What I Learned By Simply Taking a Break (From Writing)

by: Derrick Clifton


They say if you love something, let it go; if it comes back it’s yours.

Now, I don’t believe in all fluffy adages like these, since they oversimplify some of the most complex emotions and situations faced in the course of life. But over the past few months, this one in particular holds a degree of truth for me.

It’s no secret that I’ve spent the last two months (and even some time before that) largely away from writing and blogging regularly. It came from a conscious effort more recently, but just prior to that it stemmed from a need to address and adapt to many life transitions following college graduation, family needs and integration into the workforce. It took way more energy than I could ever foresee.

Was there a moment I didn’t think about sitting down and writing something? Rarely. Were there false starts? Plenty. And did it annoy me? You bet.

But once I realized that the flow of life (a divine message, the universe, energy, whatever you wish to call it) was essentially asking that I pause for a moment, I had no choice but to listen.

And I’m glad that I did.

Each new moment had a lesson that was reinforced, relearned or introduced for the first time. Like developing skills to collaborate with a challenging superior at work, or considering how much time to balance between being on-the-go and relaxing with friends and family, or facing a trying personal circumstance with grace, and even self-care when faced with microaggressions or triggers from ignorant people.

But I became so focused on “getting it right” that I wasn’t being kind to myself by creating a space to learn from all the newness being encountered. It evolved into a perfectionism (or fear of “getting it wrong”) that was, in some ways, paralyzing.

So I dwelled in the inertia for a bit, though something odd happened in the process. For a brief time, it was simply doing nothing, and then it evolved into taking a pause to process my thoughts and engage in mindfulness. (I only found out that’s what it was after Googling what I was doing one day. Silly, I know.)

And that time to pause, reflect and allow things to simply flow — without hesitation or the need to always have an immediate answer or a plan — gave me the time I needed to re-center.

I learned to view each experience and each person, regardless of who they are, as a teacher. I began asking myself questions like — what am I learning from each conversation and how is it shaping my view of the world? Which skills from college life can I employ during work life, and which habits should be unlearned? How have the relationships in my life evolved? And, most importantly, how have I evolved?

More often than not, moments like these required that I not speak or act too quickly. They required that I take a pause, allow those feelings and thoughts to marinate and then get things cooking with a plan of action. It wasn’t important that I had an answer, but that I was taking time to experience moments without making snap judgments.

This all came with the understanding that nothing in life — not transitions, situations, people, places, the things I write and even me — will be “perfect” and that it’s OK to simply enjoy the present moment, and even pick up and try again when warranted. That’s regardless of whether it means starting completely fresh or picking up from where you left off.

For me, it’s a large part of why I’m keeping this writing space while creating a new one. While this site has been a part of me for the past eight months, it also represents me while in a state of transition — from a student living and writing within the “college bubble” to an adult facing a “real world” with even more real problems and encounters.

Transitions will come and go, but I’ll always have the experience of who I am. And while I look forward to revving up the posts and launching a new personal site and blog (DerrickClifton.com), it’ll be standard practice to work towards mindfulness in writing and daily life.

Everything is in constant transit and there’s a flow within us that only asks that we embrace it —  and to do so without apology, judgment or fear.

Note: This was originally posted on The Daily Derrick, you can view the original here.  


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