Yesterday’s post was a little punch-in-the-face-y, right? That was unintentional. Sometimes my TONE gets away from me. I start to feel like words and I are in a FIGHT, or a complicated DANCE — snap! Step! Sharp left! Pow! — and I get so into the fancy footwork I don’t realise I’m shooting words at people like darts. Peppered like a pop gun. Other stuff that sounds good.
That paragraph isn’t finished. I expect I’ll just leave it there anyway. Something in me (the same thing that enjoys paragraphs that pack PUNCH?) gets a thrill out of that. My natural state is so anal-retentive about this stuff that I can’t read back old posts without editing them. It’s kind of EXCITING to leave an unfinished paragraph just SITTING THERE. Like I’m doing CRIME.
I am already regretting saying I would try and blog every day. Yesterday that sounded like the best idea ever — I have so much to say! I could write SHORT blogs! I could write about SOCKS! Or MY LUNCH! I could bore everyone to tears and get away with it!
I forgot to consider that I’d also be boring myself. And that I eat the same lunch pretty much every day (I am a CREATURE OF HABIT, internet. A creature of habit and bagels). (Once, at my old job, I turned RIGHT instead of LEFT when I got out of the lift, and spent a week convinced that this meant I would be FIRED.)
All these promises I keep making are kind of like that first paragraph up there — in a weird way, I’m rebelling against myself. It makes me feel sick thinking about how I said I’d do all that STUFF yesterday, and how the odds of me actually being ABLE to do any of it are so slim as to be basically non-existent. Sometimes I feel like I throw these things out there because I can — because if I can break my own goals in front of everyone, they’ll lose their power over me.
I am, in all things, an over-achieving perfectionist. To the point where it basically crippled me for most of my childhood. I couldn’t bring myself to try new things or enjoy team sports or live with my mistakes. I had — and still have — a truly paralysing fear of failure that means that even blogging, to me, is like an extreme sport. For someone with an aversion to lying, I’ve always been a secretive person. It upsets a lot of my friends and family that I play anything that matters so close to the vest, but I need to be SURE I’m going to succeed before anyone knows there was a chance I could have failed.
The last couple of years, I’ve been actively trying to break myself of that. I tell people about job interviews before I have them. I talk about my feelings. I let people read my writing if they ask. I blog about a novel that currently sucks an entire mountain of ass. Little stuff. And the way I feel to do those things — to admit when I’m losing, to be open about disappointments, to let myself be rejected — is both unbelievably awful and an incredible high. Like the moment before a skydive when you’re dangling out of the plane, and your heart is hammering at your ribs because YOU CANNOT TAKE THIS BACK. The only way out is through.
The only way out IS through. It’s terrifying but it’s also freeing, to fail in public. To NOT be good enough. To promise the internet a bunch of stuff and then renege on it and appear to be an unreliable wastrel with a capslocking problem. Part of me gets a thrill out of that. Part of me feels like it’s a middle finger to my makeup; to the anal, narcissistic gnomes in my sternum that insist I will not be good enough until I am BETTER THAN EVERYONE AT EVERYTHING.
Those are the gnomes that still make me uncomfortable saying that I was a smart kid, because there was this ONE GIRL who beat me every single year, and SECOND IS NOT BEST. And I hated her, because she TRIED REALLY HARD. She worked for it and I didn’t, and my younger self truly and honestly believed that talent should trump effort. Effort was CHEATING, and as long as I never tested my limits, I could always have done better. This is also why it took me so long to finish a novel, because you cannot FAIL if you never try to succeed.
I don’t want to be that person. I’m not saying I want to be unreliable, or lose my ability to keep my promises or meet my goals. I’m happy to be AMBITIOUS — I just don’t want to be SCARED.
Guys, I crack my knuckles. I give the NW horoscope page WAY more credence than it deserves. Sometimes I’m REALLY LAZY, and when I’m drunk I snort when I laugh. Most of the time I don’t feel remotely equipped to write this book, and secretly I think everyone who tells me I’m pretty is either lying or wants something. I’m scared to be judged, to let people down, to be let down.
To let myself down.
I think what I’m learning, finally, is that it’s possible to admit I care about all of that without giving it power over me. I can fail and get back up. I can promise the internet stuff I can’t deliver. If people want to judge me or let me down, that’s okay. That’s their problem. I want trust to be something I choose to offer, rather than something I make people earn. I want to know that my confidence in myself isn’t dependent on the opinions of others; that I can take knocks and keep fighting. That fear isn’t holding me back.
My dad just sent me an invitation to someone’s self-published, Secret-esque self-help book launch. Subject: would this be helpful?
Not really, father. But I appreciate the thought.
He is very old-guard about NETWORKING. I have tried to explain that Twitter is the old-boys network of the new generation, but as Twitter cannot provide a firm handshake or a lapel pin, he remains dubious.