"So what do you do?""...it’s kinda hard to explain.""Because what you do is complicated?""...because I don’t really do it."— Frances Ha, 2012
I have been feeling a bit like a fraud lately.
I thought it was school. I really, really did. I thought that was what was making everything heavy. Once exams were over, I could rest my mind and the words would come. Once exams were over, the knots in my neck would ease and I could sit at a computer screen without wanting to scratch my eyes out. Once exams were over, my mind would settle, my thoughts would form properly and I could actually be relaxed and write again.
But it's been well over a month and the words weren't really arriving.
Writing has always felt like coming home to myself; it has always helped me make sense of what is going on. It is a way to teach me how to make every emotion tangible in some way.
Writer is what I call myself. It's the thing that I believe defines me. It's the word written in all of my bios on various social media networks. But I haven't published anything on this little space on the web since the end of March, with the last piece called Changing of the Seasons.
The optimism I had when writing something felt like it was on the tip of my fingers awaiting to be embraced. Everything was starting to feel exciting and fresh and new and I felt ready to step into all of it and let it take over. A few days after I published that, I had a few setbacks. Some so tiny that others would say they should be irrelevant, but in addition to the large setbacks they seemed like mountains. All of a sudden there wasn't really much to look forward to. I watched as all of those new and exciting things slipped away from my fingertips.
For some time afterwards, I wasn't very interested in writing. I felt really exposed. This has always been a place where I could be a bit of a vulnerable mess without anyone really saying anything about it. But then I thought about people who are just meeting me for the first time and how easily I could be written off as being too emotional, too dramatic, and my personal favourite: too much.
If there is one thing I hate more than not finding words, it is being too much for other people.
The thought of it made me want to cover myself up and hide. The fact that someone could read what I've written and write me off completely did not sit well with me. It felt like when teacher's used to read your work over your shoulder while at school, leaving you paralyzed in fear that what your writing is total shit. I made this little space private and hid for a little while and took time writing in journals instead, even though I still felt major writer's block and I felt like a fraud. Calling myself a writer but not being able to write? What a joke. Not posting anymore on my blog because of the fear of being too much for other people and knowing they can judge me before even speaking to me? Horrifying.
Naturally, I did what anyone in this situation would do: I cried a lot.
And then I did the next thing someone would do in this situation: speak to a friend who is much smarter than I am. I sent her frantic texts throughout the past few months that can be summed up in two questions: Am I really this thing that I say I am when I don't really do it lately? and Why am I so afraid of being too much for people?
Her response? Just like fishermen are still fishermen even if they don't fish every day, you're still a writer.
I can give myself time to just be with my thoughts. I don't need to be where others are or adhere to a schedule to make progress. Some days I will want to write by the lake and other days it will be a chore to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys). Sometimes I will feel incredibly small and inferior to others who seem to be progressing so much faster, but I will get there on my own time. I won't feel like I need to hastily grasp at things that seem good before they disappear. I am teaching myself to embrace progress as it comes. There is no final destination. At the end of the day, I write because it makes me feel better. I need to remember that the words will come when they are ready. When I am ready.
And when it comes to being too much for other people, I think about this interview with Lorde where she states:
“It is a difficult thing, the relationship between writing about people and knowing them. Loving them. But it comes with the package. Because, y’know, make no mistake about who I am.”
My smart friend reminded me that the people who are worth it will not only understand, but would want me to embrace every facet of myself without fearing that I am being too much. Anyone who cannot handle my too-muchness is not worth it if it means hiding away bits and pieces of myself to make them comfortable.
This is who I am. Take it or leave it.