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Saturday, November 15, 2014

My Lizard Brain and Me

It's November now and snowing here in Michigan. The holidays are fast-approaching and soon we'll be on our belated Honeymoon/"I Survived 2014 and I Deserve a Fucking Vacation Because Seriously This Year Was the Worst" cruise to the western Caribbean. Then it will be 2015. Although I'm still getting flashbacks from last year's Polar Vortices, I am craving the start of a new year. A new chapter.

This year has been... transformative. To say the least.

Since I'm already having flashbacks anyway, let's do a recap, kay?:

2014 started out at the tail end of a long bout of depression/anxiety that started at the beginning of my second semester of graduate school. Then, Joel's beloved grandfather passed away. The weekend of his funeral is when we found out my dad, who had been suffering from debilitating COPD for years, was suddenly on his way to get a lung transplant. The surgery was completed and everything looked good! Until it didn't. The following three months were a nightmarish, panic-fueled blur of school, family drama, an increasingly unsupportive internship environment, drives back and forth from Grand Rapids to the hospital in Ann Arbor, insomnia, relationship tension, frustration, self-loathing, and fear. Those three months ultimately ended in my father's death. For the next three months, I was essentially unable to function. I dropped out of school and completely changed my life trajectory. But in a weird way, things felt right for the first time in a long time, despite feeling emotionally out of control. I started to learn how to manage my anxiety and depression and face my grief head-on. I was feeling better. I still had no idea what I was going to do with my life, but I knew that the life of a social worker was not for me. Then one day, after reading one of my blog posts, Joel gave me a long hug, looked me in the eyes, and said, "You need to be a writer."

He was right. It's what I wanted. I had wanted it for a long time and never told anyone. Not even him. But somehow, he read my mind. I said, "Okay."

And then my lizard brain kicked in  full force. "How do I do that? What kind of writer? Can I be more than one kind? How can I make money from this? I have loans from an unnecessary degree to pay back! Who cares what I have to say anyway? I'm not that great of a writer and I say "fuck" a lot. What if people harass me for having too many opinions? I don't know the answers to any of these questions, so I'm just going to lie here forever and do nothing."

After some soul and Google searching, I've decided to seriously start breaking into a freelance writing career. I have some guidance through Karen at Untamed Writing and my fellow beginners. I also want to make this blog a Real Thing and a space I can be proud of. I struggle with not believing I have anything worthy to say and not knowing where to start. Despite my fears, I know that big things are on the horizon for me. Part of me wants to simultaneously jump out of my skin and crawl under the covers and hide, but I'm trying not to listen to Mr. Lizard (I'll come up with a witty name later, this post is serious).

I feel you, cat.

I know there will be days when I don't believe in my work or when I let negative feedback send me into a downward spiral. Working through those days will be my biggest challenge. I'm still an emotional basket case from everything that's happened this year. I cry over everything now, good or bad. This winter already has me feeling reminiscent of last winter and I'm fighting the feelings those memories bring back. Grief is the most confusing and unpredictable emotion I've ever experienced. I'm learning to let myself feel it and to not be ashamed.

Anxiety has held me back from becoming the person I want to be. I refuse to let that happen anymore. I'm teaching myself to work through the tears, the lack of motivation, the feelings of worthlessness. I'm still not content with my emotional state and don't know if I ever truly will be, but I hope I can get there someday. I know that with a network of like-minded and supportive people, I could make my dreams come true in ways I never imagined. I don't want to let anything stand in the way of 2015 being a year I can look back on, no matter what happens beyond my control (and knowing without a doubt that things will happen that I can neither anticipate nor control), and say, "I accomplished a lot. I'm proud of myself. I feel good. I'm fucking awesome!"