Gratitude

This post will do what it says on the tin: I simply want to say a huge ‘thank you’ to everyone who contacted me – and there were lots of you – to say ‘congratulations’ after my announcement last week that I was successful in gaining a book deal.

Photo Credit: gregwake via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: gregwake via Compfight cc

As soon as the word was out, every social media account I have went crazy with notifications. People from my home town, old school friends, friends of my parents, people who sort-of vaguely know me through family members, and (quite possibly) a few people who don’t know me at all but got caught up in the excitement of it all, sent me so many messages that I couldn’t keep up. I had Tweets galore (and I even gained a few new followers! True, I lost a whack of ’em shortly afterwards, but as they come, so they go), and I had some lovely email messages from a writers’ group I’m part of (to which I shall respond!) In short, I had so many messages that I couldn’t reply to them all, though I did try my best. I wanted to say, though, that I appreciated every single message and that I’m massively pleased (not to mention slightly blown away and even a little embarrassed) by all the support and positivity, but most of all I’m extremely grateful. Thank you, everyone.

But, do you know something? It’s an overwhelming thing, getting a book deal. My anxiety demons have been awake and roaring for the past while – particularly during those weeks I spent knowing, behind the scenes, that the announcement was coming, but being unable to share it with anyone besides a very select and carefully chosen few – and for a person who, like me, isn’t comfortable with being in the spotlight, now that the announcement’s been made, it’s a weird mix of feelings. I’m very glad and grateful, to you all as well as to my steadfast family, but I’m also terrified. Nauseated with fear, in fact. That’s not something I expected. I read the most amazing blog post over the weekend, which – somehow – I managed to find on Twitter amid the tumult, and here‘s a link to it. You know how, sometimes, you read something and you think: That was meant for me? Even if the person who wrote it doesn’t know you, and will never know you, and certainly didn’t write anything with you in mind, it still speaks directly to your heart and your experience. That blog post is one of those things. I’ve never read anything which comforted me so much, and I think it’s important to talk about things like this – how it can be a terrifying thing to achieve a dream. How it can make you feel things you never expected to feel. How, sometimes, you get to where you wanted to go and you still feel lost, and how frightening that is.

In saying that I’m feeling things I didn’t expect, I’m not trying to take away from my gratitude. I am so glad that so many people were pleased for me, and wanted to share their congratulations, and that so many of my friends and family took the time to get in touch. It was wonderful to have good news to share, and I’m hugely glad to be part of such a supportive, positive and loving community.

But still.

I feel weird.

And, what’s more, I’m allowing myself to feel weird. I’ve been trying to suppress it and work through it and ignore it for months now, but from today, I’m going to own it. I’m going to climb the mountain of Weird and take a deep breath once I get to the top, and hopefully I won’t ever have to climb it again. The only way to deal with your feelings is to acknowledge they’re there, I’ve learned; suppression only serves to compact them in the base of your psyche, turning them over time into a hard layer of bad thinking which becomes difficult to shift. If I can look my weird feelings in the eye and say: ‘Hey. I know you’re there. You and me, we’re going to talk later, okay?’, I think it will help me hugely. And if more of us spoke up about the fact that sometimes, especially at the most unexpected moments, feelings of awkwardness and discomfort and fear and anxiety can come out of nowhere and overwhelm us – even when it seems like we should be at our strongest, or our happiest – I think it would make things easier for others who are also going through it, feeling like they’re totally alone.

Nobody is ever alone. I have learned this lesson in the last few days. I am part of a huge network of people, all connected by time and friendship and family and community, and I’m extraordinarily grateful for that. But I’ve also learned that no matter what you’re feeling, you’re never alone, either. It’s incredibly hard to share and be vulnerable (and I’m grateful, also, to Annabel Pitcher, the author of the blog post I linked to above, for being so open and candid about her own struggles), but if we all had the courage to share our fears, and let the people around us know that we’re all in this together, it could have a massively positive effect on our community.

I’m a weirdo. So, quite possibly, are you. And that’s perfectly okay.

Thank you for reading, for supporting, for being with me throughout this journey. Thank you for being part of my story. I’m grateful, too, to be part of yours.

4 thoughts on “Gratitude

  1. Kate Wally

    There’s no such thing as a normal reaction. Except that, in many senses this seems weirdly normal.

    I did some study once. I worked hard and I did well and at the end, I received a certificate. And I hid it. I hid it because rather than feeling high on my achievement, I felt weighed down by the responsibility of it. I felt anxious that people might expect me to know something. And what if i didn’t know it? What if my study wasn’t enough? People were congratulating me and talking about it and…

    *Anxiety-panic-guilt-worry-scream-palpitations-worry-guilt-panic-anxiety*

    *Takes a deep breath*

    Thank you for this post, and the link to Annabel Pitcher’s.

    Your book deal is AWESOME and I’m very proud of you. *Hugs*

    Mind if I join you on Mount Weird?

    Reply
    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Dude – I have a seat saved for you already. I had a feeling you’d benefit from reading Annabel Pitcher’s article! It has brought me so much peace, I can’t even describe it. I hope it does the same for you.

      Now. Isn’t the view stunning from up here? 🙂

      *sends Kate all the hugs*

      Reply
  2. Janet

    It’s normal. I compared getting published to clearing a difficult level of a video game. No time to skip around being happy because you’re almost immediately dealing with a new set of alligators with ray guns flying around your head while jumping over flaming barrels etc. Now you’ve got to sell this thing. And I’m sure you will.

    Reply
    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Haha! I like that image. Yes, that’s exactly how it feels; like being thrust into an entirely different world where you don’t know the rules and nobody speaks the language. Thanks for your insight, Janet; it’s amazing how something which felt, to me, like a problem only I was having (hence, making me the oddball) is actually one that’s so common – and discovering that has made such a difference to my mindset. Thanks so much. Hope life is good for you.

      Reply

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