That Back To School Feeling
Can anyone else relate to having a bit of a Summer slump, hearing that Mercury is in retrograde and blaming it on that? That was basically my thought process a few weeks ago. My birthday was coming up, my motivation was at an all time low and I constantly kept getting distracted by my family Whatsapp thread.
So what’s the problem? A major fear of failing and messing up. Never mind that most things in my head are at the ideas stage and I haven’t even failed at them yet. After my productivity post, I seemed to do a complete about turn and go back to my procrastinating ways.
Although I’m not quite at my January levels of focus, I thought I’d share a few books, podcasts and articles that have helped me put things into perspective recently. It’s so reassuring when ‘successful’ people are able to share their own periods of burnout, anxiety and frustration. All of this is totally normal. You may think that someone is bossing it and working at 100% all the time, but behind the scenes things may not be as they seem.
Hopefully these resources will be useful whether you’re self-employed or wanting to shake up your life in some kind of way. September is a good point in the year to look at what’s working, what you need to change and how you’re going to make that happen. Also can an app that limits Instagram usage just hurry up already?!
The Anxiety Solution
I’ve reread this book multiple times and as you can see it’s covered in a lot of coffee. After listening to the author Chloe Brotheridge on Emma Gannon’s podcast, I felt compelled to order The Anxiety Solution and try to understand what my fears may be trying to tell me. The book starts off by setting the scene and adding context as to why many of us millennials may be experiencing symptoms of anxiety *coughs social media*. I can definitely relate to getting caught up in ‘a feedback loop of anxiety’, going from app to app and feeling worse as a result.
This is a great read if you’re the kind of person who bottles things up. I know that in an ideal world I’d tell someone the minute I’m feeling self doubt or like watching an entire series of GLOW on a Monday afternoon, but it’s so tough to put into practice. The book has a non-judgemental tone and it’s so comforting to read things like ‘When we’re hard on ourselves it makes us more afraid of failure.’ I’ve even come around to the idea of affirmations and downloaded some of the free audio tracks.
The main takeaway for me was to schedule in ‘worry time’, so writing down all the things that are stressing you out at a certain point in the day. I’ve attempted this before bed and it’s surprisingly cathartic to get things out of your head and come up with solutions.
Slay In Your Lane
I light up whenever I see Slay In Your Lane on bestseller lists or mentioned in articles. Basically Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené have written the book I wish I’d had when I was younger, a balanced and inspirational guide for black British women.
When I think back to anything that I used to read for personal development, it usually came from an American point of view. I’m talking Chicken Soup For The Soul and Tyra Banks’ guide to life. This book contains references to the teenage magazines I used to read and 90s girl band Cleopatra (I remember begging my Mum to install matching chunky box braids).
There’s stories of strength but also dealing with tougher times in the all-important mental health chapter, where Yomi acknowledges #BlackGirlSadness as well as #BlackGirlMagic. I would be intrigued to read more about the psychological effects of aspiring to ‘black excellence’ (see this Twitter thread), but I can definitely relate to wanting to be seen as strong and feeling like I can deal with everything myself.
I had so many ‘Aha!’ moments when reading certain parts, as the book adds context to things I may have thought or felt at certain points in my life. It can be quite heavy to be confronted with certain statistics, but this is balanced out with honest interviews and practical advice. I’m so excited to see the legacy this book leaves and the fact that there was a nine-way publishers’ auction proves that there needs to be more research and discussion around aspects of black British womanhood.
The Multi-Hyphen Method
So this book is the final piece of the puzzle. The Multi-Hyphen Method is a well-researched and reassuring read proving that the world of work is changing. Emma Gannon hasn’t written a guide for quitting your job and becoming a full-time blogger, but thinking broadly about having multiple income streams, different projects and working in a way that suits what you’re passionate about. There’s case studies featuring a yoga teacher who does the odd nursing shift and a chef that produces podcasts on the side.
The key to this way of working is being more self-aware, so there’s sections on recognising burnout, dealing with failure and building confidence. The quote that ‘Nerves feel very similar to excitement’ really stuck out for me. One IRL example is when I was at a cycling event last week, feeling scared about being amongst traffic but energised at the same time. Sometimes you do need to see certain statements again and again to really make an impact, so I’d recommend pairing it with her podcast if you really need a kick up the you-know-what.
Some Great Podcasts (Just In Case You Find It Tricky To Concentrate)…
Failing Forward (Behind the Brilliance) – Lisa shares six different points that relate to failure and the thing that resonated most, was seeing each instance as an experiment. What can you do with the information and can you turn it into a foundation for success? She mentions that keeping a journal of efforts, outcomes and failures may be useful as we can wildly overestimate our memories.
Sharmadean Reid On Productivity & Distraction (Ctrl Alt Delete) – I felt like I needed a double dose of Sharmadean Reid after hearing her speak at Shades of Beauty about her latest venture Beautystack. This podcast was mainly about how she approaches productivity and uses data to inform how she works best.
Her quote ‘You can’t have power without knowledge’ really stuck with me, as she’s obsessed with mood-tracking apps and notes down how she feels at certain points in the year. She even admitted feeling a bit crap around her birthday month and keeps things chilled to counteract this.
We Were On A Summer Break (One Girl Band) – Lola’s episode this week definitely came at the right time. Her words on getting back on track after failure or burnout were so comforting and reminded me that I need to start writing down my reflections.
There’s also questions to ask yourself about your ideal working week and when you were in a state of flow. Basically my answer was sometime in June, I’d finished my black content creators post and felt on top of the world before fear set in. Definitely one to listen to again and again.
How To Deal With Rejection (Nobody Panic) – If you need something with more of a humorous tone, then this is a good ‘un (and great if you missed out on Edinburgh festival). Tessa, Stevie and Nish Kumar chat about how they’ve dealt with rejection and it made me think about my own experiences. Did I ever tell you about the time I cried in KFC when I didn’t get into Central Saint Martins?
So what have I realised through all of this swotting? I’m definitely a bit of a perfectionist in denial and certainly haven’t figured out my own definition of success. In fact, I’m scared to write it down because it seems like I won’t even achieve it. How’s that for self doubt?
These books and podcasts are definitely things to keep coming back to. You may read them the first time and think ‘No way am I starting a gratitude journal’ but a year down the line things may be different. It’s also very telling that there’s so many pieces on mindless scrolling (Marie Claire are running a campaign plus Katherine Omerod has a book coming out) and new confidence-building platforms such as Liv’s Insecure Girls’ club. The two issues are definitely linked for me and I’m sure a few of us are in the same boat (whilst double-tapping pictures at the same time).