I’ve been wanting to do something similar for a few weeks now but put it off because I thought that I don’t have the artistic skills or creative knack or way with words to do this quite as much aesthetic justice as I would like to. But you know what? Fuck it. You heard that right, yes. Sometimes it helps to remind myself what blogs are for (away from the people that are actually professional bloggers) – self-indulgent outpourings of whatever happened to be going on in a person’s mind at that moment.
So here’s what I’d like to talk about and bear with me –
Recently I had something of a… I don’t want to say emotional break down because it was not a break down in any serious sense of that phrase… but something, for a moment, in my brain snapped and I spent last Tuesday night wallowing in an entire pit of self-indulgent misery and pity. Because I am a person who has defined herself through, and been defined by, academics. And whenever I can’t “get” something, or I find I can’t focus, or I can’t come up with anything remotely intelligent to say, I have a mild internal crisis.
Because what am I if not an academic after all? What am I if not someone who can form vaguely coherent and eloquent sentences that express some sort of vaguely intelligent argument regarding a piece of literature? Well, Tuesday me decided that I was nothing. Literally worthless. And once your brain gets caught up in that thought process it is extremely hard to pull it back. Trying to combat its powerful effect by saying ‘no but I got into to university’ ‘no but I got a first, I must be doing something right’ and ‘I deserve to be here and saying these things’ does not work. It might in hindsight; I might be able to look back now with clarity and suggest these weapons against the ever-present cloud of self-doubt. But in the moment, on Tuesday? Not even close to it.
It helps to be kind to yourself. To focus on not what you haven’t done yet but what you have done. Don’t think about what you think you can’t do, focus on what you can, and if that currently unknown thing seems important to you then you can try to learn but it takes time and it takes work. Do not diminish every single thing you have accomplished and learnt over the years just because you find that, on one already exhausted evening, you can’t instantaneously wrap your head around a 500 year-old play you thought you knew inside out.
That’s what I’m thinking. I’m going to try to convert that second-person addressed paragraph above and listen to it. I’m going to try not to berate myself about what I can’t do and what I’m not, I’m going to try to be kinder to myself and focus on what I have done, what I can do, and what I am.