On to the winning essay…
At this moment, I have literally achieved everything I set out to. Nothing has slipped through the cracks.
I graduated from the best public university in the world, was the first student to complete a simultaneous JD/PhD degree in my graduate school, and I even bought and sold a house (with no money down and financed through roommates) to pay off all of my student loans, exactly how I planned. I passed two bar exams in a row, had a wedding from the movies, took a two-month vacation eating and collecting art in Mexico, and now I work at the exact law firm, in the exact position, doing the exact work that I had envisioned.
And… I hate it.
I am incredibly unhappy. Coming to terms with the fact that everything I dreamed of is not what I want has been a real struggle for me lately—in all areas of my life. I am not quite sure what to do about it. I need to do something. But, the advice I receive makes me feel like there may not be a solution for me.
Successful people say that true success comes from picking one thing you are passionate about and mastering it. But I am not a lawyer, I am not a writer, I am not a business woman or politician. I may or may not be all of those things, but certainly don’t know how to pick, and I am afraid that dabbling in a little of everything will ensure me a life of struggle and mediocre success in anything I do.
In fact, I don’t even know how to talk about it. I feel incredibly guilty, all the time, and angry with myself about being dissatisfied with my success.
I was listening to Lena Dunham’s podcast today at 5 am on my way to the airport (she is perhaps my first case of fandom, I love her). This particular episode was about work. She decided to talk about work because one of the criticisms of her book was that she didn’t talk about it enough. She said that when she thought about why she didn’t talk about work, which is actually her favorite thing, was because she was scared. That somehow it felt more appropriate to talk about sex in a public space than her success as a woman in the workplace.
For me though, it isn’t a question of being afraid to talk about workplace success or sex; feminine power or feminine emotion—it’s and. It’s like there always has to be two sides to a working woman, and each has her separate place.
I am sure this is true in the arts, but I think it is especially true as a lawyer / doctor / corporate-whatever where any indication of feeling or emotional reaction is not only taboo, but also counterproductive. I wonder if it is possible for us, as woman, to be all parts of ourselves in the workplace and still maintain professional legitimacy.
Honestly, that is what I am most scared about in publishing my writing. Being both, or all of it together—sexual, professional, emotional, cold, wanting wealth and power, starving for art and obsessed with ideas, while also wanting to give away everything and move to a farm or take up arms and join the revolution.
I am afraid that by revealing more parts of myself, besides the professional stoic woman with a husband and goals of conventional success, will reveal my fraud in all of it. This is not just about being a person and interacting socially, but also in terms of how I spend my days. What my work is.
The truth is that I am impatient. I am easily bored, rarely satisfied, and I want all of the things all of the time. Sometimes I cause problems in my life just see which of the scenarios I have already played out in my mind turns out to be true, and then I push even harder in hopes it turns out to be something I haven’t already thought of.
So the thought of doing only one thing, for an indefinite period of time, terrifies me. I am afraid I will destroy myself and everything around me just so I can keep interested in waking up in the morning. I periodically google one or all of these issues, and what pops up are the myriad of mental health problems I probably have.
Maybe I do. But I guess I still have some hope that there can be a way for crazy woman, like me, to have it all. Do all of the things and feel all of the things and still be successful at one or all of them.
Feeling that scares me, writing about it publicly worries me even more. I am petrified that by sharing the other sides of myself will somehow preclude me from a respected career in case I do choose just one. I am fairly certain it will preclude me from any public office. But that is not the only thing that makes me scared to write.
I am afraid of hurting people. I am afraid that by destroying the vision my peers and loved ones have of me, I will also destroy the part of me in them that they kept close. I am afraid of hurting my family who support me, like if they actually knew all the fucked up things I do and feel they will give up on me, loose respect for me.
My family was surprised to find out that I had smoked pot when I was in high school. Honestly, what is going to happen when they find out that there are almost no drugs I haven’t tried, that I wrote my dissertation on mushrooms, that I have slept with two different lovers in one night, or that I think about death almost every day? I am afraid of hurting my partner, and his entire family if they read any of this. But in writing this now, I think maybe what I am most afraid of, is for me to see my whole self; to let anybody else see that I am hurting too.
I know I don’t have to publish any of the things I write. But I will. Maybe because I am bored and want to push boundaries, maybe because it will mean something. I guess I don’t really care.
In this case, I truly do not know what the outcome will be. Most likely an awkwardly small number of friends and family will read this, we will all feel weird and maybe make some small talk about it once or twice, and then it will fizzle into another failed side project, proving of my fear that I need to pick one thing to do which isn’t what I actually like (writing). But maybe not…
I guess there is only one way to find out.
[callout]Writers Crushing Doubt Writing Course is now open. It’s an online course for anyone who has a sincere desire in becoming the accomplished writer they’re meant to be. The course will only be open for new students for a short period of time, so if you want to get in on the introductory price go check it out here and sign up today! Be sure to scroll down the main page to see all of the curriculum and the bonuses included.[/callout]