Paralyzed

Paralyzed. adjective. According to Dictionary.com, “To bring to a condition of helpless stoppage, inactivity, or inability to act.”

I have a confession.

Sometimes this writing thing scares me.

Since my last post, I’ve been paralyzed, unable to choose a topic or put together words that feel meaningful or important. I worry that if I don’t write something stellar, no one will care what I have to say. I’m scared that I’m going to get it wrong.

This is so typical of me. Sorry that I can’t get over this.

If you’ve been reading this blog since the beginning, you know that I struggle with the quest to be perfect, to control everything so that it’s neat and tidy and logical. But in the past few days, I’m being reminded once again that there is little in life I can control. It’s hitting me hard. And it freaks me out a little.

I can’t control how people respond to me, whether they hang on my every word or snicker when I turn my back. The most brilliant thing I’ve ever written will not resonate with everyone. Even if I rocked at small talk, I might still come off as an awkward weirdo. A new Pinterest-perfect outfit every day would not ensure my universal admiration.

I’ve been trying to make people love me, to perform flawlessly so they’ll find nothing to dislike. And it’s not working. Perfection is exhausting and uninspiring and makes me cranky.

So I’m going to make progress, to step forward in the only small way that I know how. I am making the choice to stop worrying and paralyzing myself. And I am going to write.

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Image via Pinterest

Right now, progress is not crafting the perfect post, snark and insight with an inspiring image to match. Progress is not gaining more readers than ever. Instead, progress is writing because it makes me happy. Progress is continuing to type even when my words feel stilted. Progress is doing the work regardless of the results and feedback I get.

If I look back at the roots of this space, I did not start blogging because I wanted to be famous or because I am an attention hog or because I need constant affirmation that I am a good writer. I started blogging because I love to write. I like the person I become as I shape words into images and ideas. Writing makes me more observant, someone who notices the sideways whirl of snow under the streetlights and the errant thoughts that surface while I gaze out the window. Arranging words helps me snare and name the elusive emotions that I suck at talking about. Writing feels like prayer.

So I will silence my inner critic and write. It might be messy. It’s possible that no one will care. And that’s okay. Because I will be making progress, moving out of the paralysis that keeps me from being my best, most authentic self. I hope that it means I will be writing here more often, about the inconsequential, the things that confuse me, the happy random things I love. It won’t be perfect. And I’m starting to be okay with that.

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7 thoughts on “Paralyzed

  1. Thank you Anna. I definitely understand and identify with what you are saying, and your words on the subject help me to understand it more.

  2. Once again, you have written a beautiful post that is vulnerable and so true. I resonated with your statement that “writing feels like prayer,” which is something I’ve also been discovering this semester. This post reminded me of Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, which is a wonderful book that I think you would like (if you haven’t already read it). Even if you’re feeling discouraged, keep writing! Your honesty will connect with many people in your audience.

  3. Oh, Anna – you have struck a chord with this one! I, too, struggle from paralysis in so many areas of life, but especially writing. It is hard to put yourself out there, for fear of what others will say, for fear of whether or not your writing (or in essence, your SELF!) will be good enough. I identify so much with my words, that I often conflate the two when I should not.

    Coincidentally, “progress, not perfection” became my motto earlier this year. I had challenged myself to blog three times a week, to finally write my novel, and to be all things to all people! (Absurd, I know). After the first couple of weeks, I challenged myself instead to progress – and I am more mentally stable because of it. 🙂

    Here’s to bravery and courage as you type your heart out for the world to see. I’m glad – and privileged – to be reading your journey.

    • I absolutely understand your challenges to yourself (I make such similar ones!), and I admire your perspective in stepping back and choosing to make progress. I have “progress, not perfection” posted on my desk, because I need to hear it pretty much every day. Thank you for sharing!

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