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What If I Wanted To Slow Down For Myself And Not A Woman?

Here we go again, another post about how busy I am. But this isn’t some cry for help, so much as it is a cry to help myself and if you can relate to any of this, great. Glad you can be a part of the struggle.

I can’t stop writing about this whole busy thing because I’m not any less busy than I was and it’s where I’m at with my life. I’m busy. As hell. And I don’t know how I slow down.

People keep telling me, when the right woman comes along, I’ll slow down. But why must it be because of her? Maybe I would like to slow down not for her, but, for me, and maybe I should be trying to figure out how to do that.

Two years ago, when I wound up in the hospital with a skin infection, my relationship with women came to a head. There was the ex-girlfriend with whom I remained friends, who visited me before anyone else. She was by my bedside when I woke up out of surgery. Then there was the girl I had started dating a mere week before I checked myself in, and came by each of the four nights I was there. Then there was my most recent ex who I wanted to visit me but refused to do so because, well, at that point, the wounds from our breakup were still fresh. And when I left the hospital, there was my mother who flew out from California to help me out as I recovered.

And I remember thinking how shameful it was that the only woman I could truly trust to be there for me was my Mom. All those years I spent away from my home (eight to be exact), all those women who loved me and cared for me at some point, and yet I managed not to do enough for any of them to take care of me to the extent my mother was. I felt like a failure of sorts, simply because I had these women in my life who cared about me, but all were doing so from a distance of sorts. None of them wanted to get in too deep to help me recover because they either couldn’t or simply didn’t want to or were still too busy getting to know me and thus, didn’t trust me enough to be fully invested.

Damn, I though to myself. Why can’t I be a man good enough for a woman to be unconditionally good to me?

Two years later, I’m beginning to think about that period of time a little differently. I think what I’m starting to realize is back then I was upset at myself for the wrong reasons. I shouldn’t have been mad at myself for not being a good enough man to a woman. Maybe the real disappointment should have been at me, for not being capable of taking care of myself.

These days, as I have written for the past couple of weeks, I am busy and stressed, and I know none of it is good for me. Especially as a man who just turned 29, all these things like late hours and early mornings, energy drinks and fast food diets, aren’t meant for men my age. I should have left those days behind in college, but as it turns out, my work space in my one bedroom apartment is looking a lot similar to my workspace in my college dorm room during final exams.

I want to take better care of myself, not for some woman, but for myself. All these people keep telling me it’s going to be  a woman, albeit the right woman, who comes along to slow me down. And I’m not saying I’m opposed to such a thing. I would love for this magical unicorn woman to appear right before my eyes. But you know what else I would like? The self-discipline to slow down my damn self so that if she does appear before me, I can easily recognize her and not pass her up.

Unfortunately, if she is around, I have been way too busy to notice her because right now, I’m in a relationship with myself, and honestly, I am being straight abusive towards it. I’m beating myself up and not only that, I’m not even being faithful to my current self, because every now and then — or wait, let me stop lying, not “every now and then”, every freaking day — I cheat on myself.

That’s right, I cheat on my present self, with my future self. These days, I get so caught up in all the things I want to accomplish, I sometimes neglect the things I need to accomplish. Perfect example: As a man, I often get obsessed with the idea of creating some sort of legacy for some kids I don’t even have yet. Like, all these things I am doing are being done so I can be this good father and husband. Meanwhile, in the present day, I’m an uncle, and frankly, I’m doing a horrible job of that. Just because my new niece lives 3,000 miles away and can’t say a word, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be trying to talk to her on the phone and ask her do things I know she can’t do yet, like, telling her to say, “Uncle Jozen.”

But I haven’t done any of that since she was born on June 11. Instead, I have just worked and worked and worked and worked. Yes, I have gone to a few parties and even take a trip out of town, but ask my boys what I was doing while I was down in New Orleans for Essence Fest or ask my Mom how I was calling her in the mornings talking about the work I had to do when I got back. Ask my two friends who just came out to visit me what I was doing every day when they woke up? Work, work, work, work, work.

I’m honestly sick and tired of writing about this stuff, as I’m sure some of you all are probably sick and tired of reading it, but the only way I know how to get this sort of thing out of my system is if I write about. I’m pretty sure at some point, things will turn around and I’ll start writing about something else, but that time isn’t coming anytime soon as far as I can see; at least, not until the work gets done, or I figure out a way to slow myself down.

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  • rd

    you keep writing about how busy you are *yawn* why dont you stop writing about that and get real work done, perhaps a substantial post

  • Reese

    Huh. Great post. For one… wtf are you doing up so late writing this? Especially for ME to be the first comment.

    For two… send your niece something she needs… like diapers. Or a binky. 🙂 Then write a card to her…. even though she can’t read, it’ll make you feel better. Trust me on this one. Can always follow up with a phone call. Cards are just really personal and no one does it anymore.

    For three… BRAVO! You don’t have to wait for a woman to come along (since I’m a woman myself, I wouldn’t want you to wait for me anyway). You just gatta take care of you. And right now… that means putting the computer down. Do something you love… and I’m not tired of hearing about all this crap yet. I’m impressed with your way with words and your drive, even if it is early as hell in the morning right now.

  • Coco

    Slo yo ro bro. You are going to crash and burn. It sounds like you need to get more organized and set some priorities. Hustling to get ahead doesn’t mean you neglect yourself and health. Are you taking on too much, turning no assignments down? Again, you need to prioritize and in that, schedule time for relaxation, exercise (even if it is just walking), preparing a meal at home, or making a picnic lunch and invite someone you have been wanting to get to know and leave the laptop at home and turn off the BB. You need to seriously reevaluate some things.

  • superwoman

    balance, jozen, balance. i know how it feels when you reckon that you’re in that space where you need to focus, focus, focus on work like a fiend, but please believe me – too much of this intensity leads to burnout – i should know. i’m in recovery from one as we speak….

    take time out – force the issue as though it was a critically important appointment you CANNOT afford to miss… just do something simple, but pleasurable with your time. we love and appreciate the daily blog, but if it’s making you sick and tired, maybe take a week or too off?

    your spiritual, physical and mental health should be a priority. what good are you to yourself, your loved ones, and your legions of devoted followers if you’re limp and wilted from exhaustion?

    slow down. today. turn off the computer – back away from it, and take a nice walk to the park. lie in the grass, have something yummy to eat – and just chill….

  • Madeleine

    Got to make choices, the only way to slow down is to finish something or to let an obligation go…

  • Tasha

    I’ve never been sensitive to a man’s need for balance…always thought they’d fair well no matter what. This post has opened my mind to how men may actually examine their lives in this context but not talk about it. Considering that you have written at length about this within the past month, Ima go ahead a say a prayer for you. Seems this issue is overwhelming for you…not so much the work but the lack of balance….

  • Miss. Riss

    I think its great that you recognize you have to get to a certain point for yourself, not for a woman. People often say, thier mate ” completes ” them, which if fine and dandy. But someone shouldn’t complete you, they should compliment you, you two should be able to come together a team.

    You writing about this, and at least attempting to get yourself together, is just practice, so that when you do meet this ” unicorn ” you know you’ll be ready to rock and roll on whatever you two have in store for the future.

  • Rae Rae

    Great post, and I can relate to it completely. I am so busy with work that I know that I would be a horrible girlfriend at the point in my life. Not to mention I am often horrible to myself because I don’t get enough rest or eat (or eat right). I made a decision on my birthday (which was this month) that I was going to take time to take care of myself and what I need, spend more time with family just for me. Two weeks in and so far so good, even feeling better! I realized that if I don’t just do it, it isn’t going to happen. It won’t be easy but you can do it!

  • Nicky

    Very insightful! Be more kind to yourself.

  • **inquiring mind**

    LOL… I for one will say yes… I am tired of reading how busy you are (and I’m smiling, but I’m so serious). Not so much that it’s redundant because it really isn’t (the story is always from a different perspective) but that it’s an easy fix, so just fix it. You became a writer obviously because you love it and success is like that… complicated and demanding (like a woman- ha!). The same way you are choosey about the women you deal with (like someone said before) be more choosey about your work. Organize. Prioritize. And don’t over ANALYZE the fix… just fix it. Eat better. Stop ordering the burger or steak, throw some salad in the mix. LEAVE THE TACOS ALONE (for a while- they should be like a reward not a ritual). Sleep is a tough one because when you’re sleeping you’re not working. So, (priority *ding*) those days when partying is on the menu (and we all know cause you TWEET that isht non-stop) opt for some rest… R&R is not lame- you’re almost 30, it’s time to slow that @ss down! Other than that… keep going and pushing yourself. Work is good. And, no one said living out your dream wouldn’t be a nightmare… but, we all know it has it’s rewards so just remember to work smarter JOZEN- SMARTER not HARDER. You’re gonna be fine.

    Also, about your niece… don’t you have wireless? (I mean who doesn’t, even I got wireless) Go see her already UGH! #forshame

  • Nicky

    Jozen, don’t stress too much. We all have phases of life where we’re too busy or too slow, self-absorbed or completely available to give to others. Each phase is completely necessary and meaningful.

    But there is one thing I ask myself when reading your endless posts 😉 about being so busy: Is he HAPPY? I hope you are, and I hope your crazed schedule is truly a reflection of the pursuit of what matters most to you. If so, then just sit back, and enjoy this part of your life. I’m sure what comes next will be even better.

  • Leah

    @**inquiring mind** Girl!! I wasn’t going to post at all today, but I swear that’s exactly what I was thinking (your first sentence).

    But I think it’s both an easy fix AND redundant. *shrug*

  • **inquiring mind**

    LOL *hi 5* (yeah, it is a lil)

  • L. Dejean

    Just because my new niece lives 3,000 miles away and can’t say a word, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be trying to talk to her on the phone and ask her do things I know she can’t do yet, like, telling her to say, “Uncle Jozen.”

    ^^^She may not be able to do this but talking to her helps with her language development…get on trying to call her!

    As Nicky said, be more kind to yourself…we can have you getting sick sir!

    I’m dealing with the same things so i understand being busy…my ability to be able to read blogs may even be hindered by my work & school schedule…#deepsigh!

    Great post!

  • Laura

    I disagree that it would take a woman to get you to slow down. If you can’t even slow down for yourself, why would you slow down for a woman, at least long enough for you to realize that she actually is this magical woman that you can live happily ever after with?

  • BoomShots

    I co-sign.
    So many of us do not appreciate the body and the mind’s need for equilibrum. We too often overwork and under nourish ourselves that we are unaware of how much it contributes to the unraveling of fabric of our lives.

    What you are seeing dawg is the connections in your life. The role those personal and social connections play in defining who you are as a person. As the Buddhist say, “be the change you seek in the world”

    You know what the problems are, can you do the necessary things to solve them?

    Many of us have similar dilemnas, you have been brave enough to put yours on public display. It takes a certain level of consciousness to examine the details of our lives and even more to try to interpret them. Maturity is a lot about doing this kind of self auditing and then attempting to resolve by committing to do better the next time.

    The topic will no doubt be over some readers heads because they have not had their moment of deep self examination, some never will because they will unwilling to take the time. Plus it does not fit into their expectation of who they think you are in their minds.

    The dangerous part of being a writer is you probably put too much of yourself out there for public examination. Not everyone will find value in your issues and some may even ridicule. But keep it coming, some of us have been there and some will be getting there in due time.

    “An unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates

  • Leah

    @BoomShots Judging from the comments I’ve read thus far, I don’t think this post went over anyone’s head… It wasn’t really that deep. *shrug*

    But fwiw, I do agree with the rest of your comment. 🙂

  • Danni

    Maybe I’m more sensitive to the “I’m so busy!” rants cuz’ I was just in that same position a couple years back, but I feel you man. And I honestly gotta say, VENT! That “just prioritize” mentality is so much easier said than done for some. At least it was for me. You wanna be the best at all of it, not just a piece of it, even if that means beating yourself to a pulp in the process. Been there, my friend. Sleepless nights staying up thinking about work. Taking vacations to de-stress, but you decide to take your laptop with you…just in case. Focusing on making everything else perfect so much so that you don’t spend even 20 minutes a day focused on what’s really important to you. I feel your pain, Jozen!

  • heaven

    Why do have to post 5 times a week on your blog? Why can’t you cut it down to give yourself a break? And yes, it might get in the way of your traffic, but maybe if you focused less on quantity and more on quality, you wouldn’t be so stressed about it. I know you have other work to do besides this blog… but I’m sure that if you DID LESS…. and focused more, then better things would come out of it.

    You sound way too stressed and frustrated in this post. You sound like you posted this out of obligation… just to fulfill a deadline…

    In life you have no choice but to please others at one time or another, that’s what makes money… but at some point, you have to sacrifice checks for sanity and peace of mind….

    RELAX homey…. take a break and do the things YOU HAVE TO DO first…. I’m sure the people who really care about your well being will understand… everyone else is miscellaneous…. including myself… I’m just a reader…. readers come and go…. Your neice on the other hand is forever…

  • Leah

    I think it all comes down to two things: what you value and how old you are. Where you spend your time and money will tell you what you value. In my 20s, I valued my career more than anything else. God and church were close seconds. My family may have come third, but only because I feel obligated to mention them somehow. Truth be told, I valued success, money, fashion, relationships, stuff like that more than my family in my 20s. Now in my 30s, I value God and church first, along with my health, then family, financial security, SLEEP, career, education… pretty much in that order.

    My point? Jozen, at his age, values his writing career (probably more than anything else, except maybe his mom). Maybe in his 30s, his values will change like mine did. They’ll probably change a few more times by the time he reaches 40.

    It’s not just about being busy. It’s about spending the time you have doing the things you want to do. He’s “too busy” because he wants to be too busy. He can put the pen down whenever he feels like it. He chooses not to because he values his career at this age.


  • Violet

    First off, this is by far my favorite of your “too busy” posts! Raw. Honest. Real. Probably the most effectively introspective.

    Second, I’m happy that you’ve realized your need to make yourself a priority. You’ve accurately concluded that Jozen has been placed on Jozen’s back burner. As I believe you will, COMMENCE TO MAKING CHANGES! You don’t have to know how, but you should ask…God for wisdom. He promises that if any of us lack wisdom, he will give it. See James 1:5 in your (I repeat) your Bible, the “leather bound King James version, with (your) name inscribed in gold leaf on the front.” 😉 You need advice, another pair of eyes to analyze your lifestyle and help you streamline it for authentic success and personal wholeness. I suggest God and potentially seeking God’s wisdom through a life coach or mentor. Surely someone in your well-connected circles is in the business of helping people manage theirs.

    Ask for help.

    Stop beating yourself up for beating yourself up. You’ll get through this. You’ll figure it out. But first, you have to renew your commitment to Jozen, determine and establish ways to properly care for you. Start today, right now, with something simple like giving your niece flowers. Hearing her coo and respond to your voice will bless your soul, warm your heart, and relieve you of the guilt you feel for not having done this enough.

    Take care & God Bless!

  • Angelika

    If you’re crazy busy because you’re trying to get ahead and make a name for yourself, great. I applaud your dedication to your craft and your passionate desire to create a legacy for kids you are nowhere close to having.

    That being said, stop whining about it. Everybody’s busy, but it’s up to you to decide what you’re busy doing. Your life is exactly the life you choose to have, so either suck it up or change it.

  • Violet

    @**inquiring mind** L. O. L. at TACOS & Glitter! 😉

  • Sway

    Hey Joz,

    I do agree with you, definitely do what you need to do for yourself because if you don’t look out for yourself, then who will? This is YOUR life you have to live, and no one else’s.

    And about your comment: “Why can’t I be a man good enough for a woman to be unconditionally good to me?”

    That’s where true friends come in handy good sir. It’s alot more logical to rely on them for support in your times of need, than exes.

  • Leah
  • Nadira Rae

    It’s good that you realized you should slow down for YOU. As much as we want to take care of, provide for, support, and simply be there for our loved ones (or future loved ones), none of that will be possible if we don’t take care of ourselves. You should always be your first priority….if you’re all tired, sick, and broken down, how can you be there for someone else? It’s just going to come down to scheduling and time management (I’m THE worst procrastinator known to man, so I know your struggles lol). Set a bed time for yourself and STICK TO IT, or schedule a daily nap, or just an hour or 2 out of the day where you can just meditate or relax (and do NOTHING). Seriously, it might seem absurd (scheduling ‘me’ time), but that might be the only way to initiate the ‘slowing down’ process. It’ll definitely work…set some goals, execute them, and be consistent about it. You’ll be refreshed and balanced in no time 🙂

  • Kady

    Another busy post! Okay the only reason this post bothers me is because it reminds me of my own life. My current phone counts down the hours until I rise every night when I set my alarm, and I die a little bit inside every time it shows me 4hrs or 3hrs, 5 or 6 hrs is an excellent night.
    Although I do believe it takes hard work to come out above the rest and that it will pay off some time down the line, I am also torn about missing out on fun times, or time with my nieces and friends. For now I’ve finally grown balls enough to tell people no sometimes, or at-least “not now”, you could really drive yourself crazy trying to “do it all” all at the same time. Maybe take a day off this coming weekend, turn your phone off and bum out because your mind and body needs the rest time.

    Since I figure your hard work is probably writing related, then I hope we all get to enjoy it sometime down the line (no pressure).

  • Jasmine

    This post made me automatically think of this song:

  • Spring

    Hey Jozen! I agree with what some of the other followers were saying. Slow down darlin and it is not necessary to post 5 days a week. I would rather get 2-3 quality posts/week about something other than u being busy than 5 stressed out posts. Don’t worry you won’t lose your followers. Take time for yourself babe, you really need a break. Your mental and physical health are at stake.

  • brownivyx

    As a painter, I like to fancy myself an artist during my less self-deprecating moments. Part of the struggle that comes with this is learning how to temper the spirit of the hustle and the grind (ie paying bills and the business of the art) with living a life that is conducive to creating said art (ie the joie de vivre, the fuel and the inspiration). And though I haven’t got it down yet, I have learned how to not make myself crazy over it, which is something.

    So yes, you can (and I suspect will) go after everything you want (assuming you’ve figured out what that is), but you’re going to have to put other stuff, minor stuff you can afford to sacrifice, away. Here lies the rub of adulthood. Figure out what the non-negotiables are and hone in on those majors rather than spreading yourself thin over a wild hodgepodge of things of varying importance. Remember that all artists need to step away from their tablets and live artful lives or else, what will they have to write/sing/paint about?

    Really, though, it just sounds like you’re transitioning into your own version of self-realization…and in a healthy, fairly trauma-free way. That’s a good thing. A blessing. I had to be emotionally gutted by circumstance to even start moving in this direction.

    I’m curious, also, about whether you are in contact with people who are doing what you do and/or are established or further down the path of what you’re trying to do? Because that helps tremendously.

  • That One Girl

    despite the fatigue, tacos, and skin infections, i still would like to be like you when i grow up.

  • Not so new

    I agree with most readers above & for the sake of being redundant I will just say….
    I hope you win in all the categories u were nominated in for the 2010 Black Weblog Awards!
    I voted…did the rest of yall?

  • Cali

    I think there’s a time for everything. Right now, you’re in hustle mode. & believe me, as a person who was in hustle mode for YEARS, that will fade. You’ll tire of being all drive & little fun/relaxation/time to just BREATHE. When that space comes you’ll be ready. You’ll hit a point where you know you’re gonna be okay, that your work is great & will keep being great even if you aren’t killing yourself to get it all done. You’ll get used to your own process & start to make space for other things b/c you’ll feel more secure all around.

    My brain left hustle mode about 2 years ago, & I’m still hanging in but taking better care of me than I ever had before. I feel like I’m readying myself for good things to come, knowing that hustle mode may return one day but for now I’m good. It’ll come, Jozen, & you’ll be fine 🙂