Monday, August 8, 2011

Worthlessness

I've come to a terrifying realization about myself.

I am an expert in nothing.

It's not the first time I've had this realization. I actually come to this "realization" probably once every couple weeks. I probably shouldn't call it a realization at all, but I can't come up with a better word for the way I arrive at this particular thought.

It's a cycle, really. I realize that I have no expertise, and am overwhelmed with terror. Then, much as I like to think of myself as an Intelligent and evolved person, my fight or flight response kicks in. And flight is so much easier. Wallow in depression for awhile, then numb my brain with entertaining baubles until the complete worthlessness I feel has been temporarily pushed beneath the surface of my psyche.

It's honestly somewhat amusing that my response to this problem is largely responsible for the continuation of the problem. How stupid do you have to be to keep replacing the band-aid on your bulletwound over and over again?

During my childhood and teenage years, the only consistent thing I ever believed about my adult life is that I would be an expert. Whether my chosen field at the time was Forensic Science, Art, Comic Book Writing, or Video Game Development, I never really dreamed of anything other than being good at what I wanted to do. Money, while useful, has never been important to me, and the very idea of fame was repellant to me even at a young age.

I often say that being educated and trained, and excelling in my work is all I've ever wanted. But even when I say it I know I'm fucking lying. Sure, it may be all I ever wanted to say I wanted, but if it was really all I wanted I could have pulled it off. Truth be told, there's always been something or other I wanted much more in the short term which kept me from working on the building blocks of a successful life.

Even as I write this, I think to myself "At least I'm acknowledging the problem! That's the first step in changing things." True as that may be, though, I know I've thought it before. I've even taken steps to correct my failings before. I set up a schedule, I make plans, I set goals, and within days the effort is a fast fading memory. My determination replaced with sloth. It's happened so often that I can hardly muster the resolve to try anymore, so sure that I'll always fall back into old habits.

And most terrifying at all is that I'm starting to feel content. I hate my job, but the money is good and the end of the day always comes, eventually. And in the hours after work, the misery of the day is forgotten. Drowned in whatever pleasures I'm using that day to shield myself from too much thought. I can't help but imagine myself, fifteen years from now, having given up on my hopes to finish my education. Happy with the annual $50 bump to my weekly pay.

Yet I still don't think I'm scared enough for fight to overcome flight.

There are, at least, a few things where I can claim to be at least adjacent to expertise. Writing is chief among them. I seem to have a natural gift for it. I can talk shop with writers, and they might accept me as a fellow wordcrafter. They might even accept me as a peer. But I know it's as much farce as anything. I produce maybe a single significant piece of work in a given year. Sometimes not that. I may produce dozens, or hundreds, of little bits of writing like these...but what is this? Unpublishable drivel that a real writer pops out in fifteen minutes because they need to write to express themselves. I had to fight and claw just for these few, poorly structured paragraphs.

And while I'm sure that if I worked at it, I could be a good writer, is that even what I want to do? I've called myself a writer for years, even got paid for my writings once, but in moments of honesty I've "joked" that after realizing I wasn't good at anything, I started calling myself a writer because it was easy for me.

Ever tell a sad truth with a smile on your face just so you can admit to something without anybody realizing you aren't telling a joke?

But maybe I'm being just a little unfair to myself on that point. Hard as it is to start working on a blank page, I truly do love storytelling, world crafting, and writing. Perhaps, in the end, I would have chosen to pursue writing.

But the 12 year old inside me who taught himself how to program still wants to know why I never gave him a real chance.

I want to fix this, but I honestly don't know where to start. I'm sure I could get all sorts of trite advice from the Internet. There's probably a WikiHow article titled "How to get more work done" or "How to improve your willpower" with tips like "write a list!" or "pick one thing you love which you're not going to do, then stick to it!"

That shit always sounds good on paper.

I guess that's all I have to say. It's probably the most honest I've ever been in my writing. I still don't know if I'm going to let anyone see this...

...but oddly enough, I'm not depressed.

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