Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fearing to Live

Deciding how to live your life is easy. All you have to do is sit and ponder what it is you wish to do. The hard part comes with the execution. Will you live your life the way you planned?

For a few, it happens. They have little to no outside influence and are able to live the lives they wish without someone coming in and informing them how wrong their life choices are. For others, there is that outside voice pointing out every tiny flaw. The rest are left with something more devastating: the inner critic.

It’s completely possible and most likely probable that, at twenty one years of age, I have not learned all there is to now. It’s even more likely that I will be learning things until the day I die (which hopefully is decades away). But it’s moments like the one I am currently sitting in that I despise that little voice in my head.

For those of you laughing, I’m not talking about the crazy one who thinks standing on a basketball in rollerblades could end pleasantly. And for those of you keeping track of all the weird experiments I’ve done over the year, I was a successful eight-year-old until my sister pushed me over.

No, I’m talking about the inner critic who usually comes for a visit when my muse leaves on its world tour. Unfortunately, my muse likes to go on vacation when there’s work to be done and I’m left with this tiny little critic who plants little seeds of doubt that blossom into colossal mountains of terror.

Exaggeration? Possibly.

But why is this critic so vicious? What could I have possibly done to make it such a villainous character? The key? Choices.

The proof comes from my latest example. For my Creative Writing class, ironically the class I have to keep this blog for, we had to turn in a play. It was only one scene. It could be something simple. It could be as complex as we wanted it. There were no limitations. Everything was left open. Sounds as easy as taking a drink of water.

Four partially written plays later, I’m still choking on the water.

It’s not that I didn’t have an idea. I did, thus the numerous manuscripts running around. The problem with writing a play is not writing the dialogue, it’s what can and cannot be produced on stage. This is not a film, things don’t magically appear. There is a big restriction on space and time.

Eventually, I completed two different plays and chose the more lighthearted one for submission.

However, it never fails that when I want to send something for final marking, I have reservations. Emailing out a document is never easy. It should be. I know what I wrote. I’m content with this draft. It isn’t the final draft. It isn’t headed off to publication. So, what’s the big deal?

It’s the fear planted by the inner critic. Even before I click “Send”, my mind has begun to race. What if no one likes it? What if it’s not as funny as I thought it was? What if no one gets what I’m trying to say? What if they hate it? Is it possible to throw cabbages in class?

The insecurities brought about are endless. It’s rather unfortunate. But it’s just something everyone has to embrace. But there lies another problem.

To encourage someone who is feeling dejected about their work, we often use the words, “Embrace your trash.” It sounds funny and slightly encouraging, but at the same time, to someone exceedingly unconfident, it could sound demeaning. Suddenly their mind races. “I didn’t think it was trash. I mean it was bad, but trash? Is it really that bad? Maybe I really can’t write.”

It’s just another long list of more insecurities.

But how does one live with that? Or better still, how does one overcome that?

Unfortunately, no one can. You just have to find a way to cope. The concept, to each his own, comes to mind.

Ultimately, no one can tell you how to live. No one can legitly tell you what to do. You are influenced. The outside world can say they are telling you how to live, but, in reality, they are just providing you with suggestions. It is up to you how you choose to follow it.

As it has been written: “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man” (Shakespeare, Hamlet).

Embrace the fear. Live your life and don’t look back. Insecurities will only hinder the progress you wish to make. It may sound like a fortune cookie, but better to live this way and know you tried than live in fear and know you could have been more.


  1. 1-I am the same way, making mountains out of mole-hills. Oh yes, I think writers are naturally non-confident. Or maybe we're just odd, which is totally possible.
    2-I thought your play was funny. So there's at least one. :)
    3-Please don't choke on the water. I cannot save you. Don't die.
    4-Even though its just a draft, hitting 'send' is still hard because it means other people will be reading your work, something that came from you, is a part of you, and opening up that much is hard for a lot of people--even if the work is a comedy.
    5-It is possible to throw cabbages in class, but don't panic. We're all too poor to buy cabbage anyway. Tomatoes maybe....just kidding.
    6-How do you manage to be so funny in your posts? You always have these sarcastic one liners at the end of thought-provoking ideas. I can't write like that. I'm jealous. Teach me, Yoda!

  2. I always had the same problem with artwork and writing at school. ALways second guess myself. I even do it at work when I decorate for Christmas. I love to read what you write Crystal. Awesome.