Falling asleep is a war I unconsciously wage each night. It's always the same battle: My memory foam mattress pad versus the lumps, bumps, ridges and crags that are me. I flip over and over, as if I'm a pancake some impatient line cook is obsessively checking for doneness. I turn on my lamp, snatch my journal from my desk-turned-nightstand and scribble slanted notes to myself for my next counseling appointment. I perch my iPhone on my chest and turn on an old episode of This American Life, hoping Ira Glass's soothing monotone will lull me to sleep. I change positions. I groan. I straighten my sheets. I change positions again.
After hours of this, I finally manage to drift off, legs splayed, arms bent at impossible angles, one foot sticking awkwardly out from underneath my unevenly fluffed comforter. This happens around 2 AM. My exhaustion keeps my morning alarm from registering in my brain, and I'm always up just a little bit late.
My work techniques are pretty similar. My craggy, imperfect brain tosses ideas around like softballs but never manages to close its glove in time to catch one. I worry that my end product won't be perfect in the same way I worry that I won't get nine hours of restful sleep; my anxiety in both cases stops me from doing what I need to do in order to eliminate the possibility of total failure. And once I finally manage to come up with something to present as a result of my panicked procrastination, it usually has more than a few kinks that need massaging.
But getting five hours of contortionist-sleep is better than staying up until dawn, and presenting flawed work is better than showing up to a meeting empty handed. I'm twenty years old, and most of what I'm doing is brand new to me. It's okay for me to come up short, just as long as I'm willing to make adjustments. My work is not a reflection of my worth; I am allowed to create imperfections.
Working through these mental blocks is hard, but not impossible. I might not be able to hit the ground running just yet, but rest assured, I'll lace up my sneakers and start walking.