Fashion is the way I introduce myself to the world, every day, without saying anything.

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I have been navigating through a really really real struggle with distractions lately – and not just the pernicious kinds of distractions like social media. I’m talking about slipping so far down into the unconsciousness hole that I’m barely recognizable even to myself. Sound dramatic? Well, it is. But, that’s because it is.
disIt’s not particularly worth it to divulge all the ways in which I’ve been self-sabotaging, but I think it is decidedly important to say that distractions are dangerous. No, not irritating, not annoying; they carry pure, unadulterated danger. Again, dramatic. And here’s why: when you go too far down the distraction highway, you end up somewhere that often looks nothing like where you wanted to travel. You start saying things that don’t make any sense, because you aren’t considering, you aren’t responding, you’re simply reacting. You even begin to wear things that make you feel like you’re in a coma – just the standard old combination “because I’m too busy to make a choice,” you think to yourself.

Of course, the only way to stop being so distracted is to lift the veil off of whatever you’re trying to distract yourself from. For me, my distraction was work. I was/am working all the time, and I’d create more work for myself to distract myself from the fact that I feel the constant need to prove myself. There’s this attitude in New York that assumes you have to be running yourself ragged in order to make any success manifest. So I wasn’t sleeping, eating terribly, never taking time for myself, and certainly not aware of my interests. Sounds successful, right…

Distractions are the mind’s way of staying safe, plain, and average.

Distractions keep you small, blinders on, ignorant to life on the outside.

Distractions make you fat, sometimes.

Distractions make you sad, sometimes.

Distractions kill creativity.

Distractions keep you bored.

Distractions keep you isolated.

Distractions are not play or rest, they are soul-suckers.

To immediately snap out of the zombie-like state I often find myself in, I’ve been choosing to take the road less traveled. Here’s what I’ve been working:

I assume I have no idea what anyone is talking about. This one is tough for me because I tend to be a know it all, but when I just assume I have no idea – I start listening more intently, getting a little more curious, and responding consciously. It’s a win-win for everyone.

disaI meditate instead of eat. I love food so so much. If I have a choice between booze and dessert, it’s always dessert. But I have been noticing that I usually just eat out boredom, or sadness, or loneliness, or for security. Instead of deciphering my emotions, I hide them under layers of snacks. So, recently when I’ve been craving a bowl of sugary cereal I stop and meditate for a few minutes. I let my mind go as blank and still as it can get and feed myself that way. If the hunger persists afterwards then, sure, I’ll put some food in my body, but by that time I realize that what I want is nourishment not a quick fix and I go for something more substantial.

I keep working without editing as I go. This is my worst creative mistake – editing as I’m working. I’m working on two rather large projects at the moment and if I stopped and started every single time I thought I needed to readjust a sentence, I would never get anything done. Usually, I don’t have a good eye for an edit until I’ve left it for awhile, but it needs to exist first! In the [paraphrased] words of Anne Lamott, I just need to get a shitty first draft down on the page.

disaaI ask myself this question: Does this make me feel powered, lit up, or vital? Those are the feelings that over time I have discovered are actually how I want to feel. In my career, my marriage, my friendships, my subway commute, I want to feel powered, lit up, and vital. And call me crazy, but I’d like to feel that as much of the time as possible. If I’m working on something or zoning into something that makes me feel anything other than that – I ask myself if it is really worth it. If it’s not a hard yes, it’s usually a no. Pack it up. Move on out.

Putting the distractions down can be as easy or as difficult as you make it. But my guess is, whatever distractions do for you now – whether it’s cover up real feelings you need to feel or tough decisions you need to make – showing up wide awake to yourself every day is going to make you feel a whole hell of a lot better.

What do you do to stay focused?

All images via Pinterest.

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