So this piece that I put up on Medium today is only slightly spooky. Just a bit. Not like, overwhelmingly so.
My older brother once told me about this penny superstition, where he would find pennies in unsuspecting places during times where he was worried or off-balance. Both him and my sister-in-law had found them in several situations, and each time they would tell me about them, I would find it just as bizarre as they did.
Then, I found a penny of my own in a similar situation. The bizarre part? I was at least 99% sure that I had never placed a penny there.
If you’d like to check out this piece, click here to go to the story on my Medium page! I had a lot of fun writing this, and it was very cathartic, both to create and to share with you all. Hope you enjoy it!
It’s not just a dream in my head. It’s like, reality, now.
This is something I’ve been wanting to do for years. I’ve been wanting a place of my own ever since I got a taste of it during my college days. I wanted it ever since I had a job that was earning me a steady income, even though it wasn’t enough for me to be completely on my own. I still wanted it after my mom died, despite some depression making it seem like I didn’t desire it enough to do anything about it.
Inheriting her house was one of the best gifts, because it was like that final extension of her making sure I was safe, especially during a time where my whole world had changed. Though her death wasn’t sudden, it was still a shock, and the gift of her home gave me time to navigate out of that paralysis. However, the house has now become a crutch. It’s become a constant reminder of the past twenty-two years that I’ve been living in it. It’s a reminder of the fact that I was a child, then a teenager, then an adult in this home. These stages of my life don’t represent the full spectrum of who I am now, and living in a space where I used in those mindsets is a strange, debilitating experience.
I am an adult who does not want to live in a home where his entire life has taken place. I have so much to look forward to, so much ahead of me, that I can’t have a heavy past weighing me down.
As easy as it is financially to live in this house (especially as someone who’s investing in self-employment), it has been the worst for my mental health. Projects start, and don’t go anywhere. Ideas float away because I don’t have the energy or the feeling of self-worth to solidify them. I sit in front of the computer and use only willpower with no actual work to just hope that I get some words onto the blank document. This house has sucked all of the inspiration out of me. I have to drag its past along with me to get anything done, and that past has become too heavy.
Even just knowing that the move is days away is enough to feel inspired. I’ve flown through even just writing this post, which would have taken me a whole hour, if I were to write it a few months ago. The drive is there, knowing that my life is moving on. I feel the spark, ignited by a big change. In this new apartment, I picture myself writing thousands of words at a time, and having more energy than ever for my Twitch streams. It feels better than anything has in such a long time.
I told a friend this already, but I’m probably just going to cry the moment I’m finally settled in to this new apartment. I’ve had the weight of living in this house on my shoulders for too long, that I don’t remember what it’s like to be without it. It just might be one of the most beautiful things I’ll feel in this decade of my life.
I want to apologize to those who hoped to see more written content from me, lately. I especially want to apologize to anyone who supports me through Patreon, which you can use to help fund my creative endeavors, and receive exclusive rewards. Living in this house has really done a number on any kind of inspiration for the one thing I’ve been consistently passionate about, and I’m sorry that it meant affecting you all, as well. Believe me, I have tried time and time again to create new things that I am passionate about for you all, but the depression behind living in this stagnant space has really taken its toll. It has weighed me down to a point where I hate myself for saying I’m a writer. I don’t want to hate myself for not being able to fulfill a dream, anymore.
Thank you to everyone who continued to support me through this. Thank you to everyone’s kind words and positive vibes, especially about this big change in my life. It hasn’t really sunk in yet, but the feeling of things changing is there. I have to keep talking about it, or else it doesn’t feel real. Thank you for your assistance in making it feel real.
I’m not the only writer who compares himself to others. I’m not the only creator who feels like his creations are worse than they actually are. In the world of artistry and pulling ideas out of your head to turn them into a creative piece, looking at your finished product (and at times, your work-in-progress) and thinking “this is a pile of garbage” is just a part of the process. It doesn’t have to be, but it usually is.
Lately, I feel like I’ve been slinging out a bunch of hot, smelly garbage when it comes to writing. I can smell it even before it hits the blank document, and I immediately discourage myself from the idea that anyone else would even want to look at it. It’s been hard, because every time I finish the grueling creative process with my writing, I get such a damn rush that I can’t get from anything else. So feeling like everything I’ve been doing lately is subpar, plus seeing the success of so many other writers, makes me feel like I don’t have what it takes to let my creativity shine. Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m quite ecstatic to see others succeed, especially when they’re other queer writers. However, I start to feel like I need what they have in order to succeed, and I talk myself down into thinking that I’ll never have it. Nevermind the fact that what they have and what I have can exist at the same time and be equally as successful; my brain thinks I just won’t make the cut.
This all changed when I just recently received this email:
Okay well, I’m exaggerating. Not ALL of it changed, but it did take me a little bit out of the immense imposter syndrome I’ve been feeling for a bit. Like I don’t know if I actually deserve the success I get because I don’t believe I’m at the level of other successful writers.
I keep going through these motions of being a writer where I feel like the talent just isn’t there, like people are just saying I’m a good writer because it’s better than saying I’m a bad one. Even receiving this email (which, don’t get me wrong, I am THRILLED about it), I feel like I’m still just some run-of-the-mill gay writer on the Internet.
This publishing house wanted a short, 1250-word excerpt for their collection. I could have just combed through my old projects and sent one of those out, but what did I do, instead? I busted my ass to write a whole new piece from scratch. I didn’t have to, as I didn’t have that long of a time to write and edit a whole new piece to send to this publication, but I did it, and that work paid off. Yet, I still feel like it didn’t actually happen. Like maybe it’s going to slip away, somehow. How, exactly? I don’t know, but I keep feeling it.
Regardless, I’m trying to stay on the lighter side of it. This is my second publication I’ve gotten in to! That’s huge! I wouldn’t have been given this if there wasn’t talent in what I do. I worked hard for it, and I know I deserve it, and as long as I keep reminding myself of that, I know I can move forward and continue to put that energy into something bigger and better, so I’m going to do what I can to ignore the imposter syndrome, and keep writing the way I know I can. This may sound all kinds of cliché, but gurl, I just learned that I’m getting published. I can get a little sappy and cliché if I want to!
And believe me, I’m just getting started. I have bigger ideas that I will for sure be putting some good energy into, so once this imposter syndrome stops being so damn loud (which may never happen, but I’m feeling optimistic while writing this), the world will see just how mighty my pen can be! (Not a euphemism, ya nasties.)
I talked about a conversation with a guy on a gay dating app that sparked some body image issues that I have, how they started, and how I feel about my body, today.
Here’s a little teaser to get you excited about it:
“With the weight of this continuous journey on my shoulders as some jackass on Scruff tells me that “240 is too much,” I felt myself snap. It was like he was looking into the eyes of my middle school self, and confirming the voices that implied I was ugly. Imagine having the nerve to tell someone recovering from those issues “don’t take it personally,” when it has always been personal. I might not be 240 pounds, but I’m scared to death of going back to that weight. Though there is nothing wrong with being overweight, the insecurities about my own body run so deep, that even something as simple as missing a workout makes me feel like my body is inflating all over, again. I feel like I’m going back to the days when people only saw my weight, and used that as a factor to determine that I was worthless. I was not beautiful to them, internally or externally; I was a conglomeration of fat cells over an empty soul.”
I’m just going to blurt out a bunch of stuff that I’m thinking because I’ve been super unproductive and I need to at least write SOMETHING this week that makes me feel like I haven’t been incredibly lazy (when it comes to writing, at least. I know I’ve been working hard in other realms of my life.) I’ve been waking up about two hours later than I normally have been, and I feel like that’s been spiraling into how I run the rest of my days, and I’ve honestly been hating it. I used to be great at just getting myself out of bed, but lately, I’ve been like “eh, let’s close our eyes for another 5 minutes,” which then somehow turns into another hour and a half. I can’t say I’m proud of this, but I try to give myself the benefit of the doubt by suggesting that my body needs that extra sleep. For what reason? I don’t know, but listening to your body is important. However, I now feel like my body is taking advantage of me.
I have writing projects I know I need to get done, but like most of the writing projects I’ve been working on, there’s a fair amount of emotion that goes behind it, and those emotions haven’t been easy to confront. I keep thinking “is it too soon to write about this?” But those thoughts are so often combatted with “if I don’t write about it now, then the feelings just won’t be the same.” Which, I guess both are true, but all in all, I feel like this is all just a subconscious excuse to stall. Why am I stalling? What is there to wait for? I’m not getting to success any faster by staring at a mostly blank word document and hoping I can get words to appear. I have to put the work in, and I have to do whatever it takes to just get that work done.
But…of course, there’s another side to that. These last few weeks, I haven’t been in the mental headspace of allowing myself some relaxation. About a month ago, I was doing well at telling myself “okay, just ONE episode of Jessica Jones, and then you have to get to work,” and that was keeping me on a pretty good track. Lately, every moment of my day has been filled with me thinking “okay, you have to do this right after you’re done Twitch streaming, today,” and subsequently, trying to fill every moment of my day with trying to stay productive. It’s kind of been driving me crazy. Sometimes I feel like my mind is just trying to tell me to stop, relax, and give myself a damn break before getting into the work I need to do. Maybe I need to listen to that.
But it’s hard, because I also feel like I haven’t been productive, despite organizing and running a month-long charity campaign on my Twitch channel for The Trevor Project (which is still happening), which alone has been enough work to be considered a job. When I’m not working on that, I’m sitting in front of my computer, trying to be productive by sheer willpower (with little to no results), so lately, there hasn’t really been a moment where I’m just…relaxing, simply for the sake of it. I’ve valued balance for so much of my life, and now, I’m trying to sweep that under the rug. Maybe that’s been a detriment, a product of the environment I was raised around that doesn’t agree with my brand of adulthood. I was taught that being busy means being productive, and that relaxation was a privilege granted when you’ve been busy enough to earn it. While I believe in staying busy to be productive, I also heavily value my time where all I’m doing is something that requires little to no productive effort. Though, whatever the reason is, I know me best, and losing touch of that has started to make me slip into a version of myself that’s hindering progress.
I don’t like being my own worst enemy, but as a content creator, that can just be part of the job description. For so long, I’ve fought between “I just want to relax for a bit” and “I’m not being productive enough,” and I’m realizing I need to finesse that combination in order to create some progress. I sometimes punish myself for taking breaks when I know I have a lot to do, and for sleeping in when I wanted to be up earlier, but maybe that’s part of what’s hindering, well, everything. I put this pressure on myself to hopefully avoid the pressure someone else may put on me, but I’m starting to feel like I’ve been going about it the wrong way. Willing myself to squeeze words onto a word document, when all my body wants is just forty-five minutes to escape reality, might be what’s drying the well of productivity to the point of cracking. A moment to just breathe might be what I need in order to re-fill it.
I guess this is when someone would say “treat yo self.” Make sure you’re treating yourself for the hard work that you do, because you deserve little rewards throughout your week. Keep yourself motivated, and know when the well is empty. Find healthy ways to fill that well. Kick ass. Repeat.
So, I value authenticity and transparency in a lot of situations. Because of that, I’d like to keep it real with y’all. One, because I don’t want to be ashamed about what I’m about to talk about, and two, because I don’t want you to have to feel ashamed if you ever find yourself in a similar situation. So, well, here it goes.
I’m starting therapy, today.
A lot of people may read that and think “oh no! He must really not be doing well,” and some others might think “good for you, it’s awesome that you’re aware enough to know you need help with some of these issues!” And, well, both would be correct.
The thing is, I’m not doing well. For all intents and purposes, I’m doing okay, but there are a lot of anxious thoughts that get so overwhelming, that I eventually just start sobbing. I can only avoid thinking about them for so long before they come back up (on full blast) and start affecting my life in a way that harms productivity, and simply being able to just exist without feeling a crippling amount of feelings. No matter how logically I try to rationalize against my anxieties, the anxious thoughts always win, even though the logic could be absolutely spot on. But heck, it hasn’t even been a year since I lost my mom, I’m starting a whole new career that has no set step-by-step process for success, and I’m navigating the world of dating in the face of all of this grief. Who could blame me for being this anxious?
At the same time, it’s pretty amazing to finally just admit to myself that this is the step I need to take in order to feel more empowered. I’m such a mouthpiece for mental health, and I’m always preaching the message that you need to take care of yourself before you can make progress in your life, or take care of others, and it feels good to be doing something that I know will do that, for me. I’d always been a little hesitant about it, because I grew up feeling like having emotions made me broken, or that not doing well meant that I should be avoided. The several amount of times I heard people in my family say “leave him/her alone, they’re cranky” contributed to that heavily, and I don’t want to have that fear of loneliness due to what I’m feeling, anymore. I don’t want to feel pitied, and then left alone to figure out how to put myself back together.
It’s okay to not feel okay, and it’s okay to need professional help when it gets to be too much.
It’s like having a scab. It’s there, and you may not feel the pain in that scab all the time, but that doesn’t mean the wound isn’t there. For so long, I thought that maybe I was fine because I had gone a while without having really intense anxious thoughts. But like logic would have it, the anxiety just kept getting worse. This last week has been the worst I ever felt, and I can’t imagine what it would be like if it were to be any more unbearable than it is, right now. I don’t know what this appointment has in store for me, and I realize that all my problems won’t go away with just one session, but it feels amazing knowing I’m starting the healing process.
I’m talking about all of this because I don’t want anyone to feel like they can’t get help. When we physically get hurt, we have no hesitations about going to the doctor. It’s so normal, so routine, and you only bat an eye at it because it’s a little scary to see your body in ways it doesn’t normally look. Mental health, like physical health, should not go untreated. If you feel like something is wrong, there’s no shame in making an appointment for therapy and seeing what they can do for you. You shouldn’t have to get to the point where your own thoughts make it hard for you to feel happy.
Thank you for listening. If it would help you to hear more about this journey, please don’t hesitate to let me know. I’m mostly doing this for myself, but if my experience in therapy can help anyone else, I would be willing to talk more about it in the future.
Whoops, that title is a bit misleading. I’m not actually published right now, but I’m in the process of trying to get published! And like most things that we really want to accomplish in life, it isn’t easy, emotionally AND mentally (and maybe just a little physically tiring, but only due to the emotional and mental exhaustion.)
I submitted Stained, a story I shared with you all on here, as well as an academic non-fiction piece I wrote three years ago on Silent Hill 2, and how the childhood innocence of two characters is what protected them throughout the game. The teacher whose class I wrote it for (who also happens to be my absolute favorite college professor) told me I should submit it, because she thought it was amazing! I mean, I did put a lot of thought and analysis into that one, and the fact that she loved it was flattering enough to where I felt it was time to send it in, and try to make it a star.
Of course, the process of trying to get a piece of writing published isn’t just as easy as throwing a word document into cyberspace (I mean, I guess it can be, though? Anything is possible!) I had to review both submissions for basic grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors, as well as have my Silent Hill 2 paper reviewed by another set of eyes (thanks, Kasie!) Then, you have to write a query letter to sum up what you’re trying to do with the written piece. After all that, you get to wait for the dreaded email back, which could take MONTHS, to tell you whether or not they like your piece enough to publish it. The first time I submitted a piece of writing for publication, I think it took them six months to get back to me. Six months of dread does not do your psyche any good, but alas, this is the life of a writer.
Aside from the hit to the psyche, what matters most is that I did it. I submitted works of mine that I’m very proud of, and made one more step in the right direction as far as becoming a published writer. Since this was such a big goal that I set myself for 2017, I barely even notice the dread I feel about whether or not they’ll accept my pieces, because I’m still on the high of actually clicking that “submit” button. It’s been years since I’ve tried submitting something else to a literary magazine, so finally getting back into it really ignited the fire in me to keep creating more written pieces that I can be proud of! (Though in reality, some might end up being garbage. Yay, being an artist!)
I think this is something that a lot of us can struggle with, when it comes to achieving goals. It’s not that we don’t want to accomplish our goals, but the desire to reach them, and the actually process of getting them done are two very different things. Saying we want something to happen gives us the energy to do it, and maintains the desire for the goal to actually happen, but the real satisfaction comes from actually doing the work. I felt so much better about the process of getting published after actually working on it, knowing that what I’m doing is what I need in order to succeed. Despite knowing it may not be easy, sort of like how I know getting published won’t be easy, doing the work and not worrying about the difficulty is really what matters in accomplishing your goals. It’s easy to get swept away in the daydream of succeeding, and though the daydream may be a necessary step, pulling ourselves into reality to make those dreams come true is where things truly get magical.
When you’re working toward a goal, what are some steps you take in order to motivate yourself to do the work in order to achieve it? Let’s get motivational in the comments!