I’ve been noticing some interesting patterns in my anxiety over the last few months. It’s not anything new. Rather, it’s a deeper insight. Another answer to the question why? See, I know I don’t like being in the spotlight. I hate attention. I even am wary of compliments, for the fact that someone has noticed something about me. I went to a ball last month–and since I went, I did things my way, as usual–but I gave everyone a rule: no “You look [fill in the blank]” statements. They could say the dress was great, or that they liked any number of my accessories, but anything directly about me was too much. Strange, eh? Maybe. Maybe.
My reflection troubles me. Something about it scares me, causes me all sorts of anxiety. I never look at myself when I stand in front of a mirror–at least, I don’t look at my face. If I have to hold my head up, I look somewhere else–over my shoulder, above my head, anywhere but making eye contact with myself. It’s too unsettling. Who are you? No one I know, no one I recognize. I occasionally take selfies. Sometimes more often than others. Sometimes not at all. Same reason. Who is that? Something about seeing my outside self is too overwhelming. I’m prone to looking away from the camera, lately. I’m also prone to not making eye contact. They can see me.
I was talking to a friend the other day, about why I want to live, and finish school so I can become a counselor and start working. I would have something a little more solid to point at. “You’d have something that’s YOURS,” they said. “Something you can hold and do that’s what YOU chose, a life YOU carved for yourself. This is your signature, from start to finish, and that’s what will last, yknow? Something solid to point at–because it was what you’d decided, what you chased after, and what you accomplished for yourself.” (They’re very wise, if you can’t tell. I cherish them wholeheartedly.)
Despite my slightly altered state at the time–thanks to a bit of a psychological break at the hands of end-of-semester stress–I was surprised that they had pinpointed exactly what I was trying to say. They understood me–although I’m not sure how, since my coherency during my little splits from reality is marginal at best. “I like having something to hold,” I told them. “To say ‘I did this. I made this. I lived this.’ I think that’s why I publish copies of stuff, like my writing. Not so anyone else can read it, but because its the only tangible evidence of my existence that I can really stand–or at least doesn’t ever make me anxious. I don’t always recognize my work and I like that because the work is a truer me than the me that exists in all of the boxes I’ve been forced into over the years.”
I have many selves, and some are more true than others. I think the selves that show up in my writing, whether fiction or not, are the truest of all. That’s why I don’t always recognize them, and that’s why I put them into print. My printed writing is the only reflection of myself of which I can grasp a sort of understanding. I can go back to places I’ve lived and visited, I can look at pictures, I can listen to people’s stories about me, but it never sits quite right. It’s never true north. But when I hold a book in my hands, I can know myself in a way that nothing else accomplishes. And yet, I have never published anything under my own name. I am a host of pseudonyms, this writer; my headspace is the playground for my dissociative identities, and those who compose and create my writing are as busy as the rest of them. Most likely, even more so–more active, more imaginative, more ever at the ready to note, create, dream than any of the rest.
Right now I’m working on the second book that will come from this blog. Another year’s worth of blog posts. I am excited, yes. I also know that in a few days, I will probably be complaining to my friends and family–death by formatting, I’ll moan. But as tedious and lengthy as the task may be, proof-reading and correcting, correcting spelling and grammar, choosing fonts and page numbers–I will do it all myself. There are people who could help, people who are probably better than me at it, but I won’t let them. I refuse, maybe because I’m selfish and self-conscious, maybe because I’m jealous and paranoid that if anyone else helps me it will be a less truer version of myself than my truest self. But I think mostly it has to do with the fact that this is my existence.
This is me embodied. Every book I write and publish, it is a reflection I can admire. Not all of the works I’ve published have been perfect–far from it! I feel like this is the first time I really know what I’m doing, here. I’ve learned more about how I write, over the past few semesters, even if I don’t quite yet know all the answers as to why. But maybe that will come with time. And maybe that doesn’t matter at all, so long as I keep writing. And so I shall.