Tag Archives: Self-Reflection

My Gut Tells Me To Apologize For Writing This (But I’m Not Going To)

Apparently, I apologize a lot.

I’m not just talking about when I actually need to; when I’ve messed up and I need to own up to my own mistakes. I’m talking about all the time. The phrase “I’m sorry” is apparently one of the main elements in my lexicon, to the point that I hardly even notice how often I use it; how that phrase encompasses and follows every aspect of my life. I’ll apologize for what I just said. How I act. What I think. Things out of my control. I never realized how often I apologized, until a friend of mine snapped, “Damn, quit saying “you’re sorry” all the time.” His snap caught me off guard and I’m sure, the intuitive human that you are, you guessed how I responded. Instinctively, without a blink.

“Sorry,” I muttered.

And he just stared at me, his expression the very definition of incredulous as he responded, “Seriously?”

But it’s not just the phrase “I’m sorry” that reflects how often I apologize. I’ll say things like, “Sorry to bother you, but…” or “I don’t mean to distract you,” or “I know I’m burdening you, however…”. The most ironic thing? I usually say these things when I’m texting someone. When we’re simply talking. I never realized how often I did this, because it was so instinctual; a reflex, more than anything else.

Now that I notice, I see how harmful it is.

I’ve always struggled with my own opinion of myself, but I’ve grown and made a lot of strides in loving myself. Yet this is a very clear sign that there are still some negative thoughts and opinions rooted deep, expressed by my apparent need to apologize for my own existence (because now that I’ve noticed it, I apologize for everything). I know I’ve never had a lot of confidence, but it really shows here.

Which is sad, because I should have a little confidence. I should believe in myself more than always feeling the need to apologize for things that, half the time, I’m not even actually sorry for or ashamed about. Instead, subconsciously, I feel like I should be, hence the apology, e.g., That text was more than two lines, so obviously you’re being too much of a burden. Apologize. You’re wanting to talk about something that’s been on your mind and it’s taking up a lot of their time, so obviously you’re bothering them. Apologize. You’re eating pop-tarts they specifically bought for you because you’re hungry and they offered. Apologize. You sneezed. Apologize. 

I hope you’re catching my drift, here.

It’s a bit ridiculous, to be honest.

I’m not saying I need to become this cocky arsehole that is full of herself, but I do owe myself a bit more confidence that this meek, apologetic projection that I put off. I actually really like who I am. I like my quirks and my naivety (lack of street smarts) and my nerdiness and my traditionalist mindset and my positivity and everything else in-between. So why am I constantly apologizing for it, especially subconsciously? Not only am I doing a disservice to myself, projecting a person that I don’t want to be, but it’s also exhausting and at times, infuriating, to those who have to listen to the apologies the most. They shouldn’t have to constantly reaffirm their good opinions of me or remind me that it’s okay, I actually didn’t do anything wrong and the apology is unnecessary. Instead, that affirmation should come from within me. I should know that I’m not burdening my friends when I want to talk. I should know that when I’m texting someone and having a conversation, I don’t have to apologize for blocks of text. Hell, we’re actually just doing what friends do: communicating. So what if my humor is a little weird and my interests are a lotta nerdy? I should take pride in those things. Always.

So I’m glad I realized that this is an area of improvement that I can focus on; a lingering effect from all those years of me hating myself and thinking–and believing–too many toxic lies about myself. I know I’ll still apologize for a lot of unnecessary things, but now I can at least actively work on it as I continue to strive to love myself in every aspect and capacity. Thanks for listening, friends. (<–Last line written after backspacing a sentence apologizing for the need to write this post in the first place.)

Cheers.


Teeter-Tottering

Shit got emotionally real with yesterday’s post, The Soft Craving, where I talked about my belief that I’m going to be eternally single, how my desires are the exact opposite of that and I questioned why this juxtaposition is even happening in the first place.

Today, I want to talk about why I’m going to be okay, even if this proves true and I turn out to be the dog lady I always tell people I will be.

This turn around, this emotional bounce back, this teeter-tottering between being completely distraught that I’m going to be alone to being content with my singleness, does not erase the craving that I so distinctly feel. Hell, I definitely still feel that. I will always feel that, until I find that connection that I dream about.

But that doesn’t mean that craving needs my complete attention.

I’ve had a whirlwind of a past month, emotionally, as I started talking to a gent I met online. We went on a couple dates. I was kissed for the first time. And things were going fantastically. We connected on so many levels. I could talk to him so easily. And then…nothing. He ghosted. Of course, my insecure brain kept pointing to every instance of where I potentially messed up, when I said something wrong, when I was being too real, too honest, too intense. Yet those insecurities kept butting heads with everything that was going right and I was left in this pit of confusion and drowning in this fear that when I finally started to trust that I would be able to experience the beginning of what I’ve always dreamed of having, I would lose it. And then I did. And I still don’t understand it, not fully. But I can’t change it, so there it is.

This past weekend, as the last blog post attests, I was pretty down in the dumps. Honestly, I don’t think I truly was able to process and make this emotional turn around until I did two things: write that post and run this afternoon. Somehow, I remembered some things that I’ve always known, between the two: that I can be happy, even if alone. That there are so many aspects of my life that I already enjoy and love and cherish and I can still feel that way even if those aspects would be heightened if I had someone to share them with. And the advice that people had been giving me, that I had written off because it didn’t seem to make sense, suddenly did.

It’ll happen when you least expect it. When you’re just at the point of giving up, that’s when the magic happens.

I’ve always wanted to reject that advice, because a weird part of me felt that by giving up on the hope of finding someone, I was giving up on love. And love is what I believe in most. I was also apprehensive to not actively search for love, because how else would I meet people? What if by not searching, I missed out on finding someone and then I blink, and suddenly I’m 60 with four dogs and never found anyone because I never put myself out there?

And yet…

When I was talking to Sir Ghost, I was so insecure. I thought this kid was so out of my league and I was so focused on saying the right thing and over-analyzing everything. It was honestly exhausting. And it shouldn’t have been that exhausting. I should have been more trusting in myself, in my own worth, and more trusting in him and his words surrounding his interest (even if he disappeared despite such claims). Perhaps, with a bit more confidence, our ending could have been different. Regardless, despite the darkest days where I actually trick myself into believing I’m not worthy of love and being loved, that’s actually false. I am worthy. And I should believe that.

So.

After a shit-ton of reflection, asking advice from so many people and thinking about my desire to live this upcoming year fearlessly, I’m sitting here with a renewed hope and a renewed plan, for as much as you could plan for life. I want love. Of course that’s true. Of course I’m tired of being lonely. But I also need balance. I need self-love. I need to know, without a doubt, that my happiness isn’t tied to my relationship status. I need to choose and work at happiness, every day, as I’ve always believed, but had forgotten, pining after someone who had no interest in me.

So I’m going to work on me. I’m going to do things that I love: write, read, blog, game, edit. I’m going to work on improving my insecurities, especially physically. I’m going to keep running and start challenging myself to improve. I’m working on my damaging mindset I have about myself, shutting it down until such a mindset is only a memory. I’m going to continue to get tattoos and stop fearing that my love for ink is going to prevent me from finding the love of my life. Because that’s just not true. I just might treat myself a little more, too. I may splurge on a new outfit or getting my hair done more often than I have in the past, i.e., never. I gave myself permission to do both, before my date and surprisingly, they also made me feel really good. I wouldn’t mind feeling that way more often, even if it tightens my bank account that much more.

Does this refocusing mean that there won’t be nights where I throw all of this by the wayside and just want to be loved? Of course not. I teeter-totter between being confident and content being alone and craving so longingly to be loved all the time. Welcome to human emotions, friends. And though I want to focus on myself now and have faith that my man exists, is out there somewhere and somehow, we’ll find one another, eventually, I’ll put myself out there again, if I don’t stumble upon him. I’m still not completely sold on the “when you least expect it, it will happen” philosophy. But first, I want to love myself as fully as I am able; focus on knowing myself and appreciating that woman as much as I can. Perhaps by then, the universe will be ready to allow me to experience a love that people write novels about.

And if it doesn’t, then at least I have discovered how to love and find worth in myself in the process.

Cheers.


The World Ahead…

Friends! Today* is my birthday!

Birthdays are crazy things, especially as you get older. I turned 24. My age is only reflected in the amount of bills I owe and the amount of “real world job experience” I have on my resume, as physically, some people still mistake me for a high school student (why? just why?), emotionally, I have the spirit of a Grandma while most of my interest and hobbies will always remain in the realm of a teenage gamer. But, the reality of it is it, I was born in 1992, 24 years ago. And it has me all contemplating.

Naturally, another year older, I looked back at the year I lived as a 23 year old. It was definitely a crazy, emotional and eventful year for me: graduated from college; went to grad school; move out of state; dropped out of grad school; moved back home; wrote four books; read hundreds more; became a more dedicated gamer; got my first post-college job; got my first apartment and the bills that follow it; became a bit more introverted and a little bit more of a loner as an adult. So many life changes, so many adventures, so many challenges, so many regrets, so many memories, so much happiness and heartbreak and stress and relief.

Of course, now that my birthday’s over, I’m thinking about what the future year might bring and I am utterly clueless. How many jobs will I end up working? Will I advance in my career or stay stagnant? How many books will I write? Will I query at all? Will I become represented? Will I renew my lease or have a change of scenery? Will I fall in love? Will my dreams come true? Will I cry myself to sleep? Will I…?

The list is endless.

I do know this, though: I want to be better to myself. I want to be more genuine in reflecting who I really am. I want to be fearless.

My life, like anyone’s, has been built upon ups and downs and has been shaped by so many aspects. Along the way, it has taken a really, really long time to discover myself and who I truly believe I am. The past few years, especially, I have discovered leaps and bounds about myself; about what I want in life; about who I want to be. And it’s taken me a long time to realize that I shouldn’t hide that woman from the world, nor should I apologize to the world about who exactly that woman is.

Because, truthfully, I love her.
Yet, just as truthfully, I have spent so much of my life hating her.
Hating myself.

A year from now, if I live to be 100, I’ll have lived a quarter of my life. A quarter of my life, gone and lived and in the past, like a blink. I refuse to spent the rest of it degrading and damaging myself simply because I refuse to fit into a mold society wants to me to fit, thus supposedly deeming myself lesser, unworthy, not good enough, because of that deviation.

No bloody longer.

My name is Nicole. I’m 24 years old. I’m a writer by birth, a storyteller by trade. I am weird, odd, quirky. I claim the title nerd with honor and pride. I am a walking juxtaposition in so many regards. And as early as middle school, I have hated myself, mostly influenced by my physical appearance, but also because I didn’t think the person I was, the person I have grown into and become, was worthy of anything; even though deep down, I knew that I loved myself. I wanted to love myself. But how could I, when society constantly spoke otherwise; when I allowed myself to be ruled by numbers on a scale or on clothes; when depression reared and loneliness overruled?

This is my life and I am so tired of being ruled by fear, being boxed in by societal expectations and categories that I don’t fit, of hating myself when all I want to do is love. My body is curvy and my face is plain. My opinions are stubborn and my views spoken. My hobbies are passions that are expressed with enthusiasm. My soul is old and my beliefs traditional. I love fully and intensely. My skin is inked. My conversations are in-depth. My standards and expectations are high.

All of these aspects of myself, I have hated, feared or questioned because of how the world responds: with distaste, with dissatisfaction, with disapproval. There are plenty more that didn’t make it into that list. Yet they are also all aspects that, if I am so totally and utterly honest, I actually love about myself. Deep, deep down, I knew this. Yet I never gave myself permission to fully accept and embrace this self-love; to express myself without apology or explanation for who I am to my core and ooze confidence powered by love.

Dammit, I am 24 years old. I think it is high time I allowed myself to love myself.

I have no idea what my 24th year will bring; what my future holds, how my life will change or twist or contort or challenge me or reward me or break me or mold me. But I do know this: I am sick and tired of hating myself when I am worthy of love. Not only love from my friends–which is felt–or my family–which is cherished–or from a soulmate–which is craved–but from myself.

Which is deserved and desperately overdue.

Cheers.

* So I posted this technically on the 4th, even though my birthday was on the 3rd. And regardless of when I posted it, you could be reading this at any point, so the statement is pretty much null and void no matter which way you look at it. So sue me.


Listen: You Matter

This post is directly inspired by this recent post by blogger M.A. Crosbie. Her site is M.A. Crosbie and I think before you go any further, you should read her post and then give her a follow.

In her emotional and open post about some of her struggles, she was kind enough to tag me as one of four bloggers that she believes “share inspirational advice, writerly wisdom, and intriguing book reviews.” So first off, M.A., I must say thank you. I can’t tell you how utterly flattered I was to receive not only such a compliment, but also that you linked back to my blog. It was humbled and inspiring (obviously, as it is resulting in this post :P). Yet it wasn’t just that honor that inspired me, but your ideas; more so, your fears:

“My default thought when it comes to blogging is that I don’t have anything useful to contribute. I’m just a lil’ snowflake squeaking in the midst of a blizzard. There are far more interesting blogs and topics out there, and better writers to do the writing.”

After reading that line, I had a few reactions. First, I was nodding my head. I have the exact same fears. And I know a few others who have expressed the same. Sometimes it is so crippling that a person won’t post on their blog because they don’t feel they have anything to contribute, because someone else has already written it and written it better. And if they haven’t, somebody else will. Yet even if someone conquers that hurdle, often times their post will begin with some sort of caveat, explaining why they are writing that post, even though they have just spent a paragraph explaining all the reasons why they shouldn’t be writing it or qualifying why they are anyway (I am very guilty of this).

That reaction led to my second reaction, which snowballed into this blog post: you matter. I matter. We matter. So many times, I’ve posted something on my blog and I’ve wondered why anyone would want to read it, whether it is a life update or writing struggles or just a story I wanted to share. I’ve had to mentality talk myself into posting it, even though I felt I didn’t deserve to, because who am I to write about my own life? Who am I to give advice about writing when rejection has been my constant ally? Who am I to write quirky book reviews? Who am I when compared to all these other amazing and successful human beings?

The answer: I’m still me. I’m still the stubborn dreamer, the perserverant writer, the stressed out pseudo-adult, the nerd-out-of-the-closet. And my voice, my words, my opinions, despite my own reservations and my belief that, in comparing myself to others, I’m always found wanting; they matter. I matter. And it’s important to recognize that.

You see, this blog, it is an outlet for me that is very important. Sure, I could simply journal, but I know myself well enough to know journaling isn’t a consistent enough medium for me personally. By posting it on a blog, I’m held accountable.  Because people read my blog. People follow it. Not only do I use my blog to help me work through whatever is happening at that moment in my life, I also hope that someone might stumble upon a post and it helps them. Or it makes them laugh. Or it makes them think. It makes them respond, in some fashion. Perhaps they’ll comment or we’ll share a joke; become closer, even though we’re strangers. But at the end of the day, I blog for me. I blog because writing is my most natural, my most organic, form of communication and writing in this way helps me stay sane. It helps me process and helps me improve as a person. Others just happen to get to read and experience that process along to way.

Sure, there are blogs much more popular than mine and writers much better than me. That’s life. There will always be someone superior to you; someone better at sports, better at multitasking, better at writing. Yet there is a lot we don’t see. Perhaps that parent you always compare yourself to–that perfect Mom with flawless hair and well-behaved kids–perhaps she cries herself at night because she knows her uptightness causes her to not be as close to her kids as you are with yours, and she’s jealous of that. Or perhaps her childhood sucked and she works endlessly to make sure she does the best thing for her kids, yet it looks flawless to you. Maybe she had a great childhood and is simply emulating that. Maybe she got lucky.

Another example: you follow a blogger whose sentences seem outlined in gold, each so beautiful it could be a stand-alone poem and make millions. They talk about the latest NY Times Bestseller they wrote and about the inspiration they just got from the videogame they binged on, because they don’t have to go to the day-job. They are living the dream. They have 10,000 followers and while you love reading their blog, you don’t see how you could write about your successful short story, compared to that. Who would care? Why would it matter? Yet who knows how many rejection letters weigh down the floorboards underneath their bed. Who knows how long they spent on that blog post, rewriting words and phrases until their nails were chewed away, stressed to the max of constantly trying to impress thousands. Who knows how many stories were rejection. Who knows how many years they spent working at a job they loathed, but paid enough to allow them to write in the evenings. Who knows the full story.

We can’t know everything about the people we compare ourselves to, no matter what aspect in our lives we’re comparing: work, family, writing, health, beauty, relationships. Someone may seem superior to you and maybe they are, in theory. Maybe they have done two-a-day practices for the past ten years when you only played on the weekends. Maybe they have sacrificed a social life to hone on their craft. Maybe someone is really good at appearances and the parts of their life where they struggle–the part that is always on display in your life, yet you never see in theirs–they just happen to hide really well. Or maybe they are just really lucky, have good genes or just did the right thing at the most opportune time. Sure, you may compare yourself to someone and see them as superior and that may be true. Yet that doesn’t mean they think they are superior. That doesn’t mean you know the full story.

And superior is in no way synonymic to worth. 

To be reminded that so many writers and bloggers are insecure, nervous or feel “not good enough” to write their own experiences, thoughts, opinions, dreams, goals, stories, failures on their blogs was a sad reminder. It’s something we shouldn’t experience. It is something no one should experience. There are so many bloggers whose posts I love and yes, I think they are better bloggers than me, whether its comparing follower count, the frequency of which they post, the quality of their posts, etc. Yet I would be so disheartened if they stopped posting because they were constantly comparing themselves and didn’t find worth in their own work. By doing so, I would feel robbed of the posts I’ve come to enjoy so much. But worse, they would be robbing themselves of their own expressions, the chance to impact someone else positively and continuing to learn about themselves and grow.

You are worthy. I’m worthy. Comparing ourselves to others and putting ourselves down isn’t healthy. You should only compare to learn, meaning that you look at what you’re doing, compare that to someone else and then use that as motivation, inspiration, an example, to improve. Not because you have to, but because you want to. As bloggers, we shouldn’t be afraid of what we say and question our worth or the worth of our words. Hell, as people, who shouldn’t let our comparisons to others hinder us or breed fear or self-loathing. Everyone has something useful to contribute. Everyone has a voice that deserves to be heard and listened to.

So thanks, M.A., for not only inspiring this blog post, but for having the courage to be so open in your own blog post and the courage to write it, despite feeling that you don’t have anything to contribute. I’m hear to tell you that you do, despite my gut feeling to qualify that statement with the accompanying, “even though I’m this random 23-year-old struggling young professional.” That qualification isn’t necessary, just as your fears–all of our fears–that we don’t have something worthy to contribute are unnecessary. Write those blog posts. Write those novels. Chase those dreams, writely or otherwise. Be fearless. Be heard. We, and our voices, matter.

Cheers.


Drought: A Writer’s Fears

I have been wanting a good,  solid thunderstorm for a long time now and we still haven’t had one. It makes me sad, especially as one is called for at least once a week, yet it never happens. Yet it doesn’t make me as sad as the fact that I’ve been going through a writing drought, as well, for a number of reasons. I hadn’t really realized what those reasons were, but I think I’ve started to figure it out.

I wrote at work and started to rely on that time to be my only writing time. I am lucky enough to have a job that allows me to write during my shifts, so why not capitalize on that? Yet when I have other things come up for work, obviously, that takes priority and recently, work has been more demanding, so writing has occurred less. Not to mention the fact that I’m starting to get to know my staff more, so I talk with them more throughout my shifts than earlier on, when I was too timid to say hello to my own staff. (I know, definite facepalm moment there).

I also finally caved and bought The Witcher III: The Wild Hunt for PS4 and even though I haven’t been playing it constantly, that is definitely a factor (because I definitely want to be playing it constantly). And I’m trying to take my dog on daily 30-40 minute walks. And I’m in the middle of editing two other novels for two friends. And searching for a full-time job. Plus other things like showering, eating, getting ready for work, commuting to work and sleeping are mixed in (and with the sleeping bit, that usually involves sleeping in too late). Not to mention other projects and things I have going on that bite into time throughout the day.

Bring everything together and a week has passed and I haven’t worked on my latest novel at all. Yet thinking about writing this post and I knew all of those elements combined weren’t the main reason why I hadn’t been writing much lately.

I’m scared.

Many of you know, I have a trilogy already written. And this novel is completely different from that trilogy. I’m roughly adapting it from a full-length screenplay I wrote my senior year of undergrad–though much has changed and evolved since the screenplay, which, once everything is said and done, I’ll have to go back and revise that, based on what has changed in the novel. And the changes are improvements, from character personalities to more logical connections to twists that make me smile and will make guts clench. Plus, though I’m not sure if it has enough meat to expand to a trilogy, it definitely has the promise to have a sequel, and my brain is slowly discovering what that entails. And that excites me.

I talk about all this just to reiterate that is novel isn’t my first novel. It isn’t my debut (though I’m still unpublished, so it could potentially be). I’ve completed three full draft novels. I’ve improved with each one and believe that as I continue to write (and I don’t see myself lacking material or ideas for a very long time, as my list of ideas to be written is much longer that what I’ve already written). Yet writing that first trilogy, I carried a mindset of naiveté that I obviously didn’t realize I had until looking back and being more informed. That naiveté surrounded the publishing industry. I had no idea how many words a fantasy novel should reach or not go past, so when I finished my first draft of my first novel at roughly 120k (and it has only grown since), I didn’t realize that could be an immediate turn-off for agents towards an amateur writer. I was just stoked I wrote a novel that was over 200 single-spaced pages and actually finished it. I wasn’t familiar with the terminology (I always called my books novels, not manuscripts) or the ins and outs of the business. And I’m no expert now. But I’m more informed. I’m more aware.

And I think that’s hurting me.

Instead of getting lost in the story, the word count expectations are sitting in the back of my mind. The closer I get to the end (and I’m closer to the end than I realized), the more I’m thinking, You need a higher word count. What does that mean about the strength of your story, the strength of your plot? Of course I don’t think, Hey, you might be becoming better at being more precise. Of course I lean towards the negative instead of the positive. Something I need to work on. Or I’m thinking about how I’m going to query instead of trying to tune into my characters and what they are dealing with. Instead of getting stoked about writing and enjoying it, I’m getting nervous that it isn’t publishable because of X or Y or Z.

This was a shitty realization, mostly because I’m bummed that I let myself becoming mentally affected by this. It also made me take a step back and ask myself: Why am I writing in the first place? Am I writing solely to get published? Am I writing so I can make a living as a writer without another source of income? Am I writing to impress all the agents I stalk on Twitter? Sure, some of these elements are incorporated into my dream of being published. Because yes, at the end of the day, I do want to be published. I would love to be successful enough as a writer that I wouldn’t have to work another job, so I could focus more on writing and do the fun things related to it, like traveling to conferences and meeting fans or playing video games and claiming that is research for my next novel. But is that the main reason that I write?

No, it bloody hell is not.

The main reason I write is because that’s the core of my being. These stories are in my head and I write them to stay sane. I write them because I love doing it. I write them because they are stories that deserve to be told. Do I want them to be read? Of course. Would I love to be published so that could happen? Definitely. But letting the fears that it won’t ever be publish hinder me from writing it down in the first place isn’t okay, no matter how valid some of those fears might be. Why? Because that’s what editing is for. But my favorite mantra is, “You can’t edit a blank page.” And I shouldn’t worry about those potential problems when the first draft isn’t even fully written yet, because even if those problems do exist, I can fix them later. But I need to write. And I’m tired of my self-conscious trying to stop me.

So, I’m going to end this here and see if I can get a solid thousand words in during the last hour of my work shift. Take that, drought.

Cheers.


The Power Over Your Own Mentality

I got a lot of positive feedback regarding my The Demons of Doubt post from yesterday (which I really, really appreciate; thank you). It also brought up an idea inspired by my own musing and discussions that I–having that writer’s soul–decided to craft a blog post around: mentality. But not just that, but pointing out the obvious–yet still difficult to wield and control consistently–power you have over shaping that mentality.

Today was a good day for me. I slept in (despite having weird dreams), took a shower and shaved (Lord, that was overdue; also, you’re welcome for that slipped in TMI moment), picked up the house, did some laundry and started replaying the Trespasser DLC from my favorite game, Dragon Age: Inquisition, because I just want to understand those twists a bit more (and get killed by Qunari again, apparently). All of this I did before work, which I’m currently at. While at work, I managed to reply to some emails, learned a new aspect of my job I didn’t realize I needed to know, completed my To-Do List for work, did some critiquing for a new writer I’ve connected with and now am writing this blog. It’s been a solid, productive day.

Oh, I’ve also been stuck in a limbo of putting off reading the last 200 pages of the book I’m currently devouring and finding the perfect moment to sit down and read those last 200 pages. Because I know once I open that book again, I’m not closing it until it’s done (I won’t have that much self-control). Yet I’m also not ready for it to be over, since the next book doesn’t come up until November. But that’s a blog post/review that I’ll be hitting you with this weekend, so stay tuned.

Throughout the day,  my situation–and the fears and stresses paired with it–came up in my thoughts over and over. Sometimes, I shut it out. Yet commuting, I failed to shut them out, so I contemplated. I mused. And instead of focusing on what was stressing me out, I thought about some of the goals I want to work towards. Writing wise, I not only want to write more consistently, but I have a work-in-progress to complete, a finished trilogy to trim and polish and another series (perhaps two or even three!) to draft. In other aspects of my life, I want to find another job. I want to start working out again. Eventually, I’d like to find an apartment or tiny house that I can nerd out in by decorating with gaming posters and LOTR décor.

These goals, and more, I want to accomplish. And my mindset this weekend would have set me on a path of impossible thinking; a path believing that I couldn’t accomplish all of those goals (some of which are needs) because of all the Catch-22’s punching me in the throat. Repeatedly. Yet today, instead, I thought about how I could make things work. My monologue went something like this as I drove down the back roads that had become so familiar:

So, there is this job as an international student advisor I’m stoked about and really wanna apply for. Need to do that. If I get that, commuting is going to be hell. So will eating. How am I going to work out? Well, the Rec is open until midnight, so if I bring my gym clothes and go run for 30 minutes and shower at the Rec, I could drive home afterwards and get roughly 5-6 hours of sleep. Yeah, that’s not happening until I move to Lawrence. I’ll walk Shadow until then. I really need to start doing that again. Oh, sleep. I miss you so much already. Better sleep as much as possible while I can. Meals…geez, that’s not going to be fun, but if I cook four meals between Saturday and Sunday, I could pack leftovers for dinner most of the week. Portable lunches are easy and cereal? Easy. Writing time? Part-time job. Bam, done. Weekends, too. Gotta keep that high on the priority–ohmygosh, look, a beaver! 

One: I know, it’s scary inside my head while I’m thinking. Two: I really did see a beaver on my way to work tonight and yes, I was really, really excited about it.

I’ll sum up what those thoughts actually mean, in the grand scheme of things. I do have a job in mind for a second job that I’d love to apply for that works 8-5, which would make my work day 8-5 and 6-10. So yeah, commuting would suck, sleep would disappear, long hours loom and trying to eat healthy might become even more challenging that it already is. But it is obviously doable (as my ramblings above eventually got to). And it’d be easier to manage once I moved and financially would help, a lot. And, if I got that job, I’d be working two jobs where I would be happy, which is a big deal to me. Plus, I am really lucky to have a part-time job currently that, once I complete the To-Do list left for me and after I make sure the students are on-task, allows me to do whatever else I please while I’m there, as long as I’m present and available. So blogging and writing time can easily be squeezed in there. If that is suddenly taken away, that’s what my weekends are for. If NaNoWriMo has taught me anything, it is how much time you really have for anything, if you give it priority during your time. And I’m not afraid to give writing that priority, any more.

So what does all of this have to do with powering your own mentality? This weekend, I focused on how difficult life is and will continue to be for me. Tears ensued, my mood was glum and I wasn’t very productive, to be honest. Today, I faced the same facts–life is difficult and some aspects about my situation are hard–but instead of focusing on how hard they are going to be, I focused on my goals and tried to plan around the difficulties. I tried to find solutions, even hypothetically while I drove and got excited about spotting tiny animals. And that is a switch in perspective from my weekend and it shows, not only in my mood today (which was great!) but also in my productively levels and the hope and excitement–and yes, of course, still fear–I now feel towards the future after making these tentative plans and potential schedules.

Does this mean that I’m going to be Miss Positive Thinking throughout this entire process? Nope, not at all. Are tears still in my future? Definitely. Will I still get stressed out, feel shitty and believe everything is impossible? Yep, occasionally. Yet I also got a solid reminder, reflecting and juxtaposing my two experiences and mentalities regarding my current situation, that I do have some control on my mentality. I can actively work to have a better mindset, even when things get hard. And when I fail to do so, that’s okay. It’s important to remember that, because those emotions–that stress and fear–are just as valid and important to feel as elation and joy and courage and hope. It’s a mixture of all those emotions that will help me be successful, especially if I believe that I will be, despite whatever wants to get in my way (if this concept is completely missing you, watch Inside Out. Go. Right now).

So that’s what I’m going to refocus and do: believe in myself and actively work to keep my mentality positive, open and flexible.

Cheers.


The Demons of Doubt

You know you’re a writer when Doubt plagues you so often, you’re reaching a point that you just want to punch Doubt in the jugular and also find some way to use it in a future story. At least, that’s how I’m feeling at the moment, which, in an odd way, proves that despite how often Doubt invades, I can take comfort in the fact that I’ll never stop writing (because only a very stubborn and true writer would decide to turn the very thing that stops her from writing as a form of inspiration in future works).

But even knowing that doesn’t ease the times when Doubt is really raging hard, especially when it comes at you in multiple angles of your life and you succumb, feeling powerless against it all.

I wrote a blog post recently about my life as a Catch-22, which has only gotten more complicated since. Basically, I’ve learned that my part-time job, due to the budget cuts, not only limits my hours, but also changes the hours over the summer, moving them during the day instead of the evenings, while also not scheduling me during breaks when the university is closed, to ensure I don’t go over my 1,000 hour limit cap. So while getting three weeks off in the summer and getting Fall, Spring and part of Winter Break off sounds really lovely, my current financial situation is paycheck-to-paycheck living. I can’t afford those breaks.

Of course, I still plan on getting a second job, but when the hours of my current job fluctuate between evenings during the school year and during the day over half the summer, that really complicates the types of jobs I can apply for. For example, I thought about applying to be a bank teller from 8-5 before my night-shift job, but I couldn’t switch to an evening shift at the bank that closed at five during that odd month in the summer where I work during the day at my part-time job. Yet I’d need to be able to work the most hours at both jobs to make ends meet. So that makes me lean towards retail, but I’m not confident that I could make enough working a retail job to meet the minimum bills I’d obtain after moving out on my own.

Me being me–a stressed-riddled-over-thinker–I didn’t stop there. I stressed about how if I got a 8-5 job on top of my part-time job, I’m looking at a 5:30am wake up call when I’m not a morning person. A day where I started working at 8 and didn’t get off of work until 10, at a different job. Not to mention trying to figure out how to make three portable meals a day to eat, especially once I move out on my own and don’t have my Mom’s leftovers to rely on. Or what about scheduling in workout time, especially because my self-esteem has plummeted in recent months due to my curves and growing tummy?

Realizing all of this got me not only flustering, but doubting myself on an immense scale.

Then, my car broke down while I was on my way to a rare overtime shift.

She’s fixed now, but if I wasn’t down in the dumps then…Let me tell you, sitting in your car that won’t start on the side of the road, bawling your eyes out because that’s your natural reaction to everything, for an hour and a half during five o’clock traffic isn’t exactly the way you want spend your Friday afternoon. Especially because you’re not bawling because you’re stuck on the side of the road. You’re bawling because you desperately wanted that money from that overtime shift. You’re bawling because your slowly building up your savings account from the last time your car needed unexpected–and very costly–repairs, only to have her betray you again, simply because she’s 15 years old and that’s the best you could afford two years ago when you got her; and you’re not in a better spot now to upgrade, either, without tightening your wallet even more suffocatingly. You’re bawling because you have to commute to work and you seriously can’t handle the stress of trying to find, let alone afford, another car at the moment. You’re bawling because things are hard right now and you’re doubting everything.

Normally, when I’m down, I try to escape by leaving reality for a bit, whether it is through gaming or reading or writing. I “leave” and deal with other people’s problems, which are always so much greater than mine, yet easier to solve. While gaming, I just kill things and relieve stress; while reading, they have to figure it out, not me; and while writing, my characters have to figure it out (though sometimes, that actually does fall on me). Regardless, it is refreshing and relaxing and oddly empowering. So, naturally, when this was all going down, I turned to writing as an escape and tried to work on my current project, only to be even further discouraged. Doubt had found me there, too, even though I started a new project with fresh ideas, different characters and new twists from my previous trilogy.

Your story doesn’t have enough meat to it. It’s going to be too short. Nothing even happens in it. There isn’t enough action. You’re not smart enough to write science fiction. Sure, it’s expanding to now include an unplanned-sequel, but that doesn’t matter, because no one is going to read the first one. Look how well your first series worked out.  

I mean, damn, Doubt can be a bitch.

I’ve always had these thoughts concerning my writing, though I usually fight through it and keep writing, regardless of what the voices say. I’ve doubted my precious trilogy numerous times, yet that didn’t make completing it taste any less sweet. Perhaps the exact opposite, actually. I hoped, trying a new vein and starting a new story, set in a dying world with some political commentary and technology I’m not familiar with–but excited to learn about–that Doubt wouldn’t be so quick to invade. Especially as I’ve been dealing with so much doubt regarding my career, my finances and my independence in my real life (not to mention the constant doubt surrounding my body image and unyielding single status). Writing is where I am meant to escape doubt, not be plagued by it so deeply that it took days for me to get a single scene written, my mood never elevating like it usually does after a writing session.

Here’s the thing. Here’s the hard truth: this is life. I’m a 23 year old young “professional” who just graduated college and is still trying to figure out how to adult. Finances are going to be hard to figure out. Adjusting to the adult life is going to be hard; stressful; tear-inducing. Doubt is a demon that has always plagued me. Yet, in that same vein, doubt is the demon I’ve always slain. It’s a part of life. It’s part of growing, a part of learning and a part of prevailing. Even with writing–my sacred, sacred craft and passion–doubt is not banned there. But neither is it eternal.

Amidst this past weekend where I’ve felt like everything is falling apart and I can’t keep myself together long enough to survive it, I worked 10 hours of overtime. My car got fixed. My parents were supportive, both financially and emotionally. The weather was beautiful. I came out with a new workout motivator that I will hopefully start using (soon). I got past that scene I dragged through and am in the middle of writing a new scene that makes it easy to push out the Doubt that nags at me; a scene that, instead, makes me want to point a certain bird at Doubt and claim, “This shit is gold.” I’m in the middle of a book–it nears closer and closer to the end and I am not ready–that constantly makes my own problems seem pale and increases the risk of me being late to work each day as I try to slip in another chapter. Life is good.

Life is also stressful. Life is hard. The demons of doubt surround, engulf, suffocate. Yet they need to be there. They need to be experienced. Because then that same doubt can be learned from and, eventually, overcome, in one form or another. Don’t give into doubt but don’t ignore it, either. Instead, stay positive, focus on what makes you happy in life and strive to find more things to increase that happiness. Fight your battles and know when you need a break. But never give up. I got this. You got this. Lets slay some demons.

Cheers.