2020: Year of Resolves and Transformation

Click here to go straight to my 2020 New Year’s “resolves”!

It’s an interesting revelation to realize well into your adulthood that you are pretty much unchanged, personality-wise, from when you were a child. If you were neat as a kid, instinctively putting your toys away after playing, you probably still find sweet pleasure in maintaining that cleanliness in your home. If you were a bossy kid, always telling the rest of the neighborhood how to manage the kickball league in the street, you’re probably just itching to become manager in your current department at work.

As a child, I always appreciated the quiet and intimacy that nature and my closest loved ones provided. For example, when my family and I lived in Illinois up until I was nine, my mother would take my older sister and I into St. Louis, where we would visit one of the city’s most notable landmarks, Forest Park. I couldn’t have been more than five or six at the time (I could still fit in my stroller, though goodness knows my mother should have kicked me out by then), but I remember the long strolls we took through the winding pathways beneath ageless trees. The inherent silence of the area (my mother preferred off-peak park hours) as our footfalls padded upon the wide pathways and the wind nestled into the lush crowns above our heads, created a sense of security that I wished could last forever.

At the time I began this post, I was sitting before an artificial fireplace with a cat dozing to my right and my older sister crocheting in an armchair to the left, and I found the sentiment rising in me again. Over thirty years have passed since I last set foot (or stroller) into Forest Park, but the silence of my current stance and the company kept have not diminished my adoration for quiet moments. No TV blaring in the background; not even the pleasing trills of music. Just…quiet and good company.

2019: Last Looks

Reflection into the past naturally brings me into reflection of this year alone. Though I did set a few resolutions to give me structure and a sense of stability, that is a far cry from having any control on the outcome. I can be a very emotional, stress-influenced person: if I don’t set a plan or a schedule on how my life is supposed to proceed, I freak out and shut down. This results in no progress being made, sending me further into a panic.

That’s why my primary resolution for 2019 was to spend time with the people I love. Though the emotional toils of 2018 drove this decision, it could have been easy to make this priority almost mechanical. Hanging out with friends and calling family on a regular basis seemed simple enough.

But when the lives of your friends and your family are just as real and complicated as your own, you can’t simply tuck time to talk to them in whatever gaps are available. I also learned that just hanging out or talking more didn’t make me a better friend or daughter.

And then, something else happened that I didn’t expect.

My own life started to break down.

And then I broke down.

For a few months in, I tried to ignore my own physical symptoms–the exhaustion, the lethargy, the insomnia, the anxiety, the brain fog, the migraines–and forced myself to keep going.

Keep working. Keep giving. Keep helping. Keep nodding yes.

When Winston Churchill said famously, “When going through hell, keep going,” I’d like to think that he didn’t mean until you physically can’t get up. I certainly don’t think he meant stand at your desk, take a look at the To-Do List–filled with tasks you’ve done over and over again for years–and burst into tears because your head has been throbbing for nearly six months and you’re just so sick and tired of being sick and tired.

It’s a shame that it took half a year and a point where I was dizzy and near-fainting before I realized why. I was paying attention to everything but my own well-being.

The Turning Point

By mid-summer, I was visiting doctors, counselors, and therapists at least three times a week to figure out what was wrong. I was on heavy medications and getting bloodwork and CTs to find a deeper meaning to my ailments than simply psychological. It wasn’t until September that I finally received some kind of answer.

“Surgery?” Numbly, I held the phone to my ear as the physician’s assistant provided me with the vague results of my head CT. “It’s bad enough where I need surgery?”

The PA wouldn’t expand on her original instructions. “Just come into the office. You can discuss the procedural options with your surgeon then.”

When I arrived later that week for my appointment, the surgeon explained that most of my symptoms were a results of increasingly severe inflammation in my nasal cavities that had been growing worse over the last year–“and probably longer,” he said. This was the reason for many of my physical symptoms: my brain and body were literally being deprived of oxygen it needed to function normally. “Sounds like you just only started feeling the severity of everything this last year.”

Since I was no longer responding to any of the medications they were giving me, endoscopic surgery was the next best solution.


One month later, I lay on my couch with gauze strapped to my bloody nose. I was fully congested but forbidden to sneeze, blow my nose, or even sniff. My mouth was parched from hanging open every night in my attempts to sleep through the pain. Sufficed to say, I felt like all my symptoms of the last year had multiplied tenfold.

But even through my recovery, my 2019 resolution rose to occasion on its own in a way I hadn’t expected. Though I had felt too miserable to remember to check on my friends, they had been kind enough to check up on me.

In fact, they did more than just check up on me. As I lay prone, eating nothing but rice, bananas and chicken broth every day, so swollen internally I could only breath through my mouth, my loved ones came to me. My father stayed with me for a few hours after surgery while the anesthesia wore off, taking the “day shift” while one of my closest friends (who had volunteered to drive me to the hospital) took the night between her shifts at work. Friends dropped off groceries at my front door when I was too sick to even text them.

On my birthday, while I was still too nauseous and dizzy to even wear my glasses, the well wishes poured in through texts and Facebook notifications. I held four-hour phone calls with my mother. I even heard from old friends I hadn’t spoken to in years.

By the time I returned to work, even my coworkers–some I hadn’t thought even noticed that I was gone–lit up in smiles when they saw me enter the office. This notion surprised me–I had spent years living under a radar and assumed that not many people noticed me. I assumed that even less of them cared.

Appreciate Them, Appreciate You

After seeing the amount of people who reached out as I dealt with not only physical problems, but mental and emotional ones, too, I was struck with the amount of damage my low self-esteem and dismissive attitude has possibly done. How many friendships had I lost by assuming that people didn’t like me? How many people’s opinions did I unintentionally disrespect because it was faster and easier to believe that they were just being nice instead of actually saying something out of love?

If I wanted to truly show loved ones how much they mattered to me, I also had to believe how much I mattered to them.

Sound a little self-serving? It certainly did to me.

But, think about it like this:

How many times has someone complimented you, your clothes, a solution you gave in a meeting, or who you are in general?

What was your knee-jerk reaction to the compliment?

Did you wave it off in embarrassment?

Did you say, “Oh, I’ve gained so many pounds; it’s not fitting like it used to”?

Did you defer it to another person: “Oh, Joey mentioned the word ‘bootstrap’ earlier, so he was really the brainchild for it.”

Why did you blow the compliment off? To sound humble? Because you don’t feel like you deserve it?

Look at it from another angle. Instead of questioning why you said it for yourself, recognize that you just blew off someone’s verbal positivity in your direction. Someone literally tossed you a lovely gift, and instead of catching it, you slapped it away. Or, you caught it and immediately began criticizing the gift itself. Or, you caught the gift and, right in front of the person who gave it to you, gave it to someone else.

Accepting a compliment isn’t just allowing yourself to feel good. It’s receiving the person’s kindness towards you, letting it sink in, and appreciating to the full extent.

2020 New Year “Resolves”

Which brings us–finally!–to my 2020 resolutions.

Or–as I have determined to call them–my 2020 resolves.

As I do every year after Christmas day, I consult with my family and encourage them to set goals as we all march into the New Year. Years ago, they didn’t take this ritual nearly as seriously as I did. I don’t know if I had a direct effect on their changed minds, but they have commented on how incredible and fun-filled my last few years have been–and how they seem to be getting better and more fulfilling as each new one rolls around. Though 2019 was…a smidgen rough, I certainly can’t fault it on the level of activity or the lessons learned.

Regardless of the reason, I was immensely pleased when, as the New York Square New Year’s clock chimed past midnight on the TV, my family nestled themselves into a makeshift circle and took turns sharing our resolutions and goals for 2020.

Since I felt I had to pause my progress halfway through 2019, I’ve decided to stay on the current path of internal work and well-being. Though I do have New Year’s resolutions (concrete goals like achieving the splits or taking a dance class or finally gaining a voice-over agent), my main focus will be on my resolves–adjusting lifelong habits, emotional hangups, and overall life perspectives into more positive, assertive, productive, true-to-self manifestations. Focusing appreciation on my loved ones will continue, of course; however, I am also going to focus on improving my own self-esteem, well-being and mindfulness.

Novel, ain’t it?

In summary:

#1: Take Yourself More Seriously

For years, I often felt like not much was expected of me. This I felt on both a personal and a professional level. When I was busy victimizing myself (which I applied throughout my adolescence and 20s), I blamed my parents, my teachers and managers for this point of view–everyone but myself. Even worse, instead of choosing to defy this stigma, I played it up. I was loud and bouncy and perky all the time. I bumbled and pretended I couldn’t do things well, especially not the first time. I laughed at myself and acted like a silly ten-year-old well into my twenties.

Until I thought–why?

Why did I keep selling myself short? Why did I act like some silly, ditzy little girl all the time? It wasn’t me–at least, not all of me.

It’s been a defense mechanism I’ve used for years, but it’s not one that I want anymore. It no longer serves any purpose. It’s not fun. It’s annoying.

I’m ready to start blaming the one person who perpetuated this behavior in me–and I’m also ready to hold her accountable so that she never makes excuses for herself ever again.

The way I want to truly be will require me to cut the crap–something that should have been said and done a long, long time ago.

#2: Self-aware, Self Care, and Self Prepare

Funny what you notice once you start feeling better mentally, emotionally, physically.

What are a few things I noticed after my nose surgery?

  • Huh. My house is really dirty.
  • When did I accumulate all this clutter in my house?
  • Why am I nearly 40 and still never had a long-term romantic relationship?
  • When did I gain all this weight? Why do I feel so old?
  • Omigosh, I cut off a LOT of my hair last year.

These are all small things by comparison, but when you’re trying to succeed in the world of “adulting,” it’s when all the little things build up that can really make you feel out of sorts. So, now is as good a time as any to begin sorting through it all–both with the internal work and the external work.

I’ll touch on a few of the changes in future posts, but in the meantime–changes will definitely, definitely be made.

Do what you need to do to feel good about yourself, that brings you peace of mind.

#3: You Have a Choice

As I said in my last post last year, it’s easy to go through life on autopilot, living each day in a reactive way. But what would happen if we lived proactively? Just because we’re used to waking up and climbing out of bed on the right side, doesn’t mean we can’t try climbing out on the left side for once. What about the art classes or the dance classes you always wanted to take but never did? The smile you chose not to give the cute guy or girl, because you assumed they were out of your league?

When you choose not to do something because you assume you already know the results, that’s just it. You are assuming. You don’t know for sure. You assume you’ll be a horrible dancer. You assume your art will suck. You assume you aren’t attractive enough and will make a fool of yourself. But you don’t know. And you will never know the actual results until you freakin’ suck it up and try.

You have a choice to live life exactly the way you want to live it. You entered this world with yourself, and you will escort yourself out. Don’t you two deserve to have conscious control with what you want to do with it?

I certainly do. After 37 years of ignoring myself and assuming I was not pretty, talented, smart, good enough to do or be anything, I finally had another thought.

“I’ve spent enough time feeling like I’m not worth the time or energy. How would it look if I spent less time focused on my endless ‘faults,’ and more time turning my life into one that makes me feel happy, empowered and fulfilled?”

I don’t know the answer to this. But it sure will be interesting to find out.

Happy flippin’ new year, ya’ll. 🙂


Want to recap on my 2019 resolutions? Read my old post below!

Circling the Drain: When You Do Everything Except What You Want

I first thought of the phrase “circling the drain” when I was having lunch with a coworker sometime in the midst of 2017.  At the time, I didn’t think more of the phrase than how effective its analogy was for the point I was trying to make.  You know–some process wasn’t being done cuz so-and-so was dragging their collective feet:

“And they just keep circling the drain,” I finished, flopping back in my chair with the dramatic flair I adore so much.  My friend, to their credit, indulged my self-righteous tantrum with a grunt of sympathy.

“Circling the Drain” Gets Real

Later that year, while I was visiting my older sister during the holiday season, the phrase popped back into my head.  Her boyfriend at the time called to get advice on buying office furniture. She stepped out of the living room to take the call while I watched Superstore (good show, by the way.  Kind of like if Scrubs had been filmed Office-style…and set in Walmart.  But I digress.)

When she hung up and returned to the room, she looked puzzled.  “He found an office chair that he really wants,” she explained, settling down to continue crafting a model train she had received for Christmas.  “But it’s really expensive, so he’s not going to get it.”

“Oh,” I said.  I could kind of see his point.  It’s always daunting when you see a price tag you don’t expect.  “So, he’s just gonna wait and save up for it?”

“Nope.  He’s gonna get something cheap and smaller that is uncomfortable and hurts his back,” she declared.

“…Huh.”  It was the most sympathetic sound I could make.  

My sister shrugged with helpless exaggeration–full arm flail and big WTF eyes.  “All I know,” she said, “is that it took me years to find the dining table I wanted–but when I found it, I knew. And I didn’t buy anything until I did.”

Patience is a Virtue and Economical

My sister’s always been good like that–patience of a saint and the conviction of a…well, a saint.  I, however, have often been guilty of settling for something that was a mere fraction of the price of my true heart’s desire.

Because I really, really wanted it?

No.

Because I felt so much better leaving with something–something–rather than nothing.

Which means I’ve also run into the same problem as her boyfriend.  I’d buy the half-pricer that would not only look as cheap as it was, it would also break after a few uses.  Or worse, it wouldn’t work at the quality I desired (*gasp*), and I would resent the very site of it, leaving it to collect dust somewhere in the annals of my home.

So what would I do?

Since I’d already put out half the amount, I’d buy another cheap-quality item from another brand, hoping I would have better luck.  But often, it would also fail.

The pattern could go on a couple more times.  And then, miserable and frustrated when the fourth item fails, I’d have the most horrible revelation.

I’ve spent more money buying multiple cheap things than if I’d just bought the one expensive, high-quality thing first.

This phenomenon–afraid of taking the plunge into what you actually want, and instead finding lesser ways to defer the yearning inside of you–I have lovingly termed, “circling the drain.”

Taking the plunge–literally and figuratively–can help you escape the cycle of circling the drain and introduce you to adventure.

Ways To Circle the Drain

You don’t just “circle the drain” with material purchases.  This phenomenon is alive and well in many aspects of life.

Two of my lifelong loves are writing and singing.  I love doing both anytime, all the time. However, as I’ve grown older, I’ve found it necessary to narrow down what it is I actually want to do with both of these loves.

  • For writing?  I want to make a living writing and publishing fiction.  I have probably 5 fully developed plot lines running through my head.
  • For singing?  I want to create a band and perform for small venues, creating auras of warmth and intimacy for my listeners.  I love jazz and want to recreate the somber, intimate atmosphere that the genre’s heydays originally promoted.

Here’s the kicker…I made these revelations nearly 10 years ago.  Soooo…

Why are You Still Circling the Drain?

Well, that’s a great question.

Some common reasons for circling the drain:

  • Fear
  • Uncertainty
  • The work, time, and commitment needed to fulfill the goal can be overwhelming
  • Fear
  • Lack of confidence
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of success
  • Fear
  • Fear
  • Fear.

They may not be the best reasons, but they are my answer.

For writing, I resumed this blog to help regain momentum and strengthen my fiction writing.  And I have a job as a technical writer. And I wrote a manuscript about 4 years ago that I’m still editing.

And as for singing, I joined a choir last year!  Yeah!

…I mean, I had to quit because of the strain on my schedule, but still.

Stop Circling the Drain and Dive In

“Okay,” I hear you all saying.  “That’s great. You’re doing what you love.  But, are these activities actually helping you achieve the goals that you really want?”

I can scoff.  I can stutter.  I can sputter.

But your question raises an excellent point.

I’m doing things that are nearing the ballpark of what I love–which is an improvement of how I used to be.  However, even as I involve myself in these activities, there is still the anxiety and and the pull in the back of my mind. The little disappointed voice whispers in my ear, slightly shrill yet frail from years of mumbling:

“But, you still haven’t fully let go.”

But you know? That’s okay for now.  At least I am fully aware of the choices I’m making at this moment.

Because I know I’m not going to circle the drain forever.

When the moment comes–and I’ll know it, just like you will when you listen to how you’re feeling at the time–I will release and dive in.

And that will be a fun day for everyone.

With risk comes great rewards…

Social Anxiety: I Have a Mouth but I Can’t Scream

Speech.  Social anxiety’s worst enemy.

Talk. Chat. Socialize.  Comment.  Network. Complain. Yell.  Argue.  Discuss.  Brief. Debrief.

In the English language alone, there are thousands of words set aside for describing every type of verbal expression.

So where does that leave someone who struggles with socializing?


In just over a month’s time, I will be attending the OYW 2018 Leadership forum.  This honor was imbued (teehee–love that word) upon me by my current manager at my job, and I couldn’t be more pleased, excited, and ecstatic to attend.

Yesterday, however, the OYW administrators emailed the agenda of activities and the option to sign up for workshops.

Great!  I thought, opening the email and scanning through the list.  I’d been wondering what we would be doing each da—

And that’s when I read it.  The statement nestled between every other timeslot for all the days.

Networking with fellow delegates.

Networking with delegates.

Networking with.

Networking.

Networking.

NETWORKING.

Speaking Is Golden

It is my understanding (and numerous observations) that people like to talk.  That a lot of people talk a lot. Some of these people are good at talking.  Some of them…enjoy talking, even if they don’t have the most accurate of words to express themselves.

Of course, speaking is only half of it.  The other half is being able to approach strangers on the street, at a party of unknowns, in the mall or at a festival.  People don’t make them nervous.  They don’t think of the worst (albeit oftentimes unrealistic) possible scenarios if their communicative tactics are off the game.

Despite my struggles now, I didn’t have much trouble socializing as a child.  In fact, my mother has told me that I was rather confrontational.  When my older sister and I were under 10 years old, I would get in the faces of any naysayers who dared to put her off.

I had friends in elementary school, and we interacted enough where everyone had a chance to talk on equal ground.  No one dominated. We said what we needed to say and moved on.

  • Kid:  B!
  • Me:  Yeah?
  • Kid:  You’re It!
  • Me:  No, I’m not!
  • Kid:  Yeah, you are. I tagged you!
  • Me:  No, you didn’t!
  • Kid *chases me; tags me* Now you’re definitely It.
  • Me: Fine.  *resumes game*

Nice, isn’t it?  It’s simple, straightforward, easy to follow, and easy to understand.  Kids don’t mince words, not to themselves or with adults.  If they have something to say, they say it without leading up to it.

As adults, many of us lose that ability.  Society dictates that it’s wrong to just approach someone and tell them what you want without using some generic lead-in to create a sense of politeness, concern, and niceties.

Aka…small talk.

  • Adult:  Good morning, B!
  • Me:  Good morning!  How are you?
  • Adult:  Good!  How are you?
  • Me *deep inside my mind*:  Honestly?  I’ve felt like crap for the last three days, and it’s too cold on this floor. I could seriously pass out right now.  If I do, leave me on the floor.  I don’t care who sees me.
  • Me *in reality*:  I’m good, thank you.
  • Adult:  Did you have a good drive in to work?
  • Me *in my mind*:  No; my SUV was T-boned, so I decided to walk the rest of the 10 miles here.  I’m like the Unbreakable man; nothing touches me!   Lawl!
  • Me *in reality*:  Not bad!  Little traffic.  Oh, and the stoplights were out.
  • Adult:  Omigosh, I saw that!  Took me twice as long to get here!

Nine times out of ten, this conversation is nothing more than to ask Mr./Mrs. Adult if he/she can check in the flippin document on the shared web space, or invite him/her to a long overdue meeting.

The Rise of Social Anxiety (aka WTF Happened)

Somewhere between the playground and the office space, meeting new people made me anxious.  Not all people, necessarily, and not anxious all the time.  But there was certainly a difference in eyeing up bullies in my youth, to wanting to work alone through lunch.

The change is most noticeable between college graduation and landing my full-time first job as an English teacher.  I like to call this time The Age of WTF Happened.

It’s not an elegant title.  But then again, neither was that age.

I’ve touched on similar moments in various posts, from my desire to find escape to unintentionally “hermiting” myself three years ago.   To keep the story short here, the WTF Happened age was a time when I truly doubted myself among strangers–not only with my abilities, but with my very personality.

Even as I sit here on my lunch break, looking around at the people scattered across the courtyard, everyone is talking.  In pairs, in trios, in groups; even the people sitting solitary are pacing the walkways chatting on their phones.

Yep–the average person loves to talk.  And that’s great!

But…it’s just not me.  And trying to make myself feel that way, only makes me feel worse.

My strength of expression is not in speaking.  Even if it was as a child, it isn’t anymore. I’m not the person who formulates a quick idea and has it ready in the middle of an important meeting.  I’m not the one who walks up to every stranger in a party, hand extended and smile gleaming.

But I know if I want to achieve certain goals in my life…If I want to give good interviews as my acting and voice acting careers expand…if I hope to introduce myself and get to know whatever man will be the love of my life…if I want the OYW Forum to go well and gain many powerful connections…

I have to be ready to socialize–social anxiety be durned.

Social Anxiety ≠ Nervous

I can hear those reading this who might not have ever suffered from social anxiety, thinking, “B, relax.  We all get nervous in front of new people.  You just gotta suck it up and keep doing it until it becomes habitual. You’re gonna feel so much better once you’ve done it.  So–do it.”

And I repeat–I will do it.  To get where I want to be in life, I have to.

But the sigh of relief and exuberance in the way you probably expect me to feel once I’ve crossed that bridge will not always arise.  If it does, it won’t always be for the reasons you’re thinking.

The shaky hands, urge to hide away and cry out my stress, and the necessity to surround myself with the things that would never wish to see me scared or hurt, will arise.  The shame that certainly, I said the dumbest things ever and not only am I disrespected, but probably boring, will flood me at the most inopportune times.

And this will repeat inside every time I do it.

It’s mostly illogical thoughts, yes.  But it doesn’t stop the very real, physiological reaction. The repetition just makes the aftermath easier to anticipate and prepare for.

That is the difference between social anxiety and nervousness.  At least it is for me.

What Social Anxious People Want

A person who has never suffered from social anxiety cannot understand how much a person who has, want so badly to not only express themselves, but to express themselves and enjoy the experience of expression.  They want to tell their favorite joke and watch their audience burst into bright, admirable laughter as they gaze on in respect.

They want to disagree with someone and not expect the world to charge down on their heads.

They want to tell someone, “Hi, I’m B,” and reach out their hand–and happily anticipate the cheery response: “Hi, B!”

They want to walk in a crowd and not have the crowd overwhelm their every pore.

The closeness.

The body heat.

The chatter from all directions.

The shuffling to nowhere.

The expressions on everyone’s faces.  The impatient ones. The angry ones. The exhausted ones.

The anxious ones.

They want a moment when social anxiety is not on their minds.

Defying Social Anxiety

For me, I have two moments when social anxiety is a distant thought.

One is when I’m writing.

The other is when I’m performing.

Once I had a co-worker and fellow introvert double-take on me when I showed him my recent live voice acting performance in the radio drama The Blood Crow Stories.  “So, you had no problem performing in front of all those people?” he said.

I thought about it for a second.  “No, not really.”

He himself paused, to reflect on my answer.  At last, he looked me sincerely in the eye and asked, “What makes performing not affect your anxiety, versus being in a party?”

Good question.

My answer:  I am able to hide some of my weaker natures from the crowd.  At the same time, I am giving every essence of my soul to offer a quality presentation, thus leaving myself much more vulnerable than I could ever be at a party starting a conversation with “Hi.”

If my performance sucks, the crowd will tell me.  If they like me, they will tell me.  But I will know immediately where I stand.  It’s the sweet simplicity of childhood all over again.

I feel stronger when I am not speaking–at least, when I am not speaking in the conversational sense.  Oh, I will happily hold an in-depth, spiritual conversation with a person one-on-one (that’s the introvert in me).  However, if I want to introduce my true self to a group of people, they will see it so much faster and fuller if it is in the setting of performer vs. audience.

Performance.  My writings.  Music and art.  Eye contact.  Touch.  Presence. 

The rare and elusive comfortable silence.

These are the communications I cherish.

The famous saying goes that you know you’ve met a true friend when you can sit in comfortable silence with them.  This is what I seek in the people who will stay in my life for many seasons.

Because on the days when my social anxiety flares up and affects even them, they will hardly notice.

Because I’ve already “greeted” them in my own way.  And they’ve “greeted” me.

And in this Tag life, we can play the rest of the game together.

Writing Is…

Writing is a lot of things.  Everyone has a different relationship with writing; I hardly hear a middle ground when the question of “Do you like to write?” pops up.

This blog post is an ode to writing and what it has meant to me throughout my life.

Writing Is…

Fun

When I was ten years old, I often fought with my parents.  After disputing something I’m sure was trivial that I was absolutely right about, I would run to my room, flop onto my bed, and think angrily, “If I had magic powers, I could just do whatever I wanted.”

After enough fights (and there were a lot), a revelation finally clicked in my head.  I may not have magic powers in reality, but I could write a story about what I could do if I did. In fact…I could write about anything.

The realization was intoxicating.  Here was something that couldn’t get me in trouble (erm, I was young and naive), and no one could take it away from me.  I could travel to different worlds, create my own, and be as important or as cool as I wanted. Over time, I pulled myself out of the story and made characters who stood without me, but it was still (and always would be) my private sanctuary.

Releasing

Depression.  Anxiety.  Despair.  Rage.  Hope.  Boredom.

Secrets.  Confessions.  Clarification.  Purging.  Reminders.

Bad work days.  Extraordinary personal days.  New loves. Love potentials.  Lost loves.  Unrequited loves.

Writing has been my confidante, my companion.  It has been my steady, my constant.  No matter what has come into my life or left me, I have always been able to turn to a journal and sketch out what I was feeling.  Even if I can’t directly push the words out of my mouth, there are other words that will speak for me on paper or screen, until I’m ready to say what I truly mean.

Hard

A few years ago, I worked as a website copywriter for a telecommunications company.  The company’s weekly quota was to complete advertisement copy for 10 standard small-business websites, or content for 5 deluxe websites.

There were about 30 writers on the team at the time.  Most of them were clever enough to start with reused text base, changing keywords to match the necessary industry.  Being one of excessively creative talent (/sarcasm), I tended to do things the hard way: writing each copy anew.  With this method, it was much more difficult to reach the quota each week.

I don’t know if it was my HSP or introvert tendencies to overthink every single word I recorded, but I am a slow writer.  Not only that, but the words that I want to use don’t often come to me immediately.

Then, of course, there is the proper intonation to consider.  Writing “no” to different parties must be formulated based on their background:

  • To a child: No.
  • To a boyfriend:  Nooooo! ;-P <3 <3
  • To a customer:  Unfortunately, we will not be able to accommodate you at this time.
  • To an executive:  While this is may require more looking into, we have other promising options.

Now, apply that principle to fiction.  To nonfiction. To manufacturing plant manuals.  To scientific journals. Add in research and organization and length and whether you want it to be funny, and…

And now my brain hurts.  Moving on.

“Not Writing”

“I’m going to write in my story,” my sister T said, and I looked up from typing on my own computer in time to see her recline in her lawn chair and cover her face with a woven pillow.

“I thought you said you were writing,” I said.

“I am,” she mumbled, and sighed a heavy sigh of contentment.

The great thing about writing?  You can do it any time, at all times.  It may seem to others that you’re doing nothing, but who cares?  You’ve finally figured out that plot hole that’s been nagging you for months as you cooked dinner.  Or you now have a name for your main character as you were commuting to work.

Even when a writer is not writing, they are certainly writing.

Me

Everyone has seen at least one of the “You’re Not Yourself” commercials from Snickers.  If you haven’t, here’s a classic example:

While lack of food will definitely turn me into a confrontational Golden Girl, not writing in any form produces the same effect.  Twenty-five years of using my imagination to develop fictional worlds, whether I’ve released them for public viewing or not, is a fully integrated part of me.  When I’m not writing (even “not writing” writing), I become irritable and listless. It’s like being apart from a dear friend.

Regardless of your relationship with writing, I will always be a proponent of re-exploring it every now and again.  It may not be your favorite activity, but at least it will help you know just what writing means for you.

What is the one word that describes writing for you?