Would you like to know where I’ve been? So would I.
After some freelancing success and a hiatus away from all things writing-related, I couldn’t help but wonder whether or not I lost my mojo. Over the past few months, I’ve certainly felt as though I’d been torn away from my talent. I figured now’s as good a time as any to get to know and show who I am again.
Let me begin by getting you up to speed: During the last few months of 2018 I had a day job*. Although it looked good on paper, in reality, the position truly wasn’t for me. Currently, I question whether or not I should even have it on my resume. There were signs from the beginning that things weren’t meant to be. A bad contract and horrible reviews of my workplace should have been enough to make me be cautious, but I was desperate to be employed. (Note: Desperation ALWAYS leads to bad decisions.)
As time went on, I found myself perpetually stressed. Yet through it all, I longed for a sense of normalcy. Every now and then I tried to keep up with friends and acquaintances via my social media accounts. But by the time Christmas Holidays rolled around, I was mentally and physically drained. In the end I learned that when it comes to finding work, I can afford to be cautious.
Since then, in the wake of the new year, I tried to resurrect an old piece of writing. Last year I’d successfully pitched yet abandoned an essay. Writing articles can be a nerd’s dream, and this one was no exception. Looking back, I know that I’d conducted some amazing interviews, and I still believe in the vision behind my original concept. Therefore, when I first went back to my work, I didn’t anticipate any problems.
And yet, as I attempted to revise and refresh my article, I couldn’t help but notice that something was missing. There are times when you write, and your material touches you personally. You may have done an incredible amount of research, and received quotes from amazing people. You may even turn to friends for great writing advice. Yet when you try to assemble your work and and support it by adding the veil of your own perspective, you may feel as though you’re not doing it justice.
That’s the challenge that plagued me while working on my latest piece of writing. In spite of the good intentions behind my attempted revival, something just wouldn’t let my soul rest.
Don’t get me wrong. I know that I can write. But as I worked I couldn’t help but have doubts about my story’s substance. I hate the idea of being inadequate in a realm that I was born to succeed in.
Meanwhile, as I tried to sort out what was wrong, I’ve had a few epiphanies related to fear and procrastination.
A few weeks ago I thought I’d finally begun to understand where my resistance was coming from. On Twitter I’d written to a fellow writer:
Today I think I finally started to figure out how not to be afraid of writing.
The sensation didn’t last, but the reasoning behind it stuck with me.
One day I realized I was at my best when I stopped wrestling with my doubts. As an artist I’m at my best when I surrender and accept my fate. Writing is what I was meant to do. It’s all I’ve ever wanted since childhood. Yet whenever I’ve caught myself fretting over the fact that I had to write something, instead of focusing on the fact that I got to write–that’s where my internal hell began.
When it comes to your life’s mission, time spent worrying is better spent working.
And then, another revelation. One afternoon when my anxiety was at my most aggravating, it hit me:
I get it! I understand why some artists are driven to substance abuse.
Or, at the very least, I felt as though I understood why some of them had mental health issues.
There are times when feeling the weight of your life’s calling can really mess with your head. On one hand, you’re in a position where you’re able to create and share something amazing. On the other, impostor’s syndrome is darkening your door.
You’re powerful enough to do this, but how dare you?!?
So where do I go from here?
Right now, it seems as though my life is at a standstill. Whether or not it’s the calm before the storm, time will tell.
Ultimately, though, I’m convinced that when you reject what you were meant to do, you’re rejecting YOURSELF. In order to heal this rift, the first solution that comes to mind is a spiritual one. I need to give myself space daily to think intimately about how I regard myself. No matter how much I may have attempted to avoid it in the past, the fact is that I love writing–body and soul. What sense does it make for me to hate my one true love?
In the days to come I look forward to settling down to work, and genuinely embracing my reality. Let’s see what happens next.
For more on mental health and the writers’ journey, read Alicia Elliott’s essay On Burnout.
*I’m looking for a new position. If you know anyone who needs to have something written, get in touch!