AKA, the one not about books but something I’ve been wanting to share for awhile.
I’ve never been a writer but I’ve always wanted to write. I just never actually tried, and I guess that’s pretty much my whole life story. Wanting to, dreaming big, and never bothering to try. This pattern had been my standard life practice up until very recently. No, this isn’t a story where the protagonist finally gets out of their comfort zone and fulfills their potential. I am certainly not an inspiration. It’s a story about someone who learned that reaching and falling is a whole hell of a lot better than being stuck and freaking scared. The short version is, I actually tried, failed hard, cried a lot then picked myself back up and unlike the previous version of myself, I tired again. The trying again bit, if you hadn’t figured it out, is the message here.
One of my favourite authors once said that every writer is an author, no matter if they are published or not. There is no title of aspiring author, if they write and create story then they ARE an author just by doing so. I thought that was an absolutely lovely concept and quickly shared it with all my friends calling themselves “aspiring authors”. They all embraced their new title and I was right there along with them until I realized I was missing an essential step. You kind of have to actually DO some writing to gain the title. I was actually just an aspiring writer. There had been no writing just the aspiration to write. I just didn’t have any drive or confidence, until I started the shittiest job I have ever had. Working in the collections department at an electrical company. Sounds strange, I know.
My days were spent stressed out and angry, with the customers, the company and myself. Don’t get me wrong, if you want to get paid well, have a wonderful pension/benefits plan and can handle a soul sucking day of squeezing money out of multiple desperate people then by all means, it’s a wonderful job. I’m not so much into the soul sucking and letting people down though. Which is why I spent my days, when not explaining to people that not paying your bill for two years causes a high balance, plotting up ways to get me out of that shit show. Plotting, that’s what i’m good at. Follow through? Not so much. In the end, plotting ways to become an instant millionaire never amounted to a million dollars. So I sank further into my now diagnosed bipolar depression, crying on the way to and from work, and doing my best to ruin all positive relationships. It was a really stellar time for everyone. I tried writing but when you are that far down the writing flow feels completely inaccessible.
If you’ve never experienced actual depression, it’s pretty hard to describe the place it takes you. I find myself constantly using the word heavy. Heavy heart isn’t just an expression my friends. It’s a suffocating yet slightly indescribable feeling, that can bring your whole life to a complete stop. Taking away your agency, taking away any sort of drive or feelings of worth. It was one morning in this headspace that I arrived at work, started setting up my station for the day and doing my usual bitching to my coworkers about how much I hated the job. One of my coworkers turned around and said “Then why don’t you quit already?” clearly tired of my constant complaining. That was all it took for me to have a life changing realization. That I was allowed to quit, that I was allowed to be the author of my own story. I had dreamed about quitting for over a year but never actually considered that I could. I had savings and was privileged enough to have time and multiple degrees, so why hadn’t I considered taking the time to try for something more? The answer is because I was fucking scared to try (and depressed but that’s a different story). Twenty-five years of being content not trying left me stuck. After a pause I answered “I don’t know” and went straight upstairs to talk to my boss. I quit without hesitation right then and there. I went back downstairs, looked at my coworkers and announced “I quit, i’m done next week”. My statement was followed with shock. Despite my constant (clearly annoying) complaining about how much this job was killing me, no one expected me to quit the job that paid $32/hour. Something that I still find myself justifying to people five years later. Sometimes i’m still justifying it to myself, seems I spent the next 10 months woefully unemployed and sinking into debt. My heart felt lighter though and that struggle seemed so much easier to handle than being stuck.
Let’s fast forward. A couple months into unemployment I decided to get around to that trying thing. I took a fairly recent heartbreak (I don’t know why I took that for inspiration, it’s not a genre I enjoy) and turned it into one of the worst short stories to ever exist. Then I spiralled. I had awards from the English Department, I was known as the reader, I worked for HarperCollins Canada. I was “The Book Girl” and it turned out I was a shitty writer. I was left feeling like Rory Gilmore in the Netflix revival. Spoiled, privileged, completely unaware of myself and just really really lost. So I reevaluated my goals. I spent time considering when I was last happy with a job. I loved HarperCollins but it was a little extra for my low energy personality. I knew the burn out rate would be high if I stayed in that career. I came to the conclusion that I was happiest working at the University Library during my undergrad at Guelph. With a new goal in mind, I started tailoring my resume and skills toward Library Science. It took me 8 months to even get an interview at a library after applying to over 25 positions. I even debated going back to school for a 2nd post graduate degree. I failed over and over and over, had informational interviews, made connections, put myself out there and I was still failing. Normally this is when I would have reached the “fuck it” point and given up but this time felt different. I made the decision to try. And even while struggling with Bipolar Disorder II, eventually I landed the perfect library job and did go back for another degree. I’m spectacularly happy in this job AND I have time to work on my writing on the side. Which is still mostly shitty but guess what? I’m now out of the aspiring author category. I’ve actually completed a novel and it’s all thanks to working my most hated job ever. Without that moment when I realized I was stuck for no reason, I wouldn’t have bothered to try. And trying, my friends…trying is what makes the world go round. Or just makes you leave the couch and shower.
Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.
Until next time,