So what happened was I decided that if I was going to be a writer I needed to stop talking about it and just do it.
So I looked around, wrote a few emails, and to my surprise for an offer from a company to work for them as a freelance writer. They asked me for a sample of my work, and I sent them a couple of blogs and articles I’ve written. Then they asked me to write them an article about university life.
Perfect. I know a lot about that. I’ve had some interesting experiences and learned a lot. I’d be more then happy to share this knowing with anyone else who wants to know.
I had a week to write the article and send it in. Mind you, I wasn’t being paid for this, yet. This was still part of the application process. In my mind, the make or break point. It was my opportunity to prove myself, to prove that i can write to deadlines, write efficiently and well, use an engaging tone and choose relevant subject matter. It was my chance to finally do what I’ve always said I was going to do, and write something. Something real.
And I just couldn’t do it.
I don’t know what happened. Actually I do. I blame writers block but it’s not that. It’s that, at the end of the day, being very honest with myself, and I’m not saying this to evoke sympathy or be self-pitying, but I’m not a very good writer. I’m okay at it. But I’m also okay at cooking, okay at singing. I’m okay at a lot of things, but far away from being good at anything. I chose writing as a future profession because I like making up stories, but confession time, I’ve never been any good at writing them down. They’re all there in my head, with detailed plots and characters that feel so real to me, but when it comes to committing them to paper, I get impatient. I lack the skills. I lack the clarity of thought.
Anyway, back to the article.
This article was a slap in the face, because try as I might, and believe me, I fucking tried, I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t get the words onto the page. They wouldn’t stick. They were sloppy, they were messy. They sounded wrong. They were structured horribly. My tone was awful, fake and nasty and grating. They read as self-indulgent, arrogant, lazy, and horribly horribly vague.
I hit my deadline and gave up. I just couldn’t do it.
I felt horribly disappointed in myself. I felt like screaming, kicking and punching and grinding my teeth. I felt like a loser, like a failure. I felt like a fake. So much for a being a writer. I had a week to write a 400 word article and I just couldn’t do it. I felt like I’d been lying to everyone, kidding myself into believing this was something I could do. I felt like never attempting to write again.
And just as I hit rock bottom, in a swelling, suffocating cloud of self-indulgent misery…
There’s no not cheesy way to say this. It felt like I got so angry and frustrated and utterly angry with myself, that all that energy just burned out and I was left with nothing left to feel angry with.
And a tiny little voice appeared. And it was very gentle. And it said, “It’s okay.”
It’s okay I couldn’t write the article. And more importantly, most importantly, it’s okay to be kind to myself.
Kindness. What a concept. It felt kind of like a bruise. I haven’t been kind to myself in a very, very long time.
I’m one of those people who flinches away from hugs, who claims to hate being touched. I don’t like compliments. I see the failure and negative in every interaction and situation. If someone says I’ve done well, I always take it as pity.
I’ve never been able to appreciate kindness, because I never, ever, not once in the past ten or so years, have felt like I deserved it.
I tend to take things going wrong as personal failure. I tend to get very angry about these things. Earlier in the year, I briefly saw a councillor but stopped because I decided it was pathetic for someone as well off and lucky as myself to be doing something so self-indulgent and narcissistic as seeing a councillor. But before I stopped going, the guy said something that’s stuck in my mind ever since.
He described this kind of anger, this refusal to accept any kind of positivity towards myself, as a kind of “scathing self assessment”. Scathing. Scathing. It’s the word that sticks, I think. It’s the perfect word. That’s exactly what this feels like. Like a burning hot fire. Like the urge to scrub off my skin whenever anyone touches me gently.
But it wasn’t until I hit rock bottom and just burned out, completely burned through to my core, that the simply solution suddenly seemed, if not possible, that at least it made sense.
It is okay to be kind to myself.
I still twitch away from it. But that’s the truth. Why default to being a failure, to being ugly, to being useless and worthless and awful? Why is it so damn hard to just let this shit go? To feel good about myself? To see failures not as failures, but as setbacks. As lessons to learn from?
Setbacks happen. My inability to write this article was a setback. And setbacks are going to keep on happening and happening, until they don’t. The only way to reach that point is by not giving up.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m sick of feeling overwhelmed and ugly and impossible and like a fraud. I’m tired of flinching. I’m tired of blaming myself for everything, and tired of having to burn out over and over again just to survive.
I don’t know if I’m fully a believer yet, but I’m determined to get there.
It’s okay to be kind to yourself. That’s the truth.