I’ve been meaning to start this blog for the last two years. There are a lot of things in my life that I’ve put off for hours, days, weeks, months, years. Some of them I eventually get to. Some of them stay in the back of my mind to this day. And some of them get stolen right from under me. I’ve been meaning to get back to writing for a long time. I used to write a lot – short stories, long stories that never got finished, many, many journals… Ever since binge watching has become popular, I’ve missed those times in my life where I should have been spending more time being creative. In the long subway rides and bike rides that make up my time in New York City, I find myself often evaluating and disentangling my day or a topic in a way that lends itself to the written word. And so, perhaps now is the time to return a bit of my time to that simplest form of expression.
It comes in waves – the ability to do work. It’s been this way my whole life. I’ve always been really good at doing the things when it was time to do the things. But when it comes to planning, prepping, organizing…I just find it difficult to motivate myself. When I was in school, I rarely spend the “normal” amount of time on any kind of homework or project. In highschool, I did my homework the morning it was due – sitting in the band hallway, frantically scribbling. I don’t remember ever studying for tests in any real way. But I also never raised my hand if I thought I might be wrong. So even when I thought I was right, unless I was sure, I didn’t try. Being wrong meant that I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was. I have no idea where this thought came from. Because, really, I was a smart kid. I’m a smart adult. But I never had to try.
I didn’t practice for my audition to be a marching band Drum Major (which is also certainly why I wasn’t one). I don’t really remember practicing either of my musical instruments even though I sat first chair in the Wind Ensemble and led the clarinet section of the Marching Band. I auditioned and successfully joined the highest choir as well in my Junior year. I was just…good. Looking back on these things, it makes me wonder how good I could have been if I had really tried.
Sports were…similar. I loved them. I loved playing the game. I even loved practice (most of the time). But I never went the extra mile unless someone went with me. My best friend in elementary school and I used to run with the cross country team so we could stay in shape in the off-season of basketball. But when I was playing in high school, I never went to the gym. Marching Band was my gym credit and no one ever convinced me it was worth my time to fit gym time into my schedule. Again – I was pretty good at my sports just thru practice. A decent sized fish in a pretty small pond. But it felt like enough at the time.
Small ponds don’t have a lot of room to move around in. But it was always still a competition for me. Competition breeds progress. This is why the life of an artist is difficult for me. Competition doesn’t exist so much in this world. And I don’t want to compete for the top of the food chain. People have told me that I’m good at the design things. And I believe them. I think I’m really good at it. But I’m still bad at pushing myself to do the things that would set me apart from the herd. In grad school, I actually did a lot of research for my thesis. I read a lot of things. But I could have expanded more. I had a lot of ideas, but it was difficult for me to execute them. I couldn’t figure out how to break thru the terror of doing a bad job. I was basically spending all of my time convincing myself that if what I produced wasn’t good enough, then I shouldn’t do it anyway. And then not trying anything. Which meant that I couldn’t practice to get good enough.
So – here I am – a 34…34?…yes, 34 year old woman, finally practicing at something that I have always seemed to be pretty good at. I haven’t written anything substantial in over five years. The only somewhat extensive pieces I’ve done have been while walking on the Appalachian Trail. I have received excellent feedback on those words and hope that maybe I can transfer that over into these “real life” words as well. But it means setting aside time. It means practicing. It means that some of these posts will be bad. It means I have to be OK with that. It means I have to allow some of it to be wrong. But it also means that I will probably get better – if I try to get better. If I write these posts with the criticism that I write professional emails and text messages to people I have crushes on, there’s a chance I can move forward on at least this one thing in my life. Who knows – maybe from here, I’ll have the courage to look back at other projects and give them another shot.