Sorry, y'all. I've been behind.
It's a funny thing about being behind, though. When you're really in the weeds, you don't have the time or energy to notice other people like they deserve to be noticed. Emails and messages and callbacks and check-ins - all your little thoughtfulnesses choke down to a trickle, and the ones from other people pile up unreturned. It's not a good feeling - but it's not one I'm unfamiliar with either.
I tell you what, though: there's a weird extra dimension to it when you're playing in the pro leagues. When you can't promote other people properly, it feels doubly greasy to go on promoting yourself. So you stop doing any promotion at all... which means that all the people who are out there promoting YOU get utterly shafted, because spotlighting their efforts means spotlighting yourself, and since you just absolutely can't bring yourself to do that, you end up doing nothing and helping nobody.
Look, I never said it wasn't dumb as hell.
Here's the thing, though. The longer I play this game (and granted, it's not been long at all), the more I notice the reputation I'm garnering - and honestly, it's a prize in itself. I love walking into a room and instantly getting hollered on (which, for those of you unfamiliar with redneck prepositions, is totally different from getting hollered at). I love it when somebody I don't even recognize holds an elevator door for me and says "get in here, Tex!" I love, love, love being the kind of person people want to glom onto. More than anything, I love sucking up all that energy and blasting it back out, like the sea receding in the moments before a devastating tidal wave of enthusiasm.
But the thing is, that only works because it's REAL - and because it involves feeding off the realness of other people. I am 100% legit psyched to be there, and it's the easiest thing in the world to reflect that back on other people. Much harder to feel that joy when there's nobody around to draw from, and it's just me alone in a room with a blinking cursor and a to-do list.
I'm still working on that.
And I know that no job is fun all the time, and that sometimes you just have to fake it 'til you make it. But man... as dumb as it feels to write this, I just 100% seriously don't want to end up like one of those plastic talk show hosts - you know, always SUPER PSYCHED about how whoever/whatever is their FAVORITE BEST EVER, even as that weird dead-eyed expression sets in and rumors swirl about a secret drug problem. Enthusiasm is a sacred thing, at least to me. It feels like a special kind of wrong to fake it.
Or better to say, I know I need to do better at this - be more present and consistent, especially online - if I'm serious about getting somewhere. And I am. But there's got to be a way to do it that doesn't involve selling out my one special mutant power. I don't want to get better at pretending to be excited. I want to find new ways to actually get excited, and do a better job of expressing that, especially here in cyber-land.
So I'm going to take this week to do some visible and long-overdue appreciation of the people whose work I am genuinely enjoying. I'm also going to play board games and eat ridiculous things with my family and read books in the bathtub and enjoy the little quiet spaces in between. Enjoy the reprieve, citizens - next week, we're getting back on the wagon!