The Importance of Taking a Break
If you and I were to be in a casual chat with one another, and you asked me what it it is that I do, unequivocally, without thinking twice, I would say that I am a writer. For years, my identity has been encompassed around my ability to write. I’ve always liked writing, I’ve generally found writing pretty easy, and for the cherry on top, my writing has been helpful to many people.
Writing is the thing that’s always made sense to me, it has been my foundation, my identity, and my purpose. What happens though when that thing that you rely everything on, starts to fall away?
Last year, writing started to become hard and my world slowly turned upside down. I would sit down to write and the screen would stare blankly back at me, when in the past the words would effortlessly flow. Knowing that writing was everything to me, and that the words weren’t coming to screen was incredibly painful.
But I pushed through, because like I said, writing was everything to me (and I placed a very weird badge of honor on myself of never taking a break, which I’ll talk about more in a bit). I wasn’t ready to face the notion that writing and I might possibly need to stop, so I accepted the frustration and continued to put out content week after week.
Over the summer I embarked on a writing project that has been a dream of mine for most of my life: a book. I’ve have an idea for a book I want to write for quite some time, and even though I was in a really challenging writing space, I kept pushing myself to start, because I made myself believe it was the next progression in my life, the natural next step. In a world where everyone is #nevernotworking, I felt that I needed to keep pushing to produce new content and to stay relevant.
This push I now recognize was a fear, of course, but I’ll get to that shortly. When I sat down to start the book, the words wouldn’t come. My mind was blank. I felt completely empty. And afraid.
For years I’ve had ideas and written paragraphs in my mind of how my book would be, and now, nothing. Thoughts flooded my brain about what it meant that I couldn’t write, and yet not one thought came through of the content I was desperately trying to create.
I started to resent writing because it brought me so much agony, I dreaded sitting down to my computer, it became a total chore. My passion was now torturous, and I felt completely overwhelmed.
The fear of stopping, of what it would make me if I took a break, perpetuated my anguish. I was afraid that stopping meant I would never start again. That I would be forgotten. That I would lose my skills. That maybe I would never even want to write again, and then where would that leave me? A writer, who no longer writes?
But I knew I couldn’t do what I was doing any more, and certainly I couldn’t write an entire book feeling this way. I couldn’t publish something that came from that place of me. So, I had a long talk with my mom about what I was experiencing and she blankly suggested that I give myself permission to stop.
I took in her advice, and finally I caved. After 7 years of writing weekly content, I stopped. And it felt amazing. The relief I experienced was immediate.
Taking a break gave me space to breathe and to just be. My brain was no longer on overload constantly trying to think of my next witty quip, and it just became the witness to what life presented to me. I explored new creative outlets and allowed myself to sit in that space between the knowing and the unknown, and it was okay. I didn’t need to be afraid, because this new space allowed so many amazing things to enter my life.
It’s been six months since I stopped writing, I wanted to allow myself the time to refill my well, to experience life so that I could have something to write about, and I’m really happy to be back, and share what this experience meant to me.
If you’ve read this far in the blog and are thinking, well this is really great, but I’m not a writer and this doesn’t apply, I promise you, it does. We all have things that we tie to our identities, that we use to seek approval or value or worth, that we fear giving up because what it will mean for our lives, and it’s always okay to take a break from them.
Your identity is not based on what you do or how well you do it. Your value doesn’t rely on your consistency and grueling dedication. Your place in this world isn’t dependent on actions, but rather your ability to just be. Life doesn’t need us to be in a perpetual grind to be happy, successful, and worthy.
Is there something that your soul has been craving a break from that you aren’t listening to?
What would happen if you allowed yourself to take that break?
What limiting beliefs can you release yourself from, in knowing that it’s okay to take a break? A break can be for whatever feels right for you too, by the way.
Trust that whatever it is you’re being called to break from, if it’s truly meant to be in your life, will be there waiting for you when it’s time to return. It just might look differently than you expected it to, or your relationship with it might be different. And that’s okay! I’m giving you permission to gift yourself the space of a break, and I can’t wait to hear what unfolds when you do.