There’s only one person in life you should worry about disappointing. It’s not your helicopter parents or your 92-year-old grandmother or your husband/wife/Siamese fighting fish. It’s yourself. There’s nothing worse in this life than letting yourself down.
Write that in a Hallmark card or in your diary or some shit.
In September of 2011, I set out to watch every single Best Picture winner in the history of the Academy Awards: my Epic Film Quest, my white whale. I’ve been blogging about the experience. chronicling the trials, tribulations and difficulties that come along with taking on an 86 film marathon of 3 hour+ behemoth period pieces, war films, and characters stricken with very dramatic adversities. (I’m still dreading Ben Hur. It might murder me in my sleep.) If you couldn’t tell by the title here: I haven’t finished yet and I hate myself.
This year, nestled comfy-cozy in a day job that I like very much, I started feeling bogged down and antsy. Unfulfilled, negativity clouded my shaky brain, which was already reeling, questioning the many decisions I’ve made throughout this thing called life. And hey – I have nothing to complain about, but when you feel like you aren’t pursuing your passion or achieving your goals, those feelings start bleeding into the rest of your life. (It’s a gory process, kids. Avoid the splatter zone.)
I promised myself that 2014 was going to be a year of change! I wrote about why I hate New Year’s resolutions and what bullshit they are (which I still believe). I would finally get to that play I’ve been sketching out! I’d collaborate with some cool writer friends and pen a script for a web series! I’d write that dramedy book currently residing in my brain space! (Seriously, it’s kicked back in the most luxurious leather recliner, feet up, with a nice bourbon in hand. I can’t escape it.)
I did none of these things. I am a sad panda.
Another moment of self-sabotage came when I was writing a personal piece about music – what it means to me and how it helped shape my path in college and beyond. Draft after draft, I dug deep, scrapping leads, swapping out quotes, re-writing the ending – three times. When it was almost completed, somewhere around draft six or seven, I deleted the entire thing in a bout of Mary Jane-fueled paranoia. I regretted it once the smoke cleared. I still regret it.
I can’t tell if it’s the security of a day job or raging uncertainty that prevents me from getting these stories out of my brain and into the world. This year was supposed to be major, yet instead, I spent the year bugging out about the number of Twitter followers I don’t have, torturing myself about deleting my fleeting moments of expression, and unsuccessfully attempting to motivate myself. I felt creative – but was unproductive. Tom Petty had it all wrong. The starting is the hardest part.
It’s time to cut the shit. It’s time this film quest came to an end. It’s time to write this damn book already. It’s time to spank the inner moppet. Trying and failing beats never trying at all (Ahh, cliches! Run!) But even if my Best Pic blogs don’t earn me a single follower or reader, and even if my future maybe-novel never sees the light of day, at least I’ll have completed something to be proud of. And if I finish something I can be proud of, then maybe I’ll stop torturing myself and all this heaviness will finally lift.
I’m writing this now because I know there are others out there just like me going through the same thing. Whether you’re writers, actors, playwrights, directors, musicians – it’s hard to get your head out of the bong, focus, and do what your guts
are telling need you to. This is the youngest you’ll ever be! You control your own happiness! Even more clichés, too! Hit the pause button on everything else in life until you can share your creation and let that be your motivating factor. Don’t pay attention to YouTube views, blog comments, Twitter followers, or lack thereof – all of these extraneous numbers don’t mean shit. Repeat this to yourself often. (I think Aaliyah said it or something, so it must be true.) And never delete a draft of anything. You never know when you’ll muster the courage to revisit or repurpose something.
It’s GO time, guys. So I circled back with my Best Picture shenanigans and crossed 12 Years A Slave (2013), Mrs. Miniver (1942) and Gandhi (1982) off the list. Twenty-two more to go. Let’s do this.
Finish what you started, asshole.