Like, I’ve got all of these journals and notebooks. I’ve got tons of them, lined up waiting to be filled, but I haven’t filled them. Why? Because I’m scared of making them look ugly. I’m afraid that my handwriting won’t be neat enough, or my ideas won’t be organized enough, or good enough to fill the pages. So, I write on the first couple of pages, and then I stop. What the hell is wrong with me?
It’s like this with my life. I wrote Distractions, in 2008. Then, a lot of things were different in my life. At the time, Red’s fears were – are my own. Would I be smart enough to survive med school? Would I be good enough to do it on my own? Would I? Am I doing what I want to do? Questions, tons and tons of questions, and I had no idea how to find the answers.
Fast-forward seven years, and things are a lot different. A lot. I’m grateful for where I am in life, and the things I’ve done, and what I’ve learned, but I can’t stop worrying. Am I good enough? I still don’t have a clue. When I see someone else my age or, cringe, younger doing what I’m doing and doing it well, I start to panic a little bit. Why? Because I’m worried that they are better than me. I’m worried that they’ve figure it all out, and I haven’t.
Now, don’t mistake what I’m saying. I am happy to see other people doing well and working toward their goals. But I worry that I will get left behind. I get worried that because we aren’t on the same page, I’m not doing something right. I have this complex about not being the best, but that makes no sense because I know that I can’t be the best at everything.
My worry comes from the questions that are constantly swirling around in my head. How was it done? What did you do? How did you do it? Why? When? Where? The driving force inside me wants to know answers to every question I have. And sometimes, I feel like everyone else has the answers but me…
Grass is always greener on the other side, right?
Do I feel like I can’t do it? Of course I do. Actually, I’m still surprised when someone compliments me. I sure as shit don’t know how to take a compliment. It takes effort for me to just breathe and say, hey, you’re okay. What you’re doing is fine. Actually, I haven’t said that to myself today, so let me just take a moment here…
I don’t know what your struggle is, and you don’t know mine. But I’m happy for you. I need start taking things at face value, instead of trying to pull everything in and make it my struggle, my worry, my burden.
Maybe it’s because I haven’t shared with anyone in my life that I write. Shocked? I know. No one, and I mean no one knows that I write. Well, they know that I’m always in front of the computer, or scribbling on random pieces of paper (that’s how I get around writing in my notebooks), but they have no idea the actual amount of blood, sweat, tears and chunks of my soul that I have put into my writing. None.
My sister, for example is an English teacher. She would be the perfect person to ask about everything. I mean literally I’ve got a great resource at my disposal…have I asked her for help? Nope. Well, she has helped me fill plot holes, and she’s actually the one that helped me come up with how I’m going to continue the Distractions series, but she has no idea that I’ve written the Distractions series. Am I going to tell her? Nope. We’ve brainstormed abstractly. We just talk about things. But, she has no idea what I do. No one does.
Would she be happy for me, if I told her that people are actually reading my work, and (gasp) liking it? Maybe. But I know what she’d say and I know how she’d look at me. Would my friends understand? A couple of them would, but not all of them. The guys don’t even understand why I like to read physical books. I can just imagine the look of astonishment on their faces when they see that I’m writing them.
Maybe this is just the way I need to do things so that I can use it as momentum to keep me writing. When someone knows about the magic powers you have, it loses some of its luster. It’s not your power anymore. Other people want to share it and dissect it and talk about it, and tell you how to use it. Maybe this is the way it’s supposed to be. But maybe it’s not.
Whenever I think about my writing, and how I’m feeling about where I am in life, I think about the movie Orange County. Yes, the one with Jack Black and Colin Hanks. It wasn’t a great movie, by any stretch of the imagination, but one of the last lines in the movie always stuck with me:
“I was just up in my room thinking about Faulkner, and wondering, if he’d left the South, would he have ever written “Light in August”? Or what if James Joyce had left Ireland? I mean, he did leave Ireland, but not in his heart. See what I’m getting at? I don’t need to go to Stanford to be a writer. All I need are the people who inspire me…”
I started writing because there was something that I wanted to say. I started writing because I couldn’t find the books that I wanted to read…it doesn’t matter why I started, I’m not going to stop.
But I will say, I am happy for everything I’ve done to get to this point, even if no one else knows about it. And I’m happy for you, and all that you’ve done. Instead of comparing myself to you and others, I’m going to push myself. I’m going to set my own goals and then I’m going to smash them, even if I don’t think I can.