When I started blogging (a very long three weeks ago), I was worried that I would run out of things to talk about; that my page would become neglected and cobweb infested and soon, no one would even remember that my (hopefully) witty observations made them laugh. Turns out I was totally wrong–I have way too much to talk about.
I know, I know, I shouldn’t be complaining about how many ideas I have, especially when others are groping in the dark for something–anything–to talk about on their blogs. However, I do feel the need to point out that this sort of “embarrassment of riches,” is just as much a curse as it can be a blessing. Many times, I am inundated with so many ideas that they often get jumbled and confused like last year’s Christmas lights with no actual hope of untangling them. Even when I do managed to unthread a thought from the snarl of ideas, the idea suddenly starts opening up like Matryoshka dolls, spilling out even more ideas to overwhelm me.
One of my biggest issues with essay writing has always been finding a focus because the many focal points that occur to me are all worthy of consideration. The main problem with that is my writing then becomes an unfocused mish-mash of thoughts and views that are often disconnected and/or rambling. Even researching a topic is fraught with my meandering ideas about what I should be looking up or how to proceed with writing my opinions. The more passionate I am about the topic, the less clear it becomes for me on how to write the flippin’ thing. And, because I am a terrible procrastinator and perfectionist, I often put off the research and writing, excusing/abusing myself with the belief that I’d only fuck it up anyway, so why bother.
And so, that is how I have spent this last week and a half: trying to narrow down the topics that I wanted to write about while simultaneously staving off my ridiculous perfectionism just to be able to put words to post. (Though, to be honest, there were a few inebriated days this passed Labor Day weekend that took me out of the blogging mindset. It was a good thing, trust me. Drunken texting is bad enough, but drunken blog posts–extremely bad idea.) That’s when I began to really start questioning why it was so hard for me to do this, and that’s when my past insecurities about writing surfaced like bloated corpses.
One of those insecurities is tied to my education. When I was about eight or nine, I found my report card that my mother had received in the mail. In it, my homeroom teacher said of my writing that it was “…silly and childish.” Being a little kid, I took it very personally; as an adult, I have the capacity of seeing it objectively. That objectivity, however, actually makes the callousness of my teacher all the more appalling. Granted, I was probably not meant to read her comments, but that does not make them any less bullshit. I defy anyone to find a second grader who isn’t sometimes “silly and childish.” It comes with the territory. Sadly, she was not the only teacher to be hyper-critical of my shortcomings through my school years. I failed nearly all of my English classes (not just English, in fact I was a high school drop-out, opting instead to get my GED and get on with my life) until college where, ironically, I received my first ‘A’ ever in College Composition 1.
Another fear for me is tied to my relationship with my father. He was a very intelligent man; my brother and I would question him endlessly about everything we could think of, in some cases just to see if we could stump him. Instead, he would always have an answer, and when we asked how he knew all this stuff, he would answer simply: “I know everything.”
On the surface of it, he came across as a very smart guy, but the darker reality was that he was also an intellectual bully. He often used his intelligence to belittle and control people. His children were not exempt from this.
One particular instance happened when I was approximately eleven springs to mind. On a weekend visit to my father’s house, I shared an interesting fact I had learned in school that week about sharks–they need to keep swimming in order to breath. (Not entirely accurate, but that was the state of shark knowledge in the mid-80s.) Instead of being interested or even a little bit proud at my trying to emulate him, he became condescending and insulting saying that he saw a nature special where they showed stationary sharks in an underwater cavern. When I was unable to explain this, he dismissed me with a wave of his hand.
It was nearly twenty years later when I confronted him about this (in the mean time having seen the nature special he was referring to, the sharks in that particular show were in an oxygen-rich cavern where constant movement was unnecessary). I asked him why he did that to me, and told him that he had gotten his facts wrong anyway. He answered, “I had to control you somehow.”
I was floored. He then went on to explain that my budding intelligence and questioning nature was a threat to his authority and he was afraid of the prospect of having to deal with an intellectually superior teenager–so, he actively undermined my self-confidence to keep me in line.
Here’s the really shitty part about all of this: I still have those assholes’ voices in my head telling me my aspirations are childish and silly and that I’ll never attain them anyway because my knowledge and skills will never be good enough. Now, I know that my insecurities aren’t so much grounded in reality as much the skewed view of reality imposed on me by the emotionally stunted people I was supposed to be able to trust with my fragile child’s ego. I really do have to stop listening to those voices, they suck.
Wow, this post became a little more soul-baring than I intended, but then I suppose it needed to be said otherwise I might still be floundering about for a topic to write about.
Hmm… Funny how that works out.