Paper & Canvas (or, Say It)

Last year, I quit my job. I didn’t have another one lined up. I hadn’t started looking. I wasn’t even sure which industry I was going to look in when I did start looking. But I knew that I needed to stop what I was doing, and I had the means to do it. So I did. I stopped. (That decision was a rare moment of Confidence hopping up from the backseat and taking the wheel.)

When I stopped, I also started. I started thinking. I started reading and exploring. I started asking questions. I started realizing things. I also started freaking out about money, the future, the worth of how I was spending my time. I wondered if I was making some enormous mistake, failing miserably at figuring out whatever it was that I set out to figure out. (After Confidence took the big turn, this was Doubt shoving her out of the driver’s seat and screaming.)

And then Doubt and Confidence sat there and argued for, like, six months. But I am so glad they’ve been arguing. Because you know what I was before I was really confused, rather stressed out, but also more hopeful for the future than I had been in years?

Boring.

That’s Boring with a capital ‘B’. Period, no exclamation point.

I touched on my struggle with depression in “Fare is Fair,” but as I mentioned at the end of that piece, there’s much more to the story. When I was depressed, I was only half living. I had opinions, and I had questions, but I didn’t ask or share.

One of the worst bits about depression was the duality of my psyche – the struggle between self-doubt and confidence, feeling that it was me holding myself back. It was frustrating and embarrassing to know things – to know that I believed in feminism, that I wanted to get involved in the gender and sexuality conversation, for example – but to almost never put those desires into action.

I am not in the same mindspace that I was in when I was depressed, but I also haven’t quite grown out of my self-doubt. Since quitting my job, I’ve been working on that. I’ve been reading things I’m interested in, and I keep reminding myself that in order to have the voice I dream about, I need to take all the thoughts I have whirling around in my head and put them on paper.

The frustrating thing about my self-doubt is that I’m an action-oriented person. When I have a goal before me, I am tireless. I love dreaming up ideas, and I love getting things done. But when it comes to certain things – namely, things I really, really care about – it’s hard for me to say it, do it, write it. I care too much about reception. I care too much about whether what I say or write or paint will be impactful, insightful, meaningful, holistic, good.

One of my biggest faults is believing something, but not living by it. I know that silence really is worse than posting an article that could have been better, for example, but I’m rather tired of knowing and not doing.

So, where am I now? I’m working on it. I’m still reading and prancing my opinions verbally around the apartment. But I’ve also been setting goals. They terrify me. But I can’t wait to meet all the bad paintings and poorly written articles, because eventually, they’ll get good. And I’m so looking forward to this paper-and-canvas shift.

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One thought on “Paper & Canvas (or, Say It)

  1. Here you show a great personal asset – the ability to reflect upon yourself in an honest way. Not as many people have this ability as you may think. Yes, your creative works will get better. I learned through wood carving that not everything turns out well. The discarded pieces I created became retrospectively classified as “carving seminars.” I learned a lot from my failures! You will too. And that learning will beget some astonishing successes. Keep at it!

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