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The Process: Until I Get Back On My Feet

At the church service I went to Wednesday evening, the preacher read from Genesis, Chapter 4, verses 1-10. Those in the know are aware the story in this portion of the chapter is about Caine and his brother Abel, who Caine murders. This, as a result of God choosing to accept Abel’s harvest over Caine’s.

From this scripture, the preacher spoke to the congregation about the importance of being honest with our emotions. As he took to the story to point out, had Caine been honest with God about the way he felt, and expressed his displeasure with what God chose, the resentment he felt towards his brother could have subsided, but instead, it resulted in a most unfortunate demise.

The preacher’s message resonated deeply. I can’t say his words were a revelation so much as they were a reminder of something I too once told people:  Real honesty starts with ourselves. If we ever want to be honest with the facts, we must first be honest about our feelings. I have lost sight of that, and though I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I did, I don’t think it’s as important as knowing it now.

I’m going to take some time off from writing on the site. Optimally, a week, but if I need to take more time off, I will. I don’t know if this will include the Poppin’ Questions Podcast as well, since that’s a totally different (and honestly, less daunting) creative process, but I know as far as writing on the site goes, I need to take a break.

For those who haven’t been reading that long, I’ve taken a break before as a result of burn out. I think it was around my 300th post I decided to take a few days away from the blog. This time around is sort of like that time, but it doesn’t feel like I’m burnt out in the way we’ve grown familiar with the phrase.

This time around, I need to take a break to get back on my feet again because right now I am feeling like a man who is face down on the canvas. Things have changed for me in ways that are both scary and mentally taxing and neither of those feelings are normal for me to have. No good is coming out of me acting like it’s all good.

I am a happy guy who has lost his ability to smile. This is not to say I’m sad, more so, stone-faced with a hint of angst in the voice to boot. I’m tired of going to bed each night knowing it won’t be my alarm waking me up, but rather my anxiety, so tonight I’m attempting to go to bed without that feeling by writing out the truth about how I feel.

I knew it was bad tonight when I was waiting for one of my best friends at a club. He told me to meet him there so we could celebrate him receiving his residency match. This is a moment he has worked extremely hard for, a moment for which I was more than happy to toast. And yet, when I found myself waiting for him, I grew more and more agitated not by his tardiness but just being in the company of people. I didn’t want to be around anyone, and anyone who knows me knows anti-social is never a gear I ride in. But there I was, irritable, and sure a lot of that could have to do with the simple fact that I’m just getting over the stomach flu, but if I attributed it to that alone, I would be pulling a Caine. The truth is, I wanted to get out of there just as soon as I got in there, and as soon as I saw my friend, I didn’t even wait for him to get through the line. I pushed my way outside, told him congratulations, and to hit me up tomorrow, then walked to the subway so I could go home.

On the train, everything hit me. I realized how far away from my normal self I am these days. If I was my normal self, I would not have been on that train so soon. My normal self would not even be writing this post at 2:23 a.m. My normal self would be at the place where my boy asked me to meet him, partying with him and a bunch of fresh doctors, one of whom would more than likely be a cute female I would attempt to schedule a check up with.

Instead, I’m here admitting to all my readers that these days, I feel more lost than ever and this whole lost feeling is new to me. I’m a man who knew he wanted to write for a living since the age of 13 all because I knew I was good at it, and lately I feel quite the opposite; like I’m good, but not good enough. I want to get better at my craft, and when I say that, I don’t mean better on this blog, I mean better at the kind of writing that pays my bills.

This blog is where I do my life’s work. They say, write what you know. For close to 500 posts I have done that by writing about myself and frankly, I need to take a break, if only for a week. The pendulum has swung too far in the direction of this blog, and I need to achieve a certain balance in my career. To be completely honest, I need to take time away from the blog to reevaluate the way I’m working the blog now. Just because I will be taking a writing break from UIGM doesn’t mean I won’t be evaluating it as a business too.

I always tell people my life controls the blog, the blog doesn’t control my life, but these days, I’m starving, and I think a lot of that has to do with how much I give to the blog. I feed this thing more than I feed myself and the rest of my career. I should be at SXSW covering up-and-coming acts for a major publication or working on two or three pieces for various other publications. I should be writing important work for other outlets, creating content on other sites, not just this one. But I’m not. Yesterday I found out the piece I did about Nate Dogg was the most searched for piece on Words can’t explain how good it felt to hear that news. Sure I love getting all the love and acclaim for the work I do on this blog, but I write for a living, so my best work can’t just be here. It has to be everywhere.

For a writer, confidence in their ability is most essential. Without confidence, a writer may as well not have a pen, a paper, or a keyboard. I have lost some of that confidence and in order for me to continue to do this as a career, I need all of it back.

All. Of. It.

Don’t get me wrong, nothing makes me more proud of my career as a writer than what I have created here, but imagine a fisherman who does what he does to eat and does what he does for fun. That’s me. That’s what I do every single day. When I’m not writing here, it’s because I’m writing elsewhere, and when I’m not writing elsewhere, it’s because I’m writing here.

The thing about creating your own body of work is you sometimes get so caught up in putting it all together, you think you’re controlling it but you’re not. If you can’t step away from that thing you’re putting together, then that thing is beating you. True control is having the ability to keep something in place even when your hands are not physically on it; it’s being able to step away from it and come back to it whenever you damn well please.

So  hands off this little slice of my life, so I can take back control a greater part of my life. This is about more than just my blog or my writing for other places. This is about me getting back on my feet and getting back control of what is most important to me. I’m not sad, I’m lost. There’s a difference. I lost my smile, and damn it, I’m a smiling motherf*cker. I like to smile. I like to be happy for my friends. I like to be happy for myself. Happiness is not some mood I get in, happiness is my damn nature. But these days, I haven’t been feeling that way, which means I’ve lost control.

Excuse me while I go get it back.

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  • Artrinity

    You know what’s crazy. I went to bible study this evening and the pastors sermon was called I’m tired of living on empty. To sum it up he was talking about how we live life in a rat race doing all of this stuff but never taking time to re-energize and live the god filled and fun life that he desires for us. He talked about how we need to reconnect and refocus on what’s important.
    Crazy because I completely know where you are. But you have to take tgat time out to refocus, and just life life I promise to send up a prayer for you through your reclamation and rediscovery journey. Remember the joy of the lord is your strength. Take care jozen and when you are ready to grace is with your writing again we will be there waiting 🙂

  • Frankiereporter

    Well it’s good you’re recognizing now that you need the break, before you stressed yourself out so much you’d end up in the hospital. I’ve had those weeks before. I always remember that saying, “when you feel like you’re down to nothing, God is up to something.” It may feel like youre at a bad place, but God’s just getting you ready for a better place. Power through. You’ll be back at it, and better than ever. Telling us the good news in no time.

  • MsClutchedPearls

    I agree, we are not honest with ourselves about how we truly feel and I am glad you realized that a break is needed. Look at it this way…everyone job has vacation time, and it is meant for rejuvenation. Get your feelings back….because in the end that’s what us as readers are attracted too….take time to really enjoy your break and only spend time with those who matters most….and take that friend who just got his residency match out for drinks~ …then ask about his cute female doctor friends:-)

  • brothaSouL

    “I am a happy guy who has lost his ability to smile.”

    wow, jozen…thank you. i sincerely value your transparency – in all of your blog posts, but specifically with this one.

    i swear i think i’m the only person who’s going through what i call ‘Situation Everyday’ thinking, “this really can’t be life.” my life isn’t horrible at all – i mean, i’m not sifting through post-tsunami rubble or fleeing radioactive exposure or anything. but as you said, i know that i’m not living the me that i typically am, and i’ve been trying to convince myself that suffocating my true feelings will eventually create some new reality of contentment. that hasn’t happened.

    i don’t have any answers yet. but this post definitely breathed a bit of life into some first steps. thank you again, sir.

    @artrinity – thanks for posting as well. your thoughts are appreciated equally.

  • SuNni

    Amazing how you can read something and it falls right in line with something else you have heard. During bible study at the church I attend the pastor spoke from the same scripture. Our mission statement for the year is “Contend for the Faith”. But the faith we were fighting so earnestly for is not just the spiritual one but it is on the individual level. We must know and love ourselves so much, that that truth is what we fight so strongly to present to the world in hopes that it touches someone in a positive way. With that being said, you can not be any good to anyone else if you are not true to yourself.

    I appreciate this blog so much for its entertainment value but also for it’s pure honesty. I commend you on deciding to scale back, if just for a short while. Self control is one of the concepts I think we all deal with on a day to day basis. Even though writing is not a bad thing, the idea of knowing when to pull back for yourself is an admirable quality.

    Be Blessed.

  • t.i.2u

    all of us are searching for the right words to convey this message without hurting feelings or leaving anyone hanging but when do we give ourselves a break/let ourselves off the hook for whatever the situation is. i’m “regrouping” and its different. i can’t explain how exactly. it just is

  • Goalwal

    Damn, homie this was heartfelt. We all need to self evaluate or have a reality check on our career, relationships or life in general. Take the break you need and hopefully, you find that balance and smile..

    Maybe this will encourage you into speeding things up with your book… Shit, you give so much to this blog.. set up a pre-order sales and see how many readers will buy… that’s a good way to gauge how much effort to put into writing UIGM, thou this is therapeutic and what you’ve always wanted to do…

    Also, continue to pray…. i just realized myself that i pray over food than i pray over my life and my desires… I gotta get back in w/ God and you seem to be getting that spiritual workout so keep it up…

  • Zzzzz

    Hi, Jozen. I was sad to read this blog entry, but I understand your reasons for doing what you want to do. Makes total sense. Although I’m a fairly new reader, I’ve gone through all of your previous posts. You have an amazing writing style and interesting stories and thoughts that keep me hooked to this blog! I’ll admit that I don’t always agree with everything you say, but you definitely provide a different perspective that allows me to see things in another light. So, for that, I’ve been appreciative of this blog and the effort you put into it. I hope you find your happiness and will return better than ever!

  • Charisma N Class

    good writers are always honest. and you, well you’re always honest on UIGM. i appreciate that. good luck with getting back on track.

  • Violet

    Thanks for writing. Take care.

  • Guest

    Regarding your statement “We all need to self evaluate or have a reality check on our career, relationships or life in general.”
    Don’t speak for anybody but yourself because Jozen didn’t. He was speaking on behalf of himself. You have your life, he has his life, everyone has their own lives. However one chooses to live their life, that’s their business as long as no one is harming each other emotionally and physically. It’s not about being lost, it’s getting to know who we are, what we want out of our lives for ourselves. Fortunately, if there’s one thing we all have control of, is our own lives.

  • Guest

    First time ever writing on your blog. I think we all understand, everything we go through is part of our life story. You’ll have a great story to tell one day. Success is imminent for you. Just try to enjoy the ride to it. And maybe writing on this blog is in its own way therapy for you…so maybe taking a break from it isn’t the best idea. I guess only time will tell though. Be well.

  • Celeste C. Richmond

    Grit is a willingness to commit to long-term goals, and to persist in the face of difficulty. You’ve got grit. You are taking back the control and doing your thing. Your readers support you. We want you to find your smile again… Go!!!!

  • SeriousMatter

    I know exactly how you feel and I will pray for you as you work through this process. Best of luck! 🙂

  • Lalanii

    I always read you, but never never never write. This post resonated with me because I find myself in the same boat. Writing for my website I find more enjoyable than writing on specific topics for others aka “working”- but bills don’t magically evaporate either. Funny how once there’s a pressure behind what you love to do, there’s this overwhelm. As soon as I got halfway through my MFA- dual concentration in nonfiction and poetry, I found myself stuck, depressed, sad, and ready to take my tail home and sleep it off, sleep it away. I keep reminding myself that I started writing for ME. I get too caught up on which post has more views, who is reading or not, what is being said– bleh.

    I’d recommend reading Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird. It has helped me with my writing so much! Your words are entertaining and inspiring and your topics- witty and unique. Sometimes a writer must step outside for air a bit.

    All the best,

  • Twocents4u

    “The Process: Until I Get Back On My Feet” is the same process as finding someone to spend their life with. Truth is Opposites do NOT attract. It’s the Likes, Preferences & beliefs that attracts an individual. At least you are aware of of what it is that you would like to see yourself in, what you prefer to see yourself in, and what you believe you should be in as far as living your life.

  • Guest

    in addition to your statement “We all need to self evaluate or have a reality check on our career, relationships or life in general.” What does it matter to you what everyone else’s position is in life, when not everyone matters in your life. Needless to say, speak for yourself and and not for everyone. I don’t care what you do with your life.

  • Onedia bka MissWhite

    Take your time Jozen. We’ll be here. I’m happy that you’re smart enough to evaluate yourself and make being happy and confident a priority. Good luck to you!

  • A Diva State of Mind

    Thank you for being so honest. We have all felt the way you are feeling. We all look forward to you taking control and getting yourself back on your feet 🙂

  • Maiah

    there are no real words anyone can leave in a comment on your blog to help you find “it”. but in the meantime, we can provide our support and wish you nothing but the best.

  • Kliving80

    Refreshing…your honesty that is, especially when so many of us tend to “front” about having “it” together when the truth is, we don’t. As a writer/entrepreneur, I understand your struggles and while I’m not quite where I want to be…I thank God that I’m not where I used to be. I’ve matured and bettered myself in ways that can’t be measured. I mention that to say that sometimes our understanding of success is clouded. You’ve written over 500 posts…that’s not a meager feat. Reading up on women entrepreneurs, I discoverd that Jenny Craig worked in the fitness/nutrition industry for nearly 30 years before creating the Jenny Craig system/brand, saying, “Success took time, experience, self-confidence, risk taking, marketing and a sense of what people want.” Jozen…you got it homie! With faith and hardwork, UGIM will reach unimaginable levels…

  • Kissy Denise

    WoW. Seems like the place I’m at right now. I took a step back and the clarity helps a lot. I hope you find yours. I just found your blog tonight from some behind the Keyboard: 30 black bloggers you should know, which originated from me Being on Very Smart Brothers facebook page. Out of the 30, yours was the only one I felt was interesting enough to click on. So far, I love the posts that I have read. I even clicked on a ad. LOL

  • Onlyoneheaven

    i could tell you needed the break… i could tell in your writing… seemed like you were writing to keep readers happy… glad u decided to be kind to yourself…