The night before I published my first book, I sat up and imagined all the ways that it could ruin my entire life. What if someone sues me because I made an error? What if I am harassed on the internet? What if the reviews are so bad that I will never again work in journalism?
I’d spent the past 18 months obsessing over the project, thinking about it on a loop. I would often have trouble falling asleep as I ruminated over the many ways in which it could fall short. For the first time, I began seeing a therapist. My career was at its high point, and I had accomplished a dream so big I’d never actually thought it would come true, but my mental health had never been worse.
The fact that I was also living through and writing about the first years of the COVID-19 pandemic certainly didn’t help, but it was the stress of the book that really had me spiraling. By the time my book was published, in mid-2021 I was physically and mentally exhausted. I longed to do less, to forget about work and productivity and self-promotion and just…be.
As it turns out, I had—and have—plenty of company. Around the time my book came out, so many people were quitting their jobs the media began calling it the “Great Resignation.” Then people started “