A former boss of mine once told me:
You do your best under pressure
She was damn right. This was many years ago, but it has stuck with me since then. No one had ever figured me out so well so fast the way she did. Not only did I work better under pressure, I enjoyed my job more.
At that time I was doing zero self-reflection. All I knew about myself was whatever others thought of me: smart but lazy. I seemed to deal with pressure better than others, but surely this was due to my nature - too lazy to even care about deadlines.
For years, I approached this the only way I knew: trying to "fix" it. I should be able to work like everyone else.
Only recently I've started to reflect more about myself and to embrace parts of me that maybe, and just maybe, don't need to be fixed. If I thrive under pressure, maybe I should put myself under pressure more often.
I've found that I write my best when I give myself a limited time to finish. I've noticed that my best images happen when I don't have much time to make them - maybe that's why I enjoy fading scenes like sunrise and sunset so much.
I also tend to go all-in when I start something, I focus 200% on that. The general advice is to take it easy, to go slow, to do things little by little, one by one. That is sound advice for most people, it's not for me.
Reflecting on the last few months, I realize that I've created some of my best work and I've come to be in the best shape of my life - at age 37, despite my doctor's recommendation of "daily short walks and a beer afterwards".
Most importantly, I've become hungrier than ever: I want to learn more, I want to do more.
Pushing yourself to the extreme comes with some risks, it's important to be aware of our own limits so we don't go too far. But I also think that staying within our comfort zone doesn't lead to anywhere, it's not challenging, it's boring and brings no joy.
"We must all either wear out or rust out, everyone of us. My choice is to wear out"
- Theodore Roosevelt
I've chosen to wear out, too.