Henry was thick with snotty tears the other morning when Robb finally coaxed out of him what he was feeling and why he was a soggy mess. He said, TODAY IS NOT GOING AT ALL LIKE I EXPECTED.
I think he was disappointed over a playdate falling through, and for some reason had believed he deserved marshmallows for breakfast and was devastated when he got toast instead. The details are inconsequential. I was really proud that he was able to articulate the core of how he felt.
So much of our adult beef with people and jobs and life and dreams comes down to THIS IS NOT GOING AT ALL LIKE I EXPECTED. How much anger is actually, at its root, disappointment, or hurt feelings or fear?
Identifying and then being able and willing to put words to what is actually making us feel the miserable feels is hard as a kid, but I think it’s even harder as an adult.
“I’m lonely.” “I feel disrespected but am afraid to ask for more.” “I don’t feel seen or heard.” “I am so afraid no one likes me.” “I don’t feel worthy.” “I am so sad because I thought myself/my day/my life would be different.” “I am so anxious because I know I’m not enough. “I am scared to try because I think I will fail.”
This is what I thought in middle school, and high school…and college…and more college…and this is all shit I’ve thought THIS WEEK. Am I alone? (Be careful how you answer. You already know how very fragile and lonely I am).
It’s hard to human. Inside our heads, we are all pretty certain we’re getting it wrong. I gather from my extensive research of asking my friends over wine and ice cream.
Sometimes I feel more confident than other times. Some seasons I’m brave and wise and pleased with the Sarah that I’m becoming. Other times I am really disappointed in this Sarah project I’ve been working on for so long and wonder why she is taking so long to get it right?!
I feel better when I share my worries with another human bean. I’m not great at it. I tend to do this polite dance of the listener instead of the talker. I am afraid that my ideas will be rejected, that I will be rejected.
I’m learning to push through. Therapy has helped with this. I’m learning to force myself to share, in person or in writing. I find that drawing my voice out of my head and into the space outside me makes me feel more concrete and less like a slip of a person keeping to the shadows.
Ironically, writing is both my safe happy place and my monster under the bed place right now. It’s been for a long time, a place where I feel solid and confident in my voice and where I can say things how I plan to say them (not awkwardly blurting them out like I do all day long in real life). The pulsing, potential audience on the other side of my writing is safe and comfy to me, less scary somehow than talking to a live person…BUT right now, writing is also the source of huge insecurity and anxiety for me.
I keep wondering what the next step is. How far should I try to take this? I have ideas! I’m working on a novel. I’m re-writing a screenplay I wrote a while back. I’m looking for an agent to help me find my path…..but then as I entertain any of these thoughts, the evil poop gnomes that live inside my conscience tell me not to bother because I’m not good enough or special enough and it will just end in that rejection I’m trying so hard to avoid. There are better writers who have done all this before. My ideas are unworthy, my voice is unnecessary.
These poop gnomes are pretty convincing. It would be less scary if I just kept it in my pants and stopped thinking I could be a thing (a “writer”). It would be easy to just stick with the things I know how to do to date and stop pushing to learn a new craft at 35. It’s too late. I’m going to get boring, crazy, or broke developing and promoting my dumb art.
So, here I am. Half trying and wholly scared. I don’t know how to stop, but I don’t know how to keep going.
I think it was pretty astute and brave of Henry to identify and share that he felt low because his expectations weren’t being met.
I’m trying to be self-aware and brave like that, too. Share the fears, but do the scary things anyway.
This is the thing that I want. Stop.
This is the thing that I’m working on getting. Stop.
I’m going to do what it takes to get what I want, poop monsters be damned. Stop.
Don’t stop. Stop.