There aren’t a lot of things I want to do with my life.
I want to be a writer.
I don’t think I’ll have kids. I don’t think I’ll be anyone’s partner.
I just want to write and be read.
It doesn’t sound like a lot.
But, it takes up every second of my day.
I haven’t left my house yet today. I keep saying I will. I left briefly in the morning. I walked my dog up and down the street so that he could expel waste and then I walked home, I made coffee, I sat at my desk, I made a list of things to do today, each of them having something to do with writing or with being a writer, and I began.
This ambition is my only want.
I live now in a dream I inspired long ago. I live in the area I always hoped. I live in a loft. I have a dog. I am a woman who walks down the street of a trendy neighbourhood and I live here, I actually live here, my life is here, I am part of this place that I use to regard as a destination. I am who I want to be.
It’s very scary. I am scared that I am not doing it The Best. Doing It, doing Writer, doing Rachel, I am scared that I am wasting the opportunity to be myself and I feel sick.
I realize I write that a lot “I feel sick” but I often do. I put a lot of pressure on myself. The pressure amounts to a lot of tension in my body and then I feel sick.
I used to get stomachaches as a young girl. I went through all kinds of testing because I had stomach aches, every day, all the time, a lot like now. My stomachaches then couldn’t be explained until adulthood when I realized I have unrelenting anxiety and I remembered that, as a girl, I carried my worry around with me at all times. I felt that I had to change people. I saw cruelty and shallow behaviour around me, even small things, in the way my peers were behaving and in the way their parents behaved and I felt like I had to change things. I just wanted people to be better.
The impulse hasn’t gone away. I just want us to be better.
I worry that I am not inspiring enough, that I haven’t maximized my outreach and I get nervous. This past few days has been exceptional but it’s nothing new. Woody Allen has a line in Annie Hall “I don’t have to eat anything because my nerves, they eat up my insides”. It’s a lot like that.
I have nothing to worry about.
I am me. I have become me. But I am afraid that I will break before getting anything done.
I read about artists who get done what I hope to get done. Most recently and notably I indulge in life stories from William S. Burroughs. I read about his life and his person and it feels almost designed. In the hindsight allowed by his letters and his memories, it feels that someone made him up. He did. That’s the answer: He made it up, he made himself up, he designed himself. Did he? Was he just doing things that soon became him? Or, did he decide who he was first?
How do I know if I’m being authentic?
I’m working and I’m working and the output is what it is, it’s me, it’s what I think and sometimes what I know and sometimes what I want…if I keep working, I just become my work but if I stop to plan ahead and make sure that I have a way of continuing work, if I stop to design the future, I feel inauthentic. I feel pushy.
It’s necessary for an artist to plan. It’s at least become necessary for me because otherwise I let people down. People love to think about working with me because I’m creative and interesting and seemingly cool, people love my image but the truth behind that image is complete chaos. The truth behind who I am is that it is just Who I Am. I have trouble with time and space and people. I have trouble planning. When I plan I get insecure. I wonder if I’m good enough to complete the things I’m planning and I wonder if anything is worth planning because we never know what will succeed.
Effectively, I never finish anything and I let people down.
I am not who I plan to be. But, does the planning help?
I am trying. I have a calendar and lists and To Dos and emails. I have goals, which is really important, it is really important to have concrete goals. I have moments in my day when I am working and moments in the day when I am reflecting on the work I have done.
By the way, the word “Work”, applies to anything you feel is laborious.
I was on a date the other night and I used the word “Work” to describe my writing and the guy I was with asked “What do you mean work? You mean the work you do for your dad? Or the projects you’re doing? What do you mean?” The question felt callous.
“I mean anything I do” I told him. My most authentic answer. He nodded with abstract intent.
That kind of question is what leaves me feeling lonely.
Authenticity is really painful.
It is overwhelming to be vulnerably genuine in all situations, to be open to other individuals without forcing a contrived impression or outcome, to be awake for the possibility of failure because if we are authentic we are imperfect.
It is overwhelming and it is Lone.
But, I truly believe that we do not get further unless we are Master of the person we are on the journey.
So, take care of yourselves on your missions but make sure you have missions. Treat them like dreams. Let them sit in your subconscious. Let your subconscious be your architect. Authenticate your design.