I've probably started half a dozen blogs in my life, maybe more. They've all started with a spark; an idea I can't get out of my head, a vision I want to create. I'll start out hot - often with a post that takes six hours to write and pick apart and perfect.
I'm glowing when I finish. I think I am literally turned on by writing. In the words of Dennis Reynolds, after "getting off" pretending to be Brian Lefevre, it's mostly sexual.
Totally kidding...so weird. Don't stop reading please!
A few months, weeks, or days later: cold, cold silence. I haven't touched my project, and I've most likely moved on to something else.
Following through with projects is something that I have struggled with for as long as I can remember. I have paralyzing completist and perfectionist tendencies. Hobbies don't get old, they just become too painfully time consuming, so I abandon them. It has taken me way too long to write straight forward emails in the past. Even this sentence was edited into this post after re-reading and editing multiple times. I'd procrastinate college assignments, because if I do it now, what if I learn something later that changes my whole argument?
And it happened several times, actually - I would have most of a project complete only to change my mind days or even hours before a deadline. I'd scrap my entire project and every draft in favor of representing my most up-to-date argument or set of beliefs. Sometimes I'd have adopted a completely new set of ideas. I remember one of my favorite professors sent me an email during finals week to remind me that 1. the college closed in a couple of days, 2. he was still missing my final paper, and 3. I was putting a lot of stress on his internal organs.
Of course "good quality" to me at that point didn't mean nuanced or grammatically sound. It meant simply "up to date" or aligned with my most current set of beliefs, ideas, or research. Anything less was not good enough. To me, whatever I had been thinking all semester was garbage. Shameful even. Thank goodness I've been enlightened to this new way of thinking - just in time! This was my thought process.
My thoughts now: thank goodness I was a decent enough writer to scrape by with last minute, draft-caliber papers!
I've recently been diving into old blog posts, poems, college papers, and Instagram captions that I've written as an adult - usually something anecdotal about my personal growth, discoveries, experiences. I find some of them to be devastating. Cringe-worthy! What was I thinking? I can't believe I wrote/said/wore/thought/did that. How pretentious/presumptuous/naive/ignorant/shameful/ridiculous of me!
Some of these are from just a few years ago. This past year. A few months ago. It's been uncomfortable for me to see representations of my past. I know that I have been through so much change so quickly this year, and I also know that it's scary to look back at parts of myself that I feel I have outrun. It's like I'm looking at the words or into the eyes of an entirely different person.
I'm one of those people who have had three or four Facebook and Instagram pages. Each time I went through something big or intense or life changing, I'd delete a page and a few months later create a new one affirming my "new life" and new beliefs. I've done the same thing with dozens of blogs. My old Twitter has been obliterated.
Earlier this year I found a project from 8th grade when I was looking for pictures for funerals. It's something I hadn't really looked at before...unsurprisingly. It was an assignment called "I am a Voice for my Times". We basically wrote an autobiography with current events, and we weren't given it back until we graduated High School.
I brought it back to my apartment to read it. I cried and cried and cried, and I'm crying now. It was 8th grade writing and if I'm being honest with myself, my writing style hasn't improved much! But there was so much presence and honesty and unapologetic sass and sweetness to it. It made so much sense but no sense at all. Here are some of the gems:
"My personality confuses people. Just because I am quiet and get good grades doesn't mean I don't forget my homework or wait until the last minute to work on projects or book reports. And I guess 'smart people' are supposed to have neat handwriting."
"This year, many events took place. The one I remember the most was when Vice President Cheney accidentally shot his friend while they were quail hunting. This had an impact on me because when I saw it on the news, I couldn't stop laughing. Even though Cheney's friend could have been on his death bed while I was cracking up on my living room couch, I thought it was the funniest thing in the world."
"I wish it wouldn't have been advertised all over the country, because Cheney had to feel like the worst, dumbest, and most careless and horrible man in the world."
"The last thing I can think of that I really don't like are cats. They scratch, they're lazy, and they walk around with a look that says 'I own you'. You have to find one special cat that will cuddle, roughhouse, and actually eat their food without having it warmed up for them. You can tell I am more of a dog person I think."
"I am the type of person who will make a mountain out of a molehill type of story to make it sound more interesting. "
^^That was after I compared the time I was on my school but and saw someone hit a dog with their car to the assassination of President Lincoln.
"In Lincoln's story, the country was in tears. In my story, my bus acts like our country and the dog is President Lincoln."
For my favorite quote I wrote, "Keep swinging!", because it's not just about softball, "it also talks about life".
My heart could burst! Whoever this little girl is, I love her!
Would I feel the same way if I had read these things as a 16 year old? Absolutely not, I'd be mortified - way too cool for that girl. That's probably why I didn't open it for over a decade. Isn't that heartbreaking?
And isn't that exactly what I'm doing to myself each time I delete my blogs and social media accounts, burn my journals, and scrap my poems?
I want to be clear, it's never a problem to want to start fresh. It's just that I've realized it's a pattern that isn't serving me anymore. I want to finish my book. I want to share my stories. I want to try blogging with consistency. And if that's what I want, I cannot afford to start all over again every time I learn something new about myself - to rewrite an entire chapter every time I learn a new word. That's not how it works.
Instead, I'm now learning to be compassionate with past-me. Not just the things I can still see on the Internet. The real stuff.
That part of me that did that perverse thing at a party when I was drunk.
That part of me that yelled at a child and made her cry when I was her substitute teacher (I was in the middle of my yoga teacher training too...yikes).
That part of me that peed my pants at a friend's house when I was way too old to pee my pants,
and then the other part of me that peed on Dylan's bedroom floor 10 years later on the night he asked me to be his girlfriend.
That arrogant little part of me that looked at my high school math teacher and told her, coldly, "I did well on my state exam because I hired a tutor".
I'm not even breaking the surface and it's already hard to watch.
Something that has helped me to be more compassionate with past-me is looking at pictures of tiny-me.
I've looked at my baby pictures this year more than ever, not just because it's been the year of freaking funerals, but because when I look at pictures of tiny-me, I see SO much sweetness. I love tiny-me so much.
I love me so much.
Now, imagine calling baby-you a "disgusting slob" after you threw up all over mom.
If it's all in good fun it might actually be hilarious.
But you get the point. Saying horrible things to myself is a lot harder after I've seen myself as a five year old. A two year old. A baby!
So now, I read my old poems for fun. Self-care for me at times has been looking at old High School projects and book reports. I try to find a new one each time I visit Dad. And I no longer push away embarrassing memories of times when I was less responsible, less accountable, or flat out perverse and pretty fucked up. All of this has helped me to celebrate every bit of my journey, even if certain landmarks are hard to look at. If I am to move forward, I can't be afraid of my snail trail.
I'm actually excited to regret writing this a few months from now. Maybe a few minutes from now. There will be something written here that I no longer believe to be true. There will always be something I'm missing, something I'm unaware of...something I'm not ready to see or do or be. There might even be a time when I choose not to stack my "and's" and "or's" anymore in my writing. And the anticipation of growth is no longer holding me back in the present moment. It's exciting to me. I get to cheer myself on no matter what, like when we see a baby take two steps and then fall-down-go-boom.