I had a great talk with Eli Sairs last night. Eli and I have known each other for 7 or 8 years now, which is weird to say. We both went to Ohio University, where we were both jealous of the much more talented Eric Janeczek. But we kept doing our thing anyway.
I moved to DC after I graduated, Eli followed a year later, and then he established himself there while I was frollicking around in Austin, Texas. Three years later, we find ourselves united again, as struggling comics here in New York.
I mentioned to Eli that I’ve been depressed lately, and that I’ve been dealing with a lot of self-resentment. I desperately want to work hard here and try to get as good as I can at stand-up, but I find myself staying in a lot of nights. And that’s been an ongoing struggle since I moved here in January - this sort of self-sabotage bullshit. I want to do one thing, but I don’t do what I want, even though there’s no logical reason why I’m not doing it.
I guess I just feel guilty, for some reason? Maybe because I have been lazy in the past. And so I feel like a piece of shit. I feel like deep down, I don’t deserve to succeed. And so I try to make sure I get the result I deserve - failure - by not doing what I know I should do now, either. As punishment for some previous night when I didn’t go out, or some previous day when I could have been writing or working, but was just wasting time on the internet.
That’s probably part of it.
I think a big part of it, though, is a fear of failure. And a fear of judgment.
I worry that because I didn’t go out that much during the past year, I’m not going to be as good as I could be when I go out tonight. So I’m not going to be my best self. And I shouldn’t have to deal with people judging me for how I am now - because I could be better than this. I’m just not, because I didn’t work as hard as I could have. But if I could be better than this, then it’d be bullshit if I have to exist as the less-than-my-best version of myself that I am right now.
It’s easy for me to realize that if I keep having that same attitude, I’m just going to get older, and get more and more bitter at myself. I’m going to resent that my refusal to just shut up and live my life as my current self - instead of acting like a child, and throwing a 20-year-long tantrum because things aren’t perfect - is what kept me from being happy while I’m alive.
It’s a vicious cycle. And it’s one we should all make sure we’re not holding ourselves in. Because it’s our choice.
That’s the whole point. We wouldn’t feel nearly as shitty if someone else was keeping us from being happy. But it’s us. We’re doing it to ourselves, the whole time.
That’s why I feel so shitty sometimes. But if I look at it from another perspective, it’s also proof that I can fix the problem. Because no one is stopping me from being at peace, except me. I know I can get better, or else I wouldn’t feel like a such a piece of shit in the first place.
Okay...so how do I break the cycle?
Enter Eli Sairs. I was telling him all the insane, self-obsessed, knotted-up-Christmas-lights-shaped ideas that have been running through my head for most of the year that I’ve lived here.
And he said the best way to overcome those thoughts? Be too exhausted to think.
Be too exhausted to think.
I loved that. He said if I just hustle my ass off, and get to as many mics as I can, and completely fill my days with anything...at the end of a week, I’ll be too tired to worry about any psycho-analysis bullshit. At some point, you have a moment where you say to yourself, “Man...am I doing everything I can?”
And then you just kind of shrug and say, “Yeah. I am.”
Once you’re there, you can start worrying about how efficient the “anything” is that you’re doing. But at first, just get exhausted.
What simple advice. But what great advice. Be too exhausted to think.
Good call, Eli. Thanks for the chat.