You know what, I’m cooped up at home on a Friday night, my housemates both in separate rooms, wondering what to do next on my never ending task list.
I’m nearing the end of an 8-week creative non-fiction writing course, that has not only taught me all the things I don’t know about writing, but has worn me down with a mountain of assignments and reading tasks. I should be reviewing the work of my peers and reading about lyrical essays and mixed media. But I can’t. I just want to write without intent, or style, or consideration of a beginning, middle, or an end.
I’m writing tonight because I want to. To rid myself of that feeling of being under-qualified, or as my friend Chrissy so rightly put it, a complete literary fraud. I’m going back to the form I know and the voice I’m familiar with. There’s been a lot on my mind that I’ve wanted to communicate, so I’m writing because it feels liberating.
The writing course, of course, has been incredibly insightful none-the-less. I’ve learned to express myself in eloquent metaphors, but I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process. I’m one of the least creative, creative people I know, and I put it down to a life full of efficiency. I eat the same foods, wear the same combinations of clothing, and try to use every second of every day productively. I don’t take time to soak in the details, use clever language or colourful prose. I want to get my messages across succinctly, so I can move onto the next assignment before the next.
It sounds awful, but even when I’m not doing something it’s because I’ve scheduled time to do nothing – like meditate, or fold laundry, or speak to my housemates because it’s socially required. My life is one calculated move after the next, but it’s essentially what drives me. There’s nothing worse than an unproductive me.
The interesting thing is that I recently found my breaking point. The moment when I realised I’d tied myself in so many knots, I could no longer undo them all.
I experienced this in a number of ways; increased anxiety, inability to focus, moments where I’d burst into unexpected tears wondering what the hell was wrong with me. My life had become a series of tasks, and if I didn’t get them done I was failing.
The problem was overselling myself. There wasn’t enough time to do everything. But instead of prioritising, I just continued to steamroll ahead. Like a deflated balloon in much need of air, I began to sink instead of breathing.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned this year is that I’m not perfect, and that’s okay. Though I’m a strong independent woman, admitting that I need help has made me feel more empowered than I’ve ever been.
I’d always viewed help as a sign of weakness. I want to do everything I can on my own. But it’s amazing what happens when you accept vulnerability. Reaching out is often harder than going it alone.
So if I were to extrapolate a theme from this, as my writing coach would insist I do, I’d say it’s about accepting that I’m human. And instead of juggling life’s demands while sitting at my desk on a Friday night, I’m going to celebrate humanity instead, by setting aside time to share this story.