I know we’re already two weeks into the new year, but I wish you a happy one nonetheless!
It’s been almost two months since my last post. To be honest, my mental health was not well during this time. Even though 2019 has been the best year of my life, I found myself slipping into my predictable, seasonal depression as my first winter living in Colorado began. The desire to write, to create, to do anything, disappeared. I was still reading (good books, at that), but not as much as usual, and without the familiar, feverish need to write about them.
When I started this blog 6 months ago, my goal was to post one book review a month. After these two months of nothing, I inevitably started feeling like a failure. Who was I letting down? Myself, clearly. This blog wasn’t supposed to be a burden, yet I carry it like one – saddled by my own impossible expectations. Nobody asked me to write book reviews. Nobody pays me for the hours I spend reading, analyzing, note-taking, writing, and rewriting. Nobody is holding my hand, keeping me accountable. I hold my own hand, criticize myself, and listen to my gut. It is a solitary process, and it works for me.
To read and write about books is my ideal job. The one I’d work without pay or complaint. Isn’t that the definition of finding your calling? But it isn’t that simple or romantic. Most days, I forget that I’ve heard the call at all. Or I convince myself that the call wasn’t meant for me, but for someone else. Then I start to question if I even heard it at all, or if it was a trick of the mind. When you struggle with impostor syndrome, it’s a constant, conscious effort to convince yourself that there is even a point in trying. It’s so much easier to give up and avoid the suffering that can come with exposing your true self and art to others.
When I read my own writing, the self loathing routine begins almost immediately. Here is an example of how my negative thoughts can spiral.
You really think you are a good writer? But you don’t have natural talent. You have to try really hard, and it shows. You just don’t have the “it” factor. You write like whatever author you’re reading at the moment, and so you sound unoriginal. Mediocre. Oh, and you sound pretentious too. Like a pseudo intellectual, dripping in academic jargon. God. These aren’t even the types of book reviews people like to read. You’re just self-indulging. You don’t even sound smart, so why not at least try to be funnier? Controversial, perhaps? And you seriously want to write a book one day? Please. Maybe if you believed in your voice for once, it could happen. But you don’t. Maybe you could write something that makes others believe in your storytelling . But you won’t.
I’m cringing a bit at how melodramatic my thoughts can be, but it’s the truth. After 6 months of effort, I realized that my negativity toward my own worth superseded all the positive feedback I’d received about my writing. I asked myself, why did I start this blog in the first place?
It wasn’t to be admired, lauded, or respected. It was because of a book. Middlesex is one of those books that sets the bar even higher for the next. When I write about a book, it’s because it has affected me so much that I can’t bear to keep it a secret to myself. I’ll wonder at how I’m meant to return to normal life after having a book shatter and rearrange my worldview like glass shards in a mirror. My review of Middlesex is twice as long as my others. I was excited and wanted to force everyone to read it. You might have noticed that I don’t post negative reviews, and that’s because I think it’s a waste of my time. There are countless books to be read, and I like to gush about the good ones and move on from the bad. I don’t believe it helps anyone to shit on their book. I’d rather celebrate someone’s achievements. So why can’t I celebrate my own?
The reason I decided to quit the self loathing and write again was because of a book (surprised?) – The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher. In one of her journal entries she kept during the filming of Star Wars, she writes, “I wish I could leave myself alone. I wish that I could finally feel that I punished myself enough.” Those words punched me in the gut because it felt like myself talking. It felt like a wake up call. 19 year old Carrie and 27 year old Georgia have a lot in common – mostly in our inability to see ourselves clearly. We see ourselves through the eyes of other people. We see the failed version of ourselves as the true version.
I’ve punished myself enough. I will leave myself alone. I will continue to read, write, think, and overthink. I will cut myself some slack. And I will do it for no one but my damn self, because I truly do love this process. I have several reviews in the works that I can’t wait to share. If you’ve read this whole thing, thank you for listening. And I hope you can find the strength to show up for yourself, too.