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Insecure at Thirty-four

Joe Sorren Crow-Hair-Girl

I’m still not exactly sure what this blog wants to be “when it grows up” or, more to the point, when it actually has a reader.  I look to other blogs online for inspiration, and as with everything else in my life lately, I am suddenly overwhelmed and exhausted, simply from thinking about doing something productive.

But today, going back to bed or sitting on the couch and staring at the ceiling is not an option. One of my best friends, a serious blogger is at the other end of the dining room table – typing away either for her dissertation, or her post-doc proposals, or writing posts for her blog “Midwestern Berliners.” I however, am attempting to type in my well-practiced “hunt and peck” method – as my fingers never took up permanent residence at the home keys.  In some part of my brain is the competitive spirit that I have always known. It urges me to keep up, to write, to think, to do something too. But ideas are not as quick to surface when I am at my computer as they are when there is no sign of a writing utensil in sight. As well, I seem to have traded in my competitive drive for anxiety, afraid that what I write will somehow come back to haunt me.

I have always loved to write, but there have only been a few instances where I have shared my writings with others. Most of those times involved summer writing classes or retreats where the rest of the world seemed to be marginalized in comparison to the short stories my cohorts and I read and wrote and shared. Three times, I have been blessed with those amazing writing experiences; each time finding inspiration not only from professors and classmates but also within myself. Each time I would vow that I would continue writing and finally become the writer I have always wanted to be. And somehow, writer’s block would inevitably turn into self-doubt and later depression. My writings would be lost on the hard drive of a computer that no longer works, or filed away in a folder I cannot find, and more often than not, they would never be written at all.

As I write this, I am beginning to dwell in the possibility that I will somehow recreate those blissful summer experiences of reading and writing and sharing through an online community. And immediately I think, why haven’t I done this before? Have I become so insecure at age thirty-four that I am afraid to write because I’m afraid to fail? Yes, I think that is it exactly, except that this insecurity is not new.

I distinctly remember my first summer writing experience as a sophomore at Purdue University, taking a short story class with Professor John Moore. Because this class took place during the “Maymester,” the crowded campus was reduced to only those who were taking summer classes, and thus it was far more difficult to blend in. After the first class in which everyone seemed equally unwilling to speak, our professor, frustrated by the awkward silence, asked each of us to write about why we weren’t responding in class. I wrote that I was afraid that I would say something stupid. Immediately after turning in our excuses, Dr. Moore read them out loud to the rest of the class. When he read mine, he stopped and said, “This is a person who is insecure.” I can’t remember what he said following, but I know that by the end of the summer course, I had lost my insecurities and flourished in the freedom of writing about some of my darkest memories and wildest dreams.

I can be that version of myself again. First, I just have to stop worrying about sounding stupid, and about offending someone with what I write. Second, I need to find that community of writers that will inspire and encourage to keep writing whether I am writing about marriage, buying a house, getting older, accepting that I will never have children of my own, unemployment, disability, or my constant struggle with depression.  And I suppose in the mean time, I just need to keep writing and hope that with time, I and my blog will figure out what we want to be when we grow up.

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