Originally published on The Pastry Box February 3, 2015.
Be kind to yourself.
There are billions of things to be afraid of in this world and in this lifetime. They can’t possibly all come true.
There are millions of things to be angry and bitter and frustrated and sad about. You’ll feel all of those things regularly.
You are going to fuck up at least one major part of your life royally at least once in your life. If you don’t, it only means you died too young to get to it.
Apologize when you fuck up. Acknowledge that the people you hurt don’t have to forgive you — that’s their choice, not yours — and recognize that whatever you did will have lasting consequences even if it looked like a small thing at the time.
And yes, there is a space in life for being ashamed and embarrassed when you’ve wrecked everything. Own it. Acknowledge it.
But also, be kind to yourself.
The major blunders are not the every day, they are the exception. (Unless you live in a drama TV show a la House, then all bets are off.)
You can’t learn to handle the big things if you can’t learn to handle the little ones.
And oh, as web people, we have so many opportunities for the little ones. Responding too harshly to a client’s criticism. Treating someone new to the field like they’re an idiot. Judging whether our peers know what they’re doing. Judging someone else’s work on our favorite app or site based on our own personal use cases. Bashing that guy who’s always late to meetings. Being that guy who’s always late to meetings. Breaking relationships instead of building them. Being oblivious to how others are reacting to us.
And that’s just at work.
That doesn’t take into account the family relationships, commuting stress, weather, financial situation, or lives we have to live.
It doesn’t take into account the things we cannot control.
What are my brain chemicals doing today?
Am I sleeping right? Is this insomnia again, or just too much caffeine?
Is this an illness or exhaustion or depression? Why can’t I get out of bed?
Am I right to be mad about this or am I overreacting? Is it hormones or depression or anxiety? All of them? None of them?
It’s so easy to let the deadlines and the pressure and the bugs and the miscommunications and the brain chemicals and the sheer act of living drive us to — and beyond — the breaking point. It’s so easy to burn out.
But you are the only person you absolutely must live with for your entire life. No matter how long you live, you will be stuck with yourself.
So be kind.
Take thirty seconds to close your eyes and breathe in big gulping lungfuls of air and enjoy the feeling of being alive.
Turn on your favorite song and dance. Or cry. Sometimes the chance to cry is a kindness in itself.
Find ten minutes to read a short story or a book or an article from an author you admire.
Have an extra cookie.
Buy yourself flowers and revel in their scent.
Say, out loud, “I did okay today,” and accept the compliment.
It’s not a reward. It’s a kindness. It’s not that you’ve earned it or you haven’t. It’s the first step to love.