Thursday, May 29, 2014

Blogging badly and getting unstuck.

I have something to do. It's something that I need to do, or something that I want to do. I want do it well. I want to be able to look at what I've done and say, "Good job." I might even want it to be brilliant.

And then whatever I have to do becomes scary, because in the end it might not be brilliant, or very good, or even sort-of-good. Sometimes I can push through the fear. Sometimes I put off doing it for as long as possible, and sometimes I don't do it at all.

Does anybody else have this problem?

I'm nervous every year when I plant my vegetable garden, because I might plant the seeds wrong.

I don't like setting goals, because I will probably not meet them.

I hate organizing stuff, not so much because I'm lazy, but because I'll probably do it wrong. I've never been good at organization.

But when the task at hand is an area of strength for me, I'm even more afraid of failure.

I didn't audition for any college choirs until my junior year, even though I'm pretty good at choral singing, because I couldn't face the possibility that I wouldn't make it in.

I always wanted to be on stage, but I waited until 11th grade to try out for plays. Not because I didn't have any talent, but because I was pretty sure that I did, and I couldn't risk finding out that I didn't measure up.

When I took the GRE in my 30s, I was nervous. I'm good at taking standardized tests, and my graduate program only required moderately good test scores. But I had done well on the SATs in high school, and I was afraid that I wouldn't do as well on this test.

I'm a blogger who hates writing, not because I'm a bad writer, but because I want to be a good writer, and I think that I should be a good writer, and it's hard to be a good writer, and I'm afraid that if I start writing it will be garbage, junk, bleck.

So I'm stuck. Totally stuck, and I'm in a bad mood because of it. (This post is an attempt to get myself unstuck.)

I live with a perfectionist streak and a fair amount of anxiety. Since I'm in favor of demystifying and destigmatizing mental illness, I'll go ahead and say that I've been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. It goes up and down, and the extent to which it interferes with my life fluctuates. When my anxiety level rises, a bunch of stuff that I should be doing, stuff that would make me happier and healthier doesn't happen. It's just too scary to try it.

I don't know if casual acquaintances know how scared I am most of the time. Does it show? Do I come across as someone who functions normally?

Wait, don't answer that.

I don't want to be stuck in fear that what I write isn't good enough. I want to blog badly! I don't even know if "blogging badly" is grammatically and stylistically correct. If it isn't, so much the better. How liberating to scrap concerns about word choice and usage! How freeing to write inelegant sentences and lousy paragraphs!

I could start a post like this:
Since the beginning of time, man has longed for nature walks. It is with a joyful heart that I go on one today. I walk for three reasons: a) love, b) beauty, and c) I want to take photographs for this blog.

Or this:
I dislike the straw man fallacy and I think that it should be outlawed in writing and speaking. It is bad. It hurts our society. Please consider.

I also want to sing badly, dance badly, garden badly, pray badly, exercise badly, and play the piano badly. That's my plan: just to do stuff without wondering whether I'll achieve excellence or meet expectations. It's a good plan, but I'll probably execute it poorly. I'll be bad at allowing myself to do things badly. I'll be bad at it, and that's okay.



  1. I've seen you out and doing stuff often enough that I don't think that your anxiety is crippling at all. That's amazing that you were able to do research and write papers with small children and going to nursery school and so forth. I think that it is a great strength that you are very careful and deliberate when you do things or say things. I sometimes regret decisions that I've made without enough thought. On the other hand, I do end up doing nothing sometimes because of my occasional inability to make decisions and those are days that I probably need to rest anyway. When I'm worried that I'm bad at something it helps me to get positive reinforcement from others. Teaching my primary class really drains me sometimes and once another adult that was in the room told me afterward what a great job I did and how patient I was and everything. That meant so much to me. As long as you keep loving yourself and loving others everything will work out just fine. :)

    1. Thank you, Wendy, for sharing your ideas and experiences. Regarding getting my master's degree, Owen picked up a lot of slack when I was doing my master's thesis. I still feel some guilt over how I handled the process.

      I like what you said about loving ourselves and others. That's probably the answer to a lot of things in life.

  2. I often try to remind myself of the sage words of Jake the Dog from Adventure Time, "Dude, Sucking at something is the first step to being kind of good at something."

    1. Yes, indeed. I don't know why it's so hard to accept that.

    2. Hard to accept that good advice, that is.

  3. Beautiful! YES! We live in a world where we are constantly judged by others. The most important judge, though, is our own hearts. Love and trust yourself to be the best YOU you can be. If you feel stuck, try _The Artist's Way_ by Julia Cameron. I found it to be really a wonderful book!