop to come as naturally as writing did and I wanted it ASAP.
I should point out that June is also the month I switched therapists and started to seriously consider getting an Autism evaluation. Selective amnesia was there again to try to convince me that I could do all the things all at once and of course, I was wrong. I received my Autism diagnosis on September 22 and my life as I knew it changed in an instant.
The rest of 2021 was spent digesting my new diagnosis, trying and failing to figure out business taxes, and taking a two-week-turned-two-month vacation in New York. I spent a lot of the remainder of the year thinking about what I wanted for my life and this website going forward. I thought about all the goals I had for 2022 and how to achieve them. I decided that I wanted to re-design my website in the first half of the year and I felt OK with that timeline. And then on February 1 something big and unexpected happened.
Calm Strips Asked If They Could Feature One Of My Designs
And now they wanted to feature me and my All Worries design ON THEIR SITE!?!?
Remember my blog post about overstimulation? Yeah, well, this was that news that caused it.
And that was all it took. I got it in my head that my new site had to be done by the time my All Worries Calm Shapes went live on their site and it had to be perfect.
And Then Came The Hyperfocus Hangover
On Friday morning I woke up motivated and ready to get things done.
By 4:30 p.m. Sunday I was on my couch entirely unable to move.
And I. Was. Mad.
Not only was my website redesign far from finished, but my hyperfocus hangover made it impossible to do anything at all.
What’s A Hyperfocus Hangover, You Ask?
It’s the neurodivergent experience of feeling completely out of it after becoming so absorbed in a project that you don’t notice the world around you. It’s brain fog times a million. It’s the way your computer probably feels when it has 300 tabs open and not enough memory to handle them. It’s glitching, freezing, and crashing except the computer is actually your brain. It’s the feeling that whatever you are hyperfocused on is now your life and you will never escape it or be able to do anything else for as long as you live. It’s overstimulation to the extreme. And it sucks.
I was mad for a bunch of reasons but mostly because in planning this marathon of a weekend, I failed to acknowledge and accept the reality that my brain is not set up to handle that much. I’m honestly not sure anyone’s is but I definitely knew better than to expect so much from myself in such a short window of time. Yet I tried to do it all anyway.
I was mad because just a few blog posts ago I wrote about how forcing myself to follow certain trends and rules on social media was making it harder for me to unmask and write consistently on my blog yet here I was obsessively researching everything there was to know about web design to make sure I was following all the rules and making every section look just right. I was comparing my site to professional web designers’ websites and getting frustrated that their layouts looked effortless compared to mine. I told myself I couldn’t make my new site live until it was absolutely perfect.
I was mad because even though there was a voice in my head screaming that nobody, including Calm Strips, expected perfection, an even louder voice was drowning it out and telling me that I’d be a failure if my site wasn’t completely done by March 1.
I was mad because I pushed myself to work way beyond my limit which resulted in a complete shutdown. I’d neglected to engage in even basic self-care including remembering to take my medication and listening to my body when it told me to slow down. By Sunday night, the only thing I could manage to do was lay face down on the couch and listen to music. I went to bed at 8:30 convinced that I would never be able to function again.
Things Always Seem Brighter In The Morning
On Monday morning I woke up with considerably less brain fog but a lingering feeling that I’d failed. I made my way downstairs to complete my morning routine:
- Drink coffee
- Watch an episode of my latest Hulu obsession: The Bold Type
- Read a chapter or two of a book
Regardless of what I have going on during the day, I always make time for this morning routine. Often, it’s the only part of my day when my mind is quiet and I feel completely at ease. Without this time to myself in the morning, my day can feel completely off track. At the start of the new year, I added reading to my routine and I cannot fully express how much it’s inspired me to write and create.
That morning, as I stared at the cover of Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, I thought about how at the end of 2021 I told myself I would read a book a month in 2022. I reminded myself that the reason I revised that goal was that past experiences with setting resolutions has taught me that my rigidity in goal-setting has only led to feelings of inadequacy and failure when not achieved exactly the way I planned. Instead of having to finish a book a month, I told myself that I would try to read 12 books without any parameters around when I had to finish them.
Still, I felt disappointed and frustrated that I’d failed to finish my second book of the year. I knew I only had one chapter left but because I had overextended myself the days before and still had tons of work to do, I willed myself to feel comfortable with the fact that I probably wouldn’t finish by the end of the month.
And then I opened the book anyway. As soon as my eyes scanned the page, I knew that I needed to continue reading and I’m glad I did.
"It Might Be Easier But It Wouldn't Be Better"
This quote is the title of the last chapter of Furiously Happy and what Jenny’s husband's response when she tells him that she feels his life might be easier without her.
“I remind myself of that sentence on days when the darkness seems like it’ll never end. But I know it’ll pass. I know that tomorrow things will seem a little brighter. I know that next week I’ll look back on this sentence and think ‘I should stop listening to my brain when it’s trying to kill me. Why did I even write this?’ And that’s precisely why I’m writing this now. Because it’s so easy to forget that I’ve been here before and come out the other side, and perhaps if I have this to read I’ll remember it again next time and it will help me to keep on breathing until the medications take hold and I’m out of this hole again.”
- Jenny Lawson, Furiously Happy
I owe a lot to Jenny Lawson. She’s probably my favorite author. I’ve felt connected to her from the very first time I read her work because it was the first time I ever saw myself in someone else’s writing. Without fail, her words always remind me that it’s OK to be myself. She’s hilariously imperfect and she inspires and encourages me to be the same.
Throughout the life of this blog, I’ve received a lot of positive feedback but there are two specific comments I get over and over:
- People like that I’m a real person who writes openly and honestly about everything in my life rather than hiding behind “Good Vibes Only” and toxic positivity.
- People like the conversational tone of my writing because it makes them feel like they’re reading a letter from a friend. Both strangers and close friends have told me that they can actually hear my voice as they read.
Much like the quote from Jenny’s chapter above, I’m including these comments in this blog post so I can return and read it whenever I’m agonizing over how to say the “right” thing in the “right” way or spending too way long trying to be “perfect” at web design or anything else.
Because here's the thing: The very idea of perfection implies that there is only ONE right way to be or act.
And if I’ve learned anything at all from my Autism diagnosis, it’s that clearly, that isn’t true.
"Done Is Better Than Perfect"
It’s a quote I’ve heard again and again during inspirational talks about overcoming perfectionism and it’s always really confused me because my brain thinks in absolutes. In my mind, done means, well, done. It means that all steps have been completed and there is no need to go back and change anything. There are no loose ends and everything is exactly as it should be.
However, the problem with this type of black and white thinking is that I’ve managed to equate done with perfection and as long as that’s my interpretation of the quote, I’m never going to overcome perfectionism.
Honestly, I don’t think anyone can “overcome” perfectionism because that belief is in itself perfectionistic thinking.
What I can do is EMBRACE imperfection. Rather than holding myself to unrealistic standards and believing that something has to be completely flawless to be taken seriously, I can remind myself that there is beauty and relief in remembering that I don’t have to be everything to everyone. The people who continue to support my work do so not because they are expecting perfection but because they accept me as I am. And even if there are people here expecting something else, I know that I don’t owe anyone perfection. Not even myself.
And, so, today, on the first day of March, I’m launching my new website. It’s not done. It’s not perfect. All the colors might not match and there are probably things missing.
But it’s here. It’s existing, much like I am, and that’s more than enough.
As always, thank you for reading!