I officially left my “day job” a few weeks ago (two days before my 35th birthday) to go on a sabbatical with the intended purpose of writing, delving more deeply into myself, and figuring out what I want the next stage of my life to look like. A friend of mine, who is a professional cosplay designer, immediately congratulated me, “Welcome to the creatives!” And I thrilled at the concept. Being a creator, every day, without having to tug myself back to “reality” until I’m ready. This is what I’ve always wanted; the way I’ve dreamed of living my life.
Instead I have been hanging around the house, cooking a lot, reading, watching TV… because a sneaky voice has returned – one I thought I had conquered years ago. I suppose it’s just proof that nothing is ever truly conquered. I cannot seem to ever fully shed the previous versions of myself with their heartaches and insecurities. They lurk somewhere out in the world, waiting to re-enter the scene when my defenses falter.
Perhaps it’s because so much of our culture is built around our jobs. “What do you do,” is often one of the first things a new acquaintance will ask. And I can say, “I’m a writer,” and even though I’ve developed some legitimacy around the way I feel with that, there is still a part of me that thinks, “You’re only a writer to yourself.” Part of the trouble of writing a book is that I could keep it to myself for long periods of time. People knew I was writing one, and would ask about it, but I spent years working on it without showing anyone at all. And even now, when I’ve shown a few trusted people and sent pieces of it out to literary agents, I’m very in control of the eyes that are on it.
This is one of the things that has freaked me out about writing a blog: Anyone can see it. And my writing, though I’ve been working on it for years, is largely untested with an audience.
What will people think when they see the real me out on paper? Especially when I have no clear topic other than talking authentically about myself. Who will even care what I have to say?
After struggling with this for a few weeks, I’ve realized that this is what I should be writing about.
Authenticity means showing up even when you’re messy, after all. Even when you’re broken or confused or don’t know what you’re doing.
Sometimes I am still scared that I have nothing to say that hasn’t already been said. And some days I take comfort in the idea that I can say things in my own unique way or maybe reach an audience who hasn’t already been reached by a topic. Sometimes I fear being overwhelmed by my own feelings of inadequacy, but I’ve learned something new about feelings recently.
When fear and pain and doubt crash over you, covering you like waves in the ocean, when they just keep slamming into you one after another, it is absolutely stronger to dive into the current than to struggle to keep yourself afloat on the tide. The flood may come over your head, but unlike water, you can breathe through it. You won’t ever drown in genuine feelings that you are willing to face.
Dive in, feel the feelings, and just keep breathing anyway.
So, here I am.