Weekend Diversions 8.12.16

Deep breath. Every time I take a break from writing here, I am overcome with anxiety about returning. I know this is a common theme in my writing, and I apologize for the redundancy. But I am still always awed at how quickly I can fall out of practice and then confidence with writing.

Writing is one of the most difficult things I do, but also the most rewarding. I forget, though, about the rewards when I am mired in fear that I will have nothing good to say. That it will be too hard to find words, that my ideas are asinine, that I have lost my ability to articulate thoughts. And then comes the excuse of not enough time, that I would write, if only I didn’t have to (fill in the blank with absolutely anything, from eat breakfast to wash dishes to call my mom to work). Everything becomes an excuse when I allow anxiety to take over.

And somehow, no matter how many strategies I try, worksheets I fill out, solutions I write about in my journal, I have yet to find a way to make writing, here or anywhere, stick. I do write in my many notebooks daily, but those are private thoughts and are often left unfinished. My notebook writing does not feel legitimate because it has no purpose. I guess that begs the follow-up question: does writing here have a purpose? Somehow, sharing my thoughts with the world, however small my readership, does feel more like “real” writing, because it has the chance to connect with someone.

My favorite writing to read is honest, raw, authentic and makes me feel less alone in my crazy head. My hope is that my words will have a similar influence.

Admitting I want my words to reach others, to have an impact, leaves me feeling vulnerable. Will you, reader, judge me harshly for this hubris? Will you laugh at my overly-large intentions?

Because I do not know if my words have worth outside of my own head. This doubt is what has kept me from writing consistently in public. The fear that I am silly, and my desire to connect through my words is foolish.

I do not know how to dismantle this fear, other than to continue showing up here to write as often as I can manage. Because I can’t grow if I do not do the work.

I recently listened to an interview with Olympian Kate Grace in which she talks about her struggles with commitment to running and how she rededicated herself to the sport. I often think of running and writing as linked in my life, with running often taking priority even though writing is provides equal (sometimes more) fulfillment. Kate’s words resonated and reminded me that if I want to write, if I want to see how far writing can take me, I must show up. I might not succeed once I am here, but I cannot make any progress if I stay away from my computer.

My graduate school program begins in less than a month, and I know I will have to be extra vigilant to ensure that writing for pleasure is not subsumed beneath class and stress. I enjoy having this outlet and I hope it will provide a good counterbalance to the demands of academia. This space provides me with a freedom of expression I have not felt in other places. Once I begin typing, my anxiety about writing diminishes. I am relaxed here. I do not want to my excuses to take this away from me.

As a way to failsafe my writing, I am going to schedule time here on my calendar. I am going to make my words a priority. I really hope that this sticks.

And now, for a bit of weekend reading.

  1. Simone Biles: “I’m not the next Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt, I’m the first Simone Biles.” This woman is my new hero. I am awed by her ability to propel herself multiple feet into the air, do somersaults, and land with grace (among other superhuman feats). I am even more impressed, though, by her poise. Throughout her competitions, she has forced the media to focus on the sport. And she demands equal treatment for her accomplishments. She is an athlete in her own right, and she is amazing.
  2. A closer look at Simone Manuel, Olympic Medalist, History Maker:Simone Manuel made history last night with her tied win in the 100m freestyle. She is the first African-American woman to win an individual medal in Olympic swimming. I missed her full race because I was at work and NBC is very proprietary with the footage (only the last few seconds are available for free online without a cable subscription). But I am overjoyed that she was able to create this historic moment out of years of dedication to swimming. Like all Olympic athletes, she performed at an unfathomable level. She is open about the historic nature of her accomplishment, and hopes her performance inspires more diversity in the sport.
  3. Olympic sprinter Morgan Mitchell on being a vegan, tattoos and her dreams of designing: A quick profile of Australian sprinter Morgan Mitchell, who credits her vegan diet with gains in fitness and speed. She will compete in the 400m trials on August 13, and will move on from there.
  4. Lauren Fleshman: From retiring to rewiring: Not an Olympic runner, but a world champion and multiple-record holder, Lauren Fleshman has made the decision, after years of battling a foot injury, to retire. In this piece she explains, with eloquence, what the change means for her in her daily life, and how she has made peace with giving up on her dream of competing again at an elite level. Lauren is a beautiful writer, and her perspective on running and balance is always wonderful to read. The New York Times also ran a profile of Lauren at her retirement, which is worth a look as well.

That’s it for today. Have a wonderful weekend, and I hope to be here again soon!