I am a writer. Or at least, that’s what my graduate diploma from The New School says. I’m supposed to write every day. And not just those Tumblr roleplays with my friends. Actual writing. Essays, short stories, god forbid a journal. Or maybe a blog.
I do none of these, opting for nights after work on my yoga mat and then on my couch, watching YouTube videos until I accidentally drift off around 9:00pm only to wake three hours later a sweaty, panicked mess, as if I’m shocked when I do the same thing each night.
Consistent blogging and social media posting have always been elusive to me. Optimistic and inspired, I’ve started this blog over time and time again, renewing my domain every year with the hopes that this would be the year, this would finally be the point in my life when I have my shit together enough that I’ll write every day, post every week. To what endgame, I don’t know. What’s the goal? Internet fame? Attention? For one person to glean something about me and my life, my struggles as a privileged white, queer, vaguely genderqueer human with an overgrown undercut and crippling social anxiety?
I always thought I thrived on routine, and in some ways I do. Routine is challenging to me. If I make it through the whole routine every day, I feel good about myself, about my life, and I can fool myself into thinking I’m doing everything right. I’m on top of my shit. But when I can’t, my self-esteem plummets and I find myself at work sitting in front of a giant iMac screen, frozen as I peer at my inbox. I go to sleep at night with an imaginary knot in my throat that makes hard to breath, no matter what position I’m in.
Routine is suffocating after weeks and months and years. Wake up at 6:00am, make the bed, drink water, go to the bathroom, brush teeth, put on your new organic deodorant that makes you smell like aloe, which you somehow can’t differentiate from body odor. Stretch on the yoga mat that you should roll up afterwards, but you won’t because you’re just going to use it again when you get home. Get dressed in the same shit you wore last week, and vaguely wonder if what you’re wearing this Monday is exactly what you wore last Monday. Figure out something to do with your hair and put on some makeup. Don’t forget to grab the lunch you prepared last night, which is in a bento box shaped like a book. It’s just a chicken salad sandwich and some cinnamon almond butter paired with gluten-free pretzels because Celiac Disease is a bitch. Leave at 7:15am to catch a bus, either the 87 to Hoboken or the 84 to Journal Square. Catch the path train into New York. Get to the office by 8:00am ideally. Work, work, work, work, work. Lunch at 12:00pm. A piece of Orbits sweet mint gum after lunch. Work work work until you hit your wall at 3:30pm. Leave a few minutes before 5:00pm. Make the return trip. Home by 5:45pm on a good day. Yoga. Shower. Dinner. Couch. Try Guys videos until I’ve dozed off. Wake up sweaty. Brush teeth. Pee. Crawl into bed.
It’s stable. There’s that. But there’s a balancing act going on here. There are only so many hours in the day, so much energy I can expel before there’s none left. Add anything and it all falls. I have to prioritize. Yoga and working out come before more creative pursuits thanks to multiple heart attacks in the family, one of which having been fatal. And meals come before that as disordered eating is no stranger to me, making it an easy, slippery slope for me to slide right down. Okay, maybe I can turn off YouTube for a little while, but it’s the only time of day for my brain to turn off. Besides sleep. And god, sleep though. Enough said, right?
Even when it is all in balance, I start to feel suffocated by everything I tell myself I have to do every day. Soon I end up doing none of it. Okay, I’ll always brush my teeth and go to work. But I’ll stop doing yoga or stretching. I’ll start to skip breakfast or lunch. Sometimes dinner. Just like in the office, I’ll freeze, unable to do anything. Weekends will feel useless, like I’m spending both days trying to figure out what I want to do.
I don’t know. Maybe I’m not passionate enough about writing to fit it into that routine. Maybe I should take up drinking coffee to stay up into the wee hours so I can write personal essays and poems, stories of witches and magic and dark tragedy. Writers always say they don’t want to write. They need to write, like it’s something the universe is dragging out of them, some ill-fated responsibility they wouldn’t want to wish on anyone else. They are just the unwilling vessel of words the world needs in order to keep spinning.
I, on the other hand, grow embarrassed the second I post anything. I don’t share links to my blog on any social media. I don’t show my friends. Because if they see this, they’ll just know I’m a fraud. I’m not a writer.
Yet, here I am, starting anew once more, sweating at the thought of it. Figures.