So. Hoo. This is a big one, huh.

Normally I like to let comics stand on their own as much as possible without any extra commentary from me, but it’s been a while since Steamed Veggies has been a place where I talk this candidly about my mental health (I try to reserve that for About these days, to let myself have different spaces to work in.) This all sort of rushed at me last Friday, and it seemed more expansive than the four-panel format would allow for.

I’ve struggled for a long, long time with my boundaries and work. Whether I was worried it defined my relationships to others, if that would ever run out, or I tied my self-worth to that concept and thus created a constant spiral of second-guessing my place in any room. And let me be clear: I am endlessly grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, for the people I’ve had the absolute pleasure to work with, and I am incredibly lucky that many of those people have respected my time and well-being. But the lack of balance I had was putting me on a path to burning out catastrophically.

The moments in this comic were like having all of the pieces of a puzzle that said “you gotta redefine this relationship you have to work and self-worth or it’s gonna be bad,” but not having the picture it was supposed to make, until one last moment (and a lot of preceding hard work) clicked it all into place.

I think the coolest thing about making art is that one small, unexpected thing could help bring understanding to someone else, that it could become a tool for someone to use in their own life. And when you make something as a result of finding that tool, that effect ripples, I hope, to the next person and next person. Every time I worry that I’m wasting my time pouring myself into a comic like this, I think about the unexpected things that have helped bring so much clarity to my life, and try not to second-guess myself.

This does, of course, mean you have to admit sometimes that the thing that helped snap all of this into place was a fantasy goofs podcast, but, I mean, what else is new.

Reader, I probably do not know you, or what you’re going through, and I am not qualified to give advice in most regards. But I will say I hope you have people in your life who will, either gently or with affectionate aggression, remind you to take care of yourself if you’re struggling with it yourself. And I hope you keep trying to grow no matter how many times you fall.

Thank you, as always, for reading. See you next week.