Obstacles (52 weeks of writing)

This is not another piece of content. I’m tired of content.

I have some good recipes that worked well over the years – a keyword here, a paragraph there, work for the search engine, make it sound natural, simple, logical, and step-by-step. But I got ill again recently and realized I’m obsessed with work and need to take a break, at least during my out-of-office hours.

A girl has no name, and content has no face, no tone, no voice, no personality.

It’s all the same, and it’s very useful to skim through it, find the 1, 2, 3 step-by-step top 20 best tips of (insert year here) for (insert niche, check Google keyword planner) all (insert position) should know/learn/see. But it’s boring. Impersonal. Generic.

I stopped writing years ago.

At the beginning of my career, I used to love being a content writer. I was very young and too self-conscious to write essays or publish my personal musings. Fresh out of school it was astounding to receive an assignment about a niche I knew nothing about and spend an entire night in research, skipping from topic to topic, reading what others wrote, depersonalizing it, and then writing down everything I learned. Hell, people were even paying me for that! It was a dream come true, I honestly remember my 18-year-old excited self writing a guide on 50s cornucopia glass pieces.

I honestly thought that it doesn’t get better than this, and this would be what I do for the rest of my life – playing World of Warcraft and producing content. I was wrong, of course, very naive and shallow, too, but as I wrote this memory down, a brisk bolt of adolescent anticipation ran through me. And it’s beautiful.

I moved to operations and managing people a while back. No one cares if I write, don’t write, or can’t write at all. But for some reason, every once in a while some weird urge of showing that I still got it or something comes up, and here I am again. There’s something about writing, it doesn’t matter if you’re really great at it or not, that makes you feel like you’re part of a secret club. A club of wordsmiths, of magicians who can make people feel, see and even smell things that don’t exist.

So this is me, writing for myself. Writing for the joy of it. Not because I need to produce content or because it’s part of my job. But because I want and need to.

Yes, I’m still keen on productivity and existing as a human doing, rather than a being. I completely understand how toxic and unhealthy it might be, and I still enjoy envisioning myself as an overachieving go-getter. But I’m trying to learn to be more attuned to my body and mind’s needs. So I’m gonna shake things a bit. My posts are going to be moody, scattered, and all over the place. Just like me.

If you’re still reading this, thank you for indulging me and for being here.

This lengthy intro was to say that I struggle so much with keeping promises to myself and doing anything for the pure joy of it only, that I need to commit 100% and blow it way out of proportion. I am so toxic to myself that I literally need peer pressure to do anything fun. I’m the person that needed to enroll in a months-long professional photography course with a group of students just to find the time to take a few shots. When I started losing weight, I went training with a running team that was expecting an Olympic level of commitment. Went snowboarding 3 times? Ok, let’s have a full season in the mountain and not skip a day of training on the slopes.

The list goes on and on. And I’m writing this because I felt the urge to write in my journal. So what did I do? I enrolled in a 52-week creative writing course. Yes, I’m laughing right now.

But I’m doing it. Because I need to learn how to just do things for the joy of it and not because I need to get better, or even decent, or because I want to achieve something. Just because I want to and it feels good.

So this is me, starting my 52 weeks of essays. The first topic is “Obstacles”. So there it is – my biggest obstacle. As cliché as they come – Me.

And my wide shut third eye is whispering that the same goes for you, too. So let’s be nice to ourselves, shall we? But before we get all touchy-feely, let me write a reminder of the darkness that’s integral to human nature. The light can’t exist without the dark. And just like there’s no true happiness without sadness, there’s no creativity without destruction.

I pay a hefty fee of downsides for my upsides. I know this about myself, and I’ve come to terms with it. But that doesn’t make it any easier to live with. I’m an all-or-nothing type of person. And that can be great when it comes to creative endeavors, but it’s not so great when it comes to, well, daily life.

The biggest obstacle I face is myself. I’m the one that sets impossible standards and then gets frustrated when I can’t meet them. I’m the one that neglects my own needs and then wonders why the haunting feeling of being unfulfilled never goes away. I’m the one that puts so much pressure on myself to be productive and achieve things that I forget to enjoy the process.

I used my fear of failure as an excuse to not even start. I used my lack of motivation as an excuse to not start. I used my perfectionism as an excuse to not start. I used my insane schedule as an excuse to not start.

And no, all this isn’t to say that I’ll do things differently from now on and I’m opening a new page. I’m not. I’m just acknowledging it, almost enjoying it, actually. And I invite you to do the same with whatever obstacle you put in your way.

I’m so used to generalizing and trying to fit in, being politically correct, and not voicing out strong opinions, that it feels liberating to just write and not hold back. Writing is so liberating, empowering, and daunting all at the same time. Being exposed is scary as hell, but it’s also the only way to grow. My new mantra is “Write about it, then let it go”.

Being bubbly, perfect, happy, and content is overrated. Having it all and all under control is an illusion or a well-crafted social media strategy. And it doesn’t make for interesting reading, does it?

So, here’s to a year of growth, self-discovery, and writing essays that would make my English teacher cringe. A year of writing essays about being a grownup teenager, dark and moody, melancholic and magical. A year of exploring different topics. And a year of being vulnerable and real.

Week one down, 51 to go.