It’s a beautiful summer’s day. I’m supposed to go dancing, for a ballet or a lyrical class, but instead, I’m sitting inside with the blinds drawn. My guts are churning and I feel stressed, anxious and paralyzed by fear.
I woke up with the following plan:
1. Relaxing breakfast.
2. Read the next chapter of Story Genius and write for a few hours.
3. Ballet or Lyrical class, depending on how much time spent writing.
4. Relax in The Domain with The Book of Dust whilst I wait for friends to arrive to watch Opera in the Domain, Opera Australia’s annual free performance.
It’s 12:20 and this is what I’ve accomplished:
1. Eat breakfast and feel anxious, stomach churning.
2. Read chapter 4 of Story Genius and become slowly consumed by stress and fear of failure.
3. Sit down at the computer and become paralysed by fear.
4. Seek external validation by wasting time browsing through dating and hookup apps.
5. Become angry at in for wasting time seeking external validation.
6. Masturbate to attempt to relieve the desire for external validation.
7. Verbally chastise me for said neurotic behaviours. (Sometimes it helps to hear it out loud.)
8. Decide to write this journal entry in order to exorcise these feels and anxieties from my mind. So far, it seems to be working.
So what next?
Take some deep breathes.
Try some self-affirmations.
I can do this. I know I can do this. I know this because writing is literally putting one word after the other and that’s what I’m doing right now. I’m writing down my thoughts, feelings and insecurities as honestly as I dare. I’m sharing these with whomever out there is listening. And perhaps that’s nobody but who cares?
The ultimate purpose of my writing isn’t really to entertain others. It’s to figure myself out and, by way of story, to help others better prepare themselves to get through similar experiences as safely, as unharmed as possible.
If that’s what I’m trying to do, then it means I don’t have to write a prize-winning, best selling novel. It removes the pressure because that shouldn’t be how I’m judging my success. Success is sitting down and completing the task to the best of my ability. Maybe it will result in a wonderful novel that will change the lives of those who read it. Maybe it won’t. But what it will definitely do is, little by little, improve my own craft and my understanding of who I am. Of how I have survived in this world and how I might survive better in the future.
I’m sure this has been another long and rambling post but this is what I needed. When I loaded up the dating apps seeking external validation what I think I was really looking for was someone who says that I mattered. That what I was doing was okay. That I existed. Someone to break the loneliness of choosing to spend time with your own mind.
Stephen King writes that when you’re writing you should always imagine writing to your ideal reader, that is to person who gets you. When I write to my journal I am not imagining writing to myself, or to a bookly consciousness, rather I am imagining writing to my eventual lover. The man I keep looking for. Some part of that realisation leaves me profoundly sad because he is not with me by my side. He is not reading this and bringing me the cup of tea, the smile and the kiss of support I need. But there is hope too because one day, perhaps these words will live again, after a spell through time and space, in the mind of the one who is or will become my love. Perhaps in a parallel world he is finishing reading this now and as he smiles, he wanders off to the kitchen to make that cup of tea.