Be Yourself

still life

I mean, sometimes this feels easier. 

Sometimes I want to choose the nuclear option and start from scratch. I want to Peggy Sue Got Married my life and do it again. Do it better. Choose differently. I want to learn faster, climb higher, pay attention. Treat a heartache like a burn and stop putting my hand on the hot stove. Avoid the mistakes I’ve made, the people who hurt me, and dodge the terrible, wretched, doomed, star crossed romantic disasters that continue to plague my being.

So dramatic.

We don’t get to start over. We don’t get redos. We don’t get to take back the things we say or do that hurt people we love. We don’t get to choose never to have loved people. Sure, you can rewrite your own history by minimizing whatever feelings you actually had. You can say you never felt anything, or it wasn’t real, but that doesn’t make that true. This is a way that some people protect themselves. Lying to yourself doesn’t make love disappear from your DNA. It just makes you numb to your own experience, and it invalidates your life choices.

I started writing this blog in 2008 because I wanted to feel less alone in the world. I wanted someone, anyone, to see me, and to understand me. I wanted to create something. I wanted music and writing to heal me somehow. I wanted to share the music that I love, that lights me up, with everyone else.

As time went on, and I shared more about my personal life, I started to get messages from people far away, who I’d never met, who connected with what I was doing. My little cult audience has never been large, and I am certainly still safely shrouded in obscurity. But this collection of writing is a part of my life’s canon now, and most people who know me, particularly who know me well, know it exists. There’s a fine line where you can write about your life, but make sure not to hurt people in the process. Protecting people I am close to is very, very important to me. And I don’t ever want anyone to think I’m going to air out my intimate experiences. This is why I love metaphors and language. This blog is full of coded messages to people who probably don’t ever really get them. My own secret messages in an electronic bottle, floating in a sea of bits and bytes.

The reason I keep going is because I’m still finding out new things about myself, even now. Every experience, however repetitive, teaches me something new because I’m ready to hear it finally. This week it was going on a date for the first time since my dumpup and having a revelation that maybe I shouldn’t date introverts because I need too much attention? WTF? I don’t think I’ve ever not dated an introvert. How do I not already know this?!?!? Problem: I only seem to be attracted to introverts. But like, this is crucial information, right?

Seven years later, I’m still learning some of the same lessons I have written about in the past. But now I’m older and more cautious and afraid to write about what I really want to write about. I worry about my professional life and what effect this has on that. And frankly, I’m a bit tired of hearing myself talk. This is actually why I stopped going to therapy and started going to yoga. So I could just shut the fuck up for once.

Every week, I wonder why I am still doing this and if it even matters anymore.

What I should be doing is telling the truth. I should be writing about breaking up with someone you deeply love and how much it fucking hurts and hits you in waves weeks and months later and rips your guts out all over again. I should be writing about how I miss my best friend and I wish we could just go to the fucking movies. But also how amazing it is to have nothing to lose and freedom to do anything and everything you can imagine. I should be writing about having a desperate, unrequited, ridiculous crush on someone who lives in the future. I should be writing about how much alcohol sucks for me and always will, and how I had to learn that yet again and it was just as shitty as all the other times, but now I am relieved and healthy and safe.

The reason I can’t jazz this thing up is because I’m stuck. I’m on repeat. I write about the same dumb romantic pitfalls of dating here because I’ve been out with every kind of dude I can find. I went through a partying phase for several months, because I thought fancy cocktails and staying up all night were somehow the answer to my apathy and my broken heart and being with someone who didn’t fit. Getting out of that head space wasn’t fun or easy, but I did it and I didn’t feel like making a huge deal out of it because you guys have heard all that shit before.

Maybe it’s time to move on to something new. It is time.

I’ve been dying to leave Austin for years and I just stay in my comfort zone because I get a job or meet a boy or it’s too expensive and hard and scary. And man, is it ever safe here. This velvet rut is deep and soft and it has bands and festivals and distractions and you really don’t have to try very hard. People think this place is some kind of mecca, and it’s just not. Unless you want to do nothing but sleep until noon and wear flip flops and ride out your life drunk on a porch somewhere. Don’t get me wrong, Austin is a beautiful place to live full of vibrant, creative people who I love dearly. It will always be that, and it will always be here. But I have been searching for something bigger for so long, I don’t know how to find it here. I know it’s because it’s not here. It never has been.

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about how anyone can do anything if they practice. That people may have an aptitude for certain things, but most skills, most talent, comes from the desire to want to learn or be that thing. All it takes is 10,000 hours. In 10,000 hours, you can become an expert at speaking a language, or playing an instrument, or doing a sport, or learning open heart surgery. People aren’t born being amazing athletes or singers or artists. It takes practice and making the decision that this thing is a priority. You make it happen. Anyone can play guitar, as it were.

I think for me, that’s what this space is. It’s my 10,000 hours. It’s the place where I come to practice writing, and to cultivate the creation of something that I am quite proud of, even if no one ever reads it. It’s a place where I can call myself out for being less than authentic, and I can work things out in my mind and my heart, and I can say the things here in code that I need to say and let you try to figure it out. It’s the place where I am honing my habit and craft so that I can create bigger and longer pieces of work in the future. It’s the place where I have poured my heart and soul out and bared it to the world. It’s a place where I can say, yeah, I got to the top of the mountain and guess what? THERE’S ANOTHER, BIGGER MOUNTAIN BEHIND IT. It’s a place where I share the music that gives me the feels, and somehow, just doing that, just writing, makes me feel less alone.

I’ll keep climbing, and keep writing, and keep going. That’s all I got.

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