Life gets hard
One of the things that no one ever seems to talk about is how hard life can be. I’m not talking about the really hard parts – the trauma of illness, broken relationships, loss of life, those devastating circumstances of any and every kind – because those hardships, unbearable as they are, get talked about. No, I mean the parts of life that get hard, but people stoically go about their business and just get on with it, rarely – if ever – mentioning what it is that has gotten hard. Yet that’s what I’m going to talk about, because I’ve been absent, and the reason that I’ve been absent, in part, is because life got hard.
Those of you who know me, and even those who don’t really but who are learning, will know that my life is crazy busy. Beyond writing I am a secondary school teacher by trade, I’m completing my Masters degree, I’m the secretary of my local writing network, and I am partial to running amongst various other ‘attempts to get fit’. Plus, in no way the least of what I do for these next things certainly take up the majority of my time (which, for the most part I am happy to devote) is the part where I’m also a wife, a mama, a daughter, a friend. So it’s fair to say that life is busy.
People frequently tell me that I’m crazy, but I like my life being busy. I like having lots to do; I enjoy the variety, I like being challenged and having access to a lot of different parts of myself. However, for the sake of honesty and laying it all bare, I cannot deny that there are times when being this busy becomes more overwhelming than enjoyable, and that is what has happened to me over the past few months.
The thing with being this busy is that when you miss a step, the elements that pile up as a result can be exhausting. By the time you wade through the build-up of all that has accumulated, you have very little left to give and so one of the things in your very busy life slips. At least this has been my experience, and in my experience, which is what we’re here to talk about, the thing that slipped was writing.
Writing is not new to me; I have expressed myself in this way for as long as I can remember – from the poems that were published in local papers when I was in primary school to the stories and poetry that I wrote throughout high school and beyond, through the creative writing degree at university and the everyday habit of sitting down with notebook or laptop to get out whatever new words were forming in my mind, writing has always felt like home. Yet despite this constant presence of writing in my life, of knowing that writing is a part of my soul that I want to share, never have I actively sought publication, never have I actively sought to put my work out in the public sphere. Until I made the decision that I was holding myself back and began developed a plan for myself, one that involved the creation of this website and blog, amongst other things.
As suddenly as I had made the decision to put myself out there, there was the overwhelming realisation that I had made myself vulnerable. Suddenly it felt like I was setting myself up to fail. What if I never got published? What if I got published but never sold a single copy of my work? What if I was actually a terrible writer but people had been too kind to ever say as much, like those people who enter talent shows because they’ve always been led to believe they had more talent than they actually had? What if people just thought I was pathetic?
Fears flooded me, in a swarm I had genuinely not expected nor experienced before. So when life got hard, as it invariably does, making the decision to let my writing be the thing on my very full list of things to do that got far less attention seemed the easiest of decisions to make. It came with a bucket-load of guilt, yet before I knew it, months had passed and I was on top of everything else on my list but still hadn’t picked up a pen or made a blog post. The people in my life are kind, and when I made comment that I hadn’t written in some time, the response was generally the same ‘You’re very busy, something has to give, so it makes sense.’ I would smile, and nod, agreeing on the surface, and yet inside I would be screaming ‘This is not who I am!’
Fighting that fear, trying to bring myself back from the self-sabotage that comes from fear and that whole concept of ‘if I never try, then it’s only ever a failure because I didn’t try hard enough, not because I wasn’t any good’ has not been an easy process. It has involved a lot of soul searching, a lot of workshops, a lot of reading, a lot of conversations with the people in my life who also write, and then even more soul searching, and that’s what I’m referring to when I say that life is hard. Because it is hard. Finding courage is hard! The writing is simple – when I write, even when I’m scared, it comes easily to me. I can find words far better than anything else. But putting it out there, admitting that I stopped because I was scared is not so easy. I’m forcing myself to do it so that I can move past the fear and back to what I love. Because that’s why I write – for the love of it – and I’d rather face my fears than lose that piece of me.