Wednesday, January 25, 2012

ode to the writer

The last time I visited my childhood home I discovered that again, in my absence, my parents had taken it upon themselves to "organize" the spaces I used to occupy. What this translated to for me is that I had another line of boxes to go through to sort into one of the following categories: goodwill, trash, save.

In this assortment of trash and treasures, I discovered something truly horrifying: a folder of writing from my 10th-grade Creative Writing class. I'm conflicted here because I don't know if I should go back and put "creative" in quotes or "writing." Let's just say what I found in that folder made me blush.

I was very fond of my Creative Writing teacher, Mr. Ryan, and I shuddered to think of him alone in his office struggling to get through my poem about whales which was trying to not obviously be about a love interest but was pretty obviously about a love interest. And that was one of my better, more articulate pieces.

The folder was horrifying enough that I was compelled to write Mr. Ryan an apologetic email. We got a good laugh over the angst of high school "creative" "writing" and I thanked him for his positive feedback on some truly cringe-inducing stories. I was waiting for him to say he'd seen worse, but he just lol'd it off. Ouch.

In some part of myself I have always fancied myself a writer-and I'd like to think (or hope) my writing voice has improved since 10th-grade. However, it would be more honest to say that I have always wanted to fancy myself a writer. I have wanted to claim the title for myself and say to people, "I am a writer." But I found myself abandoning the practice again and again, and so I thought I therefore didn't have the right to call myself one.

I thought of my friends who were self-described painters, artists, runners, teachers and so on. What they all seemed to share in common, and had that I lacked, was an ability to claim their title with no hesitation. "I am an artist," one would say, showing me her newest creation. "I am a runner," another would proudly proclaim, recounting his 15-mile trek through the city.

I, on the other hand, would always insert a disclaimer. "I am...I mean, occasionally, I do write. But not like every day or anything." [really awkward laugh causing both parties discomfort]

As I toasted the new year nearly a month ago, I got to overthinking about a lot of things, including my resistance to name certain parts of myself that are actually really important parts of my identity. Parts of myself that are scarier to talk about because they make me feel more vulnerable to an audience of possible critics. I thought about the inherent insecurity in not just declaring who I am and who I want to be. I think I've been letting the fear of failure or judgment (possibly my own most of all) keep me from exploring the parts of myself that could be very nourishing, life-giving even. I felt this deserved a little attention.

Which brings me back to this goodbye ugly robe project.

A quick tangent: perhaps I am a little too fond of exploring the roots/routes of things, but admittedly I am interested in context. I find that when I start a project it's very important to define things a bit. What got me here? What are my intentions? Though the road in front of me might be a mystery, what are my hopes for it? I do like to get to the heart of the matter before focusing on the surface of things. So bear with me.

I think a big part of 1) making writing more of a practice in my life via this blog and 2) specifically documenting the figurative moments of replacing ugly robes with beautiful robes is about not not doing things out of fear or (ugh) laziness.

I was afraid of not being good enough to call myself a "writer." So I stopped writing as much. And then nearly altogether. So my refusal to claim this part of myself became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Ick. Goodbye to that behavior! Or, to be crass: F all that!! (F You Ugly Robe didn't have quite the poetic ring to it, and was a little too angry for my liking...)

So this is me lifting myself out of - I'll admit it - what was starting to feel like a lot of really depressing self-fulfilling prophecies. I imagine the specific adventures I undertake and document in this space will start to reveal what some of those hang-ups were.

For some reason this is the year I decided to get serious with myself, strangely enough, to rediscover both the serious and less serious parts of myself. Which is me saying: this is also about having FUN.

Because I'd never felt like an expert at, frankly, anything, I'd stopped myself from trying many new things. But this year I reminded myself that one way to get closer to yourself is by more honestly seeing the world and the resources around you. I know a lot of talented people. I know a lot of experts. I'm ready to see what they are willing to teach. And what I'm willing to ask to learn. Plus what I'm willing to try all by myself, even if it means making a path where there is none. Because (cheese alert) I'm also waking up to the world of resources we have within ourselves. Denying these types of adventures and just dwelling in the world of same ol' is actually quite exhausting.

I woke up on January 1st with an overwhelming feeling that I had a lot of unanswered questions and near-expired promises to myself.  What else was on the brink of extinction because I had denied it's importance for so long? I felt with certainly there were many adventures and interests brewing inside of me that were begging to be explored.  From things as mundane as: I should know how to jump my car, I should paint my bedroom and rearrange my art; to things that impact my daily life like: I want to cook more thoughtfully for myself, I want to be more active to have the option of doing races in the summer, I want to rely less on my car and more on my feet; to long-ignored goals such as: I should reteach myself Spanish, I should ask more questions about my family history, I should read more poetry and take more pictures of my world; to much more secret desires and dreams such as....

....well, there's no hurry to put all my cards on the table right away. There's plenty of time to dig into those spaces and explore what's after that dot dot dot. In other words: there are plenty more ugly robes to destroy to see what comes out of the ashes.

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