The graveyard of my unfinished projects is sprawling and solemn. I haven’t thought about some of these projects in so long that weeds have grown where these memories are and the fragments of them lay like broken amphorae, waiting to be discovered by the next brave dive of a therapist or my ego.
I sat down originally to write an advice article about how to avoid the “all or nothing” approach in various parts of your life, but this topic feels more honest to me. The prospect of writing every single day for a year is not difficult in terms of its mechanical execution. Anyone, including me, can spew out some gibberish for 20 minutes and call it a day. More difficult is overcoming the thoughts of doubt and fear — before, during, and after — with regards to publishing something in the world and how we are going to be judged for it.
Let’s be real. The Internet can be a cruel place, often without reason. That’s been a large reason why when I sit down to write, I revise again and again, trying to strip out the portions that might make me vulnerable to attack by the trolls the likes of which I cannot even imagine. Yet, I delude myself. My readership is low, and it’s not bound to get noticed unless I say something outrageous and attach the proper hashtags to it. It is these contradictory impulse — the desire to get noticed and the fear of getting notice — that often stifles my creative process.
In order to overcome this fear, or at least to manage it so that I get the words down on the page, I’ve been mindful of when I feel the most vulnerable and simply accept that not everything I can say is perfect or mind-blowing in some way. I am not unique. The feelings that I feel as a millennial/young-adult/almost-but-not-quite-30-something are probably what my friends feel at the moment too. In some measure, and at some point.
It helps to tell myself that I am not unique.
Because that means that I can reach one person who can relate to me, and in that sense, I can achieve connection.
Because that means I don’t delude myself in thinking that when I speak, everyone is waiting with the utmost attention as to what I have to say.
Trust in your instincts that what you say does matter to someone. That the advice in which you give, the thoughts that live inside your head, also live in someone else’s too. It’s been bludgeoned into my head that communication is the most important skill to have, and yet, it is not practiced enough by most because we are too scared to say what we are thinking. To share our hopes and dreams and fears and doubts. Honesty is important — maybe you don’t want to share it publicly here, but at least tell someone. That way you don’t feel that alone, and you don’t feel that unique.