When Things Need to Be Pushed Back for My Health to Come First

So much of life is about prioritizing. There is limited time in the day, and while I believe it is possible to accomplish a lot, I don’t think a lot can often be accomplished at the same exact time. Sometimes, things have to be set down, often unexpectedly, so other things can be prioritized.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean saying “no” to things. Often it means saying “not yet.” You can feel powerfully committed a goal and realize it’s not the right time to pursue said goal. It can be painful to admit to yourself, and even more painful to admit to others, that you’re going to put something on pause to focus on something else. Even if you know in your heart, 100 percent, that it’s the right thing to do.


This is the place I am right now with the novel I am planning on self-publishing. I am 100 percent passionate about self-publishing my novel project. “Panic Cat,” which will be the first in a four-part series, seeks to raise awareness and de-stigmatize issues of clinical anxiety and mental illness and reframes my protagonist’s chronic and mental illnesses as her superpowers rather than her weaknesses. It is a project I am incredibly passionate about, and I know I will continue to pursue its publication with vigor in 2018.

However, my goal up until recently was to get it self-published by the end of this year or the beginning of next, and I now see that the goal, though admirable, needs to be set aside so I can focus on something more pressing right now: my health. I am waiting to see if I will need to have brain surgery for my Chiari malformation at the end of this year.

Meanwhile, I am focusing on that, and on my body and symptoms and management, while also having my hands full with continuing to thrive to the best of my ability in my work as an educator, in my faith as a young Christian woman, and in my family life as a devoted wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend.

It is not an easy or natural thing for me to press the pause button in my life. I graduated from college a semester early. I completed a master’s degree at 25. I was married and had a baby during that time, and was hired into my dream job. Check check check. My goal has always been to climb ladders, check off boxes in my personal and professional lives, get things done as quickly and well as possible. And then…I got sick. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, because in a lot of ways, this sickness is horrible. But there is an upside, and that is that it forced me to slow down and focus on what is truly, truly important. Illness forced me to prioritize. And right now, my priority is my health.

The thing about prioritizing is it sometimes feels like quitting, even though it’s not. Sometimes it feels like failing, even though it’s actually the opposite. Sometimes I worry this means I peaked at 25, and my success is downhill from here. But then I have to remind myself there are so many different definitions of success. And knowing myself and my body and my own limits and needs is just as successful and inspirational as publishing a book. I am young, and I have plenty of time to meet other goals. But I only have one body, and I need to focus on treating it as well as possible. So it needs to be my priority right now. Everything in its own time.

A version of this post was originally published on Writer Kat.

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