I’ve spent a long time fighting with myself and dealing with a few shortcomings that I couldn’t say aloud. Tonight, instead of sitting down and burning through tons of short productivity hack YouTube videos or faux motivational videos that hype me up to clean the bathroom, or even sitting down to play video games for a full night, I worked. I’ve gotten so used to the habit of working eight hours, then sitting down and playing video games for two or three, that I forgot most of the plans I had for this year prior to the pandemic.
I went ahead and shut myself in, hid behind video games, fast food, and the ever popular “well, I have to clean before I can actually work on that…”
The first of these idiotic beliefs, is that I have too limited a view of the world in order to say something worthwhile. I’m not well-traveled, I think. The truth of it is, I’m likely better traveled than most Americans though. Having grown up in New York City, I lived among quite the salad bowl of cultures and ideologies. I lived in Miami, Florida for fourteen months, and have now lived in Wisconsin for a year. I don’t know anyone else who has managed to live a New York lifestyle, and moved to middle America. I only know a handful of people who have done the opposite. To some degree, furthermore, every last person on earth has a biased view of the world. This doesn’t make me “unqualified”, it’s actually the only thing that does qualify us to share with each other.
Next, I worry that in writing from the perspectives of others, I won’t be able to do them justice and ensure their stories are told properly. This, is also a very stupid thing to let limit you. This is like saying you’re afraid to swim because you won’t be able to swim. The act of writing and practicing the perspectives of others is exactly how i’ll manage to build perspectives of others. On top of that, the incredibly diverse pool of people I know and still meet will allow for me to ensure that I’m always kept in check. Most importantly, I have to keep getting out there and talking to others, sharing their perspectives, and never letting my own feel more important (I try), if ever I intend to write something that shows how beautiful our diversity is. This is the hardest thing on the list, really, because to a degree i’m right for fearing it, but I can’t overcome it without actually working on it.
The third limiting belief I have is that I think I can’t write a short story. The only way this is true is if I weren’t allowed to take credit for the things i’ve done in the past. If somehow my teenage, and early twenties aged self isn’t allowing credit to who I am today, we all need to talk. I once wrote a story in my freshman college course that a professor asked if I plagiarized, or had someone else write for me. This was because he didn’t know i’d grown up in New York City, and thought I wasn’t capable of writing from that perspective. In truth, this should only help me know i’m full of shit for thinking I can’t write.
The fourth is something that i’m sure most people get mad at themselves for, and that’s the idea that whatever I want to create is an amalgamation, or outright copy of something i’ve seen before. Let’s be clear, self, everything has been done before. I want to do it again. Yes, universes have been built. Build another. Yes, your life story is completely similar to someone else’s. Tell it anyway. You’re special because we all are, you fucking twat. The only reason you’re not special is because nobody owes you something for it.
Last, I’m a relatively obnoxious and loud person, that likes to always be right, and to some degree enjoys philosophical conversations too much. The hard part being, I don’t like hearing myself talk, I just love hearing a well-constructed argument, and I do not mind poking holes in every single poorly-constructed one I come across. This translates to me throwing facts at people, cutting people off when they have poor examples, and getting frustrated with people that don’t properly frame their arguments. I sound like i’m defending myself, because I am. On the bright side, i’m working towards identifying the ways I can improve on that. In a way, my job is helping to overcome it with some focused analysis. Therapy, and a brutally honest partner doesn’t hurt.
So far, I know I’ve got a problem with listening to others state their full argument before chiming in. I need to be sure we both agree what their statements are before I counter or agree with them, this will help avoid moving goal posts, and ensure we’re having a fair discussion. I need to let other people speak, even if I think they have a poor argument, because that’s the only way to actually learn something from them. I can’t help but think this is an American issue, not just my own. However, as an American issue, it would still be my own. These are all a part of how I behave. If I intend to be a better person, I can’t just overcome it, I have to enjoy the process of doing so. I hope this helps you somehow.
This list of five is thanks to Nathaniel Drew. His Skillshare course on Creativity helped me crank all of this out with roughly 30 minutes of time, but really an hour or so of watching. My attention span is poor, and I often need to jump back to ensure I heard him properly. I don’t know what comes next, but it’ll get posted when I do.