New Year’s has never been my favorite holiday, though I admit I like it more as I get older. It’s refreshing to eat healthier and clean out your closets, even if the spell only lasts a few weeks. However, as December waned, I took no joy in all the year end round-ups and “best of” lists. I had a gnawing irritation in my gut. I felt like a failure for not meeting my goals, for not getting any closer to the career and life I want. And that feeling was stealing my joy.
Christmas was busy enough to keep me distracted, but the feeling of failure was still lurking around. After Christmas, I was driving and feeling dejected, listening to a rebroadcast of one of my favorite podcasts, Dinner Party Download. The episode contained an interview with Jason Segel, from back when he was promoting his critically-acclaimed movie, The End of the Tour. I listen to DPDL every week, so I had most certainly heard the interview before. Maybe I missed it last time, or maybe I forgot, but Segel dropped some wisdom that was so simple and clear that it lifted me out of my anxiety fog.
“If you are being nice to the people around you, and are trying to take care of yourself and do a little exercise, and are working as hard as you can at what you do, then you’re entitled to have a little bit of peace.”
Yes! Yes, Jason, I am entitled to some peace. You know, it’s not as if all this anxiety has propelled me forward in my “career.” It’s not some renewable energy source that I can use to fuel my life. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. Anxiety kills creativity and sucks the fun out of everything. So remind me of this in a few months, when I’m still plugging away at writing, with no success, still a 32 year-old barista, still not sure what to do with myself. Just remind me that none of those things should get between me and my enjoyment of life.
A list of things that I did in 2015
- Wrote a screenplay.
- Signed my first option agreement. (That one kind of fell in my lap, but I’m counting it because it’s a big milestone for me.)
- Changed jobs. Out of retail hell, hopefully for good.
- Grappled with screenplay structure and seem to have come to terms with it. For this I have the Scriptnotes podcast to thank, as well as Craig Mazin‘s talk on structure at the Austin Screenwriter’s Conference.
- Speaking of which, I attended the aforementioned Austin Screenwriter’s Conference and found my tribe.
- Oddly, I finally began using two social media sites that have been ubiquitous for years: Pinterest and Instagram.
A list of things I’d like to do in 2016
- Read more books. (I created a Books board on Pinterest (which is pretty heavily influence by NPR’s Book Concierge) to keep track of my must-read list.)
- Make a list of classic movies and watch them.
- Spend less time mindlessly scrolling the internet.
- Have better posture. (Continuing the trend of “discovering” things everyone already loves, I think I may like yoga…)
- Cook from my cookbooks more. (I have whole cookbooks from which I’ve cooked nary a recipe.)
- Submit my work to screenplay festivals.
There. Nothing on that list is unachievable. Some of those things are actually fun.
The Year’s Best
As my New Year’s gift to you, I’m listing some of what I’ve watched, read, or listened to this year.
- Transparent. This show blew me away. It is to this decade what Six Feet Under was to the aughts. But at the same time it is totally its own thing.
- Mind of a Chef. Magical.
- Tiny Beautiful Things. (Not published in 2015, but I read it in 2015, so it’s on the list.
- Podcasts! You Must Remember This, Dinner Party Download, Invisibilia, Pop Culture Happy Hour, and She Does (which technically I discovered in 2016, but technically speaking, who cares?)
- Elementary. A great show that I enjoy so much and yet no one seems to know about it.
I’d love to hear about your favorites of 2015 and what you’re looking forward to in 2016. Happy New Year!