Don't be scared. The next ones will be better.

DON’T BE SCARED!

b1afb5acfabc11e2bb5722000a1fd013_7I included a parenthetical pep talk on my legal pad to-do list last Wednesday. The bullet point: 20-minute free write.

It’s one of the many items that didn’t get crossed off that day. I was scared, and I’m still scared.

Yep. Writing scares me now.

This void between my ears is scary. Trolls are scary. The speed at which the days — weeks, months — fly by is terrifying. (Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned: It’s been 56 days since my last blog post.)

I’d rather be [                ].

There are about a million things I’d rather do lately than write for myself: Lose myself in A Game of Thrones. Zone out in front of Orange Is the New Black. Watch my Twitter timeline fly by. Shop Sephora’s website for eyeliner. Drink wine on my back deck. Stare at people at Starbucks, wonder what they’re listening in their earbuds (in mine: Imogen Heap).

The only thing I’d rather do less, actually, is run. I’m allegedly training for a 10K in September. Which seemed much, much further away when I signed up. Now it’s next month. My running shoes have been sitting in my front hall, covered in a fine dust of neon-colored cornstarch, since the 5K “Graffiti Run” I did last month. My insides may still be neon orange, too; an crazy-eyed volunteer “color thrower” chucked a cupful of it at my face — and wide-open mouth.

And then, two weeks ago, I cut my foot on a boat, so…

I can find an excuse for anything. Particularly when it involves not doing something I ought to.

This balance you speak of…

Honestly, I don’t know how other freelancers to it. Balance their lives. Maybe I’ve even written about this before. But I still don’t know.

My life is one big state of flux these days, and it’s all I can do to keep from spiraling into complete vertigo — or bursting into a banshee wail, at the very least — let alone find time, energy and words to create for myself.

I’ve lost two major clients in the past month — both I was perfectly fine with letting go of, but I would’ve preferred to do it on my own terms — and the restaurant where Mark was wine director closed two weeks ago.

We’re broke, but we’re happy. We’re poor, but we’re kind.
We’re lost, but we’re hopeful, baby.

The days are long but too short at the same time. I get by with a little help from my cats. And too much food.

I Facebook and tweet and Instagram everything even remotely good that happens to me. Every joyful moment, every delicious bite, every selfie that passes muster. I’m curating a culture of cute. It’s nice to be able to present a veneer of perfection, even though anyone who knows me understands there’s a kicking, screaming child just beyond it, with no idea what’s coming down the pike.

Making sense

533871_10101486118578419_1756153075_nI know, I know. You just…do it. You force yourself to sit and write and keep making words until something finally makes sense.

The world barely even makes sense to me right now. I’m in the middle of a six-month fellowship with Upworthy, which leaves me equal parts enraged and enamored with the world every day. It’s like I’ve seen too much. I take everything in; I watch all the videos and read all the news stories and blogs, and I drink in the injustice and absorb the microaggressions like tiny bullets, I writhe under the crushing weightlessness of my [extensive] privilege, and I see how little the good ones are actually doing in the end (though it’s not the end).

I’m inspired and disgusted and so much bullshit rolls in day in and day out that I can’t even find the words.

Maybe that’s it. Maybe that’s my excuse du jour. That I want to say something that matters — I want to make a statement — but I don’t even know what to do with all these jumbled thoughts.

This doesn’t have to make sense to you.

DON’T BE SCARED? But everything is scary.

There’s always a silver lining.

People I love are bringing glorious little creatures into the world who are going to make it better. Mark’s brother and sister-in-law had a baby girl, Greta, six weeks ago, who is pink and perfect. Three weeks later, my best friend from high school delivered her first baby, Autumn. Catalina just arrived, care of the woman who redesigned my website. And somewhere outside of Philadelphia, Lou and Elijah are growing into pudgy toddlers, raised by parents who will help teach them to be good humans.

The next ones will be better than us. And we’re better than the ones before us.

I will write about this, then, when I can: the view from behind my curated-cute veneer of perfection, and all the little things — people, places, widgets, food, drink, whatever — that might not make the whole world better, but help me make sense of it.

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4 Responses to “Don't be scared. The next ones will be better.”

  1. Kelly Rivard Says:

    I’ve written like, four drafts of a comment, and couldn’t find the right words.

    But, I do want to say this: you’re fantastic, and I know my life is richer for having you in it. Regardless of how the world makes you feel lost, or bitter, or scared, or uncertain, you are a wonderful lady.

    Life sucks sometimes, but perspective can make a huge difference. I’m a big fan of clichés and quotes, catchy reminders to keep perspective. The saying, “Not every day is good but there is good in every day,” got me through some of my worst bipolar lows.

    Girl, you’ve got the good. You’re curating it into cuteness, and that’s okay. Document that happiness — remind yourself of it often. And know that there’s a shit-ton of people who will drop everything to do what they can.

  2. Beth Coll Anderson Says:

    It’s funny. I just found your blog the other day and I was really inspired, because I’m hoping to do freelancing myself. It’s interesting to hear the negative side to it. I also have fear but it comes from not doing it, rather than doing it. Fear of sticking with a career I don’t like. Fear of always being a stay at home mom. Also, it takes a lot of courage to step out of your cute-veneer, and admit vulnerability. I wish more people would do that – it would make the web a more interesting place.

  3. Gabriel Says:

    “I know, I know. You just…do it. You force yourself to sit and write and keep making words until something finally makes sense.”

    That, my dear, is it. That is precisely it. And, in the middle of it all, you try to be a good human. And, if you can, teach.

  4. Betsey O'Brien Says:

    Paige — your radical honesty is one of the most valuable things about you. Not only to everyone reading your work right now, but over time, to the wider world.

    Most of us are terrified of admitting we’re terrified. The veneer of cuteness we share on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest could be our momentary way of muting our many disappointments, not to mention the realities you’re overexposed to in your work with Upworthy. All of us just want to be OK, be OK, be OK …

    Props to you for throwing your head back and letting out a big howl about what you feel and see. Keep doing it. It’s inspiring.

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