I thought reaching the exact middle of the project would unleash a vibrant burst of successfulness. I envisioned the middle to be “when” something… When I’d have a certain number of followers or when someone might discover me or when I’d have something else written, something of substantial significance. Instead, the date came and went, burst free.
July 2, 2016, marked the exact middle of this year; it is the 184th day (in a leap year) with 183 days before it and 183 days after it. It was also my grandfather’s birthday; he would have been 90 years old this year. I spent the day in the affluent Hamptons, a two-hour drive from the city each way. My husband had a clown gig and we spent the entire day wandering the streets of South, East, and Bridgehampton. We were leaving for our two-week trip to Hawaii at 5am the next day. It was a hectic day despite the gorgeous weather, cooperating traffic, and my preparedness ahead of time. My anxiety rarely wavers.
I knew it was the halfway point but didn’t feel like it was any sort of accomplishment. Half of anything was not worthy of celebration. Halfway through the marathon doesn’t get you a medal. This is metaphorical and symbolic for how I process everything. I’m judgmental and extremely hard on myself; harder on myself than anyone else has ever been on me. I’m not forgiving of myself for errors. I never think anything is good enough; I always think “it” can be made better – especially if “it” is a piece of my writing. I see the completely self-defeatist way of thinking I employ but realizing nothing in life is guaranteed other than death is not helping me cope with my fear of death issues.
It may or may not have something or everything to do with Hamilton the Musical, but I cannot stop singing Non-Stop as I am writing NON-STOP this year and it feels like no matter how many words I write so far (over 150,000 and counting) it is not enough. The words aren’t saying enough. The ideas aren’t meaningful. Nobody cares. Why am I doing this? How can I possibly make up for the last twenty years of not writing? Even though I’ve written 215 essays in a row, so what? Was even any one of them good for anything? Why would anyone want to read 365 clubs about me? Even if they could relate to one, two, ten of them? What the fuck and I doing? Am I wasting my time? Am I becoming a better writer? If I did sit ups for 215 days in a row, I would have a six pack but instead, I have words and words and more words.
“You have to do this for yourself,” my sister preaches to me, an echo of what my husband says. “Don’t worry about anyone reading it or validating it or making money on it.”
“Celebrate little victories,” is my husband’s go-to encouragement phrase. I did eight loads of laundry? Way to go, celebrate! I wrote 1,500 words, celebrate, don’t judge them. I cooked a five-course dinner from scratch. I do this daily and it has become the status quo, not a reason for celebration. Something outstanding deserves kudos. Where is my outstanding? I feel like I meander on a wannabe path to greatness, but my heart knows my truth. What if it feels I’m full of shit. The flip side of confidence is knowing I’m nothing special. I’m just like hundreds of thousands of other word typists. Why me?
With as many goals as I can list it is delusional to think money shouldn’t be one of them. Steve Harvey, Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, all of them with their inspirational speeches exhorting to me to follow my dreams. They encouraged me to figure out what I do well and do it. Only I’m still doubting what the fuck mine is. I’m turning 42 in ten days and I’m gasping for the air of a dream. I don’t feel American enough to dream. I don’t feel light enough to fly. I don’t feel sure enough of myself to land. Mostly I don’t even know if I’m on the right path, a writer’s path?
How many dollars will it take for me to value my skill as a writer? Or am I delusional? It seems so easy to simply shift my thinking; adjust the dials a little bit. I know I’d expend just as much energy being a cheerleader for myself as a naysayer, so why not choose the former? my husband happily reminds me this is the mark of any good writer: self-doubt (and a bit of self-loathing).
What does it feel like to do something for 215 days in a row and feel unaccomplished? I consulted the thesaurus to find another word for unaccomplished: “green, rookie, tenderfoot, artsy fartsy (REALLY?), dabbling, half-baked, half-cocked, ungifted, unskilled.” Clearly, these words helped me see “unaccomplished” was not the appropriate descriptor for what I felt. Maybe I’m not gifted as a writer, but certainly, I’m not unskilled. Under Antonyms for unaccomplished, it only had one word: professional.
I am 100% professional, of this I’m confident. I have not taken a day off from writing for 215 days and do not plan to for the next 150 days. There are over 30 synonyms listed for professional, including competent, efficient, adept, sharp, able, practiced. None of them listed “earning money.”
I can write words and words and more words, but maybe I also need to learn to understand the true meanings behind some of them. I put too much stock in false limitations. I should spend some time readjusting my definitions: of myself, of my path, of my successes.
Either way, it is onward. Whether I am going upward or further down the spiral the closer to the end I get, is all my perception. There is a big checkmark in my future, just two seasons away, and I don’t doubt my ability at getting there, I just wish there was a guarantee of how I will feel when I arrive.