Angst of the Creative Adult

Unabridged title: “Angst of the Creative Adult Who Started the Journey Toward Publishing “Just Before Social Media” and is Feeling Left Behind.”

 

Dissatisfaction. What a feeling. How can a 38-year-old be angst ridden? Isn’t that something for teenagers and twenty-something’s? I’ve learned as I have lived through my thirties, (now closing out the last couple years of it) that this is BY FAR the hardest decade of my life. Why? Because in your thirties, all of the responsibilities of life are upon you. Yes, at least, you can get past all the social BS that goes with being in your twenties, all the relationship BS, etc. You know what you want and you know how to get it. You’re not afraid to go after what you want nor are you afraid to stay in a situation because you are putting yourself first. But that’s just it, now you HAVE to do these things. There are no more delays or “by the time I’m 40, I’ll have this or that accomplished” type of ideas. No one makes excuses for people in their 30s (nor should they).

Here’s the reality I feel. You ARE almost 40 and you HAVEN’T done all the things you said you would by now. Sure, as a kid, you can’t know how difficult life is to navigate and can be quite naïve about how the world works, but by the time you’re in your mid-thirties, you would hope that most of your money and relationship and especially your CAREER would be just where you wanted it – in a grand place only heading higher. I’m not talking about big business or rising the ranks, but becoming the person you always saw yourself as, or who you know you are capable of becoming.

It’s a bitter pill to swallow, when you realize you haven’t put the commitment and discipline to your projects the way you could have. You realize how distracted you have let yourself became by life – by finding love, falling in love, falling out of love, and then finding love again, dealing with family issues, debt, etc. And before you turn around, seven years have gone by and your thirties are almost over. WTF happened? Why have I not already become a massively successful novelist or magazine publisher?

Why do I see all these 17-year-olds with huge contracts with marketing and development firms because they created a sensation on social media?

That’s all it takes these days. I’m a little bitter, but more, I’m pissed. Where were all these platforms in my teens and early 20s when I had all the inspiration and fire and passion burning in me (and all that damn extra time) to create? Moreover, why have I not JUMPED on them now that they are available? It’s not technology’s fault that it came late for me. But it still feels like I’ve been left behind.

My forum was to email and mail in submissions, buy books on what publishers wanted. Of course, I had the internet for research and forums and making connections, but we had like, Myspace. There weren’t apps yet when I was in college. Social media was just beginning (no FB just yet) and smart phones were just on the cusp. Companies and producers weren’t looking for people online. That wasn’t the culture. Creative people before 2007 had to still rely on working their way up, getting noticed by their work and dogged persistence in turning in submission after submission after pitch after pitch, not by their online platform.

I was heavily committed to buying all the publishing industry books on what publishers and editors and movie producers were looking for and I feverishly cranked things out, all while going to networking events, workshops, being in college clubs, going to school, etc. All that energy and drive had me going in many directions, always certain that I’d hit a big writing career along the way and by now, would be living in my mountain estate, cranking out novel after novel while managing my magazine. Ah, what a vision.

Now you can create a following on any one of the current social apps (so long as you take the time to post non-stop, constantly creating new content on a daily basis) and you may get recruited by some big company giving you an even bigger paycheck. Not saying that’s what I want, but I envy the opportunities available to those with plenty of time on their hands today – they can actually make a career out of a hobby.

Well hell, if I had all this shit when I was teenager and writing YA novels and short stories (all submitting via mail or email) – I know I could have created something bigger. I KNOW IT. I used to meet with friends and others and we wrote movies together. We would meet and develop ideas together. But we did not have an instant forum for them. We had to enter contests and wait to hear back. Submit manuscripts and email and wait and wait and finally get a rejection…and try again.

I may have had a chance to “get there” by my own devices a lot sooner simply because I had more time and less responsibility. Sure, an 18-year-old has time to create 6-second videos ALL DAY LONG and the energy and passion of creative youth is perfect for social media. But by the time you’re in your thirties – if you haven’t gotten “there” yet, you are slowing the pace just by simply dealing with L-I-F-E. Buying a home, a car, starting a family, etc.

But WHAAAA? Really? Yes, it sucks and life isn’t fair and yada, yada, yada. I know I’m whining but I’m merely venting. I don’t blame anyone or hate them for their success. The trick is to not compare and feel less-than simply because others accomplish things I’d like to accomplish. Instead, I can use it for fuel.

I refuse to sit back and stay bitter. Instead I can use the opportunities that are now available and use my passion to make it happen. Even if it takes me a little longer and requires further understanding, I can navigate in this new publishing world, too.

The passion is there, but the challenge is finding the will to do all the work in the wake of your…sigh…real job.

 

And yes, at least my real job is creative – I am editor of two magazines. They may not be national, but they are well liked in my community and it generates the feelings that I like to get from a job well done. But it’s NOT my ultimate destination.

I have found that working in a creative job, as a writer, especially, that is it is all the more difficult to create on your own time. But it CAN and HAS been done. It just takes even more will, more time, more desire to make yourself write for you, everyday, to get there one bit at a time.

 

It has been a very tough and busy year. I got the editor job last year (just when I was revving up this blog and my other creative projects), but this year, right in January, I had to say goodbye to my sweet, dear Golden Retriever. By far, that is the worst grief I have ever felt. It was so very acute. I mean, since I lost my father at 12-years-old, that is. But that grief is distant. My dog, my sweet Penny, was everything to me and so suddenly she was gone. I was distraught.

Yet at the same time, I was planning a wedding (a New Orleans jazz wedding with parade and all, no less) with the love of my life. Grief and Joy all at one.

In January a horrible thing happened, and in April, a wonderful and joyous thing happened. Talk about a roller coaster.

It has taken its toll and I have not been writing for myself. Not enough to post a blog. I haven’t posted a FREAKIN’ blog since Feb. Why? Because I just didn’t have the emotional energy to dip into the swelling wave that has been building.

So now I am blowing this up, stream of consciousness style, to get it OUT of my HEAD and onto the page.

Where have I been all year? What am I doing? A trajectory that was started two years ago has slowed steadily and I am in angst.

If I am so dissatisfied with the slowness of my progression with a blog and writing my next book, why am I not making the time to write? Why? Why do I do this to myself?

On some level, I must be afraid to follow through. Not because of failure, but because of success. Success in terms of seeing an idea come to fruition comes from the act of continually feeding that idea and growing it. In my mind’s eye, that’s what I want, but it takes a lot of work and discipline to get there.

The work I can do, the discipline is a challenge. Staying consistently committed to a schedule is my biggest weakness. But my tenacity of wanting something often can overpower my atrophied discipline muscle to power through almost anything.

Woe is me for not doing more with my time. Woe is me for spending too much time vegging out and disconnecting and escaping from everyday life.

The vodka shots won’t help. The smoke won’t help. Only doing what is in my heart will help and only fleshing out my ideas creatively will bring me true satisfaction.

I’m not so stuck on “making it” like I was in my youth. I have matured and I am happy with a lot of my life, but that dissatisfaction (deep down) of not doing all that I am capable of, of not following through on a creative idea I started, is what leads to my angst.

Why can’t I just be happy with where I am, professionally? Because I just can’t. I want more. I always have. And I know I can get it.

I just have to do it. I’ve accepted the reality that I am a late bloomer. That’s better than no bloom at all.

 

I see Them. I see You. I see Me. Woman Sees World.

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Accepting the Self – a Poem

Feeling my way back toward

Inner happiness and acceptance.

What is the path, where is the start?

Here and now, me, within – not outside

Take me, Lead me, Show Me, Follow Me

Passion surging my brain, seeking outlet

Then blocked, reopened and spilling forth.

Ebb and flow, waves of anger and acknowledgment

Acceptance and letting go – what they did, what I did.

I define me, even in midst of swirling uncertainties, only me, only I.

Finding a way back to inner truth, inner reflection, inner acceptance

Brings an understanding to my own heart and mind – I am who I am

Whether it seems like it or not, that is enough, even though it isn’t, it is.

Tears of pain, anguish at lost time, struggle and strife to find my way, freedom.

Realizing my own creation within, storm brewing in my mind as a framework

For my next big thing, project, path, work…me, my identity in my work, strong,

But it doesn’t control me, for I do that now, for the detours are closed, for I am.

Right now, time eternal, myself, my life, is good enough, even though it isn’t, it is.

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I see Them. I see You. I see Me. Woman Sees World.

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Accepting Adulthood

It’s a bitter pill to swallow the day you realize you are an adult and nothing else can be put off. Everything I don’t have is my fault. It’s nothing circumstantial nor can I blame it on that I still have some growing up to do; no external forces direct anything in my life – it’s all me. I’m a grown up, responsible for everything that does and doesn’t happen in her life. Not just in theory, but for real. And it sure hurts to feel like you’ve wasted time and energy, held yourself back, but you did. We all do, and it’s when we realize it’s time for transformation that the pain sets in, but it’s the good pain, the pain that leads to growth like a fatigued muscle that is weakened upon exertion but rebuilds stronger in recovery.

Tears, feelings of anguish, wanting more from life than ordinary, status quo – realizing that I’m still there, having not quite yet broken that barrier to greatness. I’m extraordinary and I’ve created and experienced such moments of WOW, yet so far my life feels pretty ordinary – not dissatisfied ordinary – just stuck in the linear cycle of life instead of staying the course of strong inspiration to push through setbacks.  My trajectory out of school had always been WAY high on the slant.  In my early to mid 20s it was like I was shot out of a cannon only to get stuck in some thick mud of my own creation by the early to mid-thirties.

I feel stunted, have felt stunted the last five years whilst rebuilding myself after a HUGE life change (leaving a marriage) and thrusting myself into even more mud by returning to a job that always made me feel trapped, just because I was afraid of financial ruin. I was worried about potentially missing out on seeming “short cuts” to regain financial freedom that would then allow me the real independence of working for myself and from my own creations. The haze I put myself in starting at 31 when I left my husband until now (newly 37) make me want to cry, yet valuable learning has been and still is taking place. I’m on the other side of that time – the big life event/s. When I left my ex, I was making the choice to GO FOR IT – to go for that life I always wanted and could see slipping away from me everyday I stayed in a marriage that I didn’t want to be in, faking my happiness at home.

What horrible, wonderful lessons and growth I’ve had since that fateful time almost six years ago. I’ve been retreating and defending myself, whilst slowly putting a toe in the water millimeters at a time…putting it in, then taking it back out…retreating and jumping in and back out again. I was growing and evolving in some areas all while putting myself in a cocoon of what was safe and normal and comfortable. Before long I had lost my way and my passion for the one thing I always knew I wanted to do with my life – write, publish, communicate, connect people and ideas. I was too busy running a small family business and responding to external demands of survival that instead of strengthening within, I looked for ways to numb out and I lost some of myself…for a while.

Now that I am fully back, and my psyche is surveying what I’ve been through the past few years and where I want to be and can be and could’ve been at any time I wanted, the safety mechanisms don’t appeal to me anymore.  All the defense mechanisms and emotional protection in my 20s just don’t work now in my 30s. I require new tools and I am developing them. Childhood, youthful naiveté about people and society and work and money and love and the subsequent whining about why the world is so effed up (while numbing yourself to the stresses)…is OVER!  O – V – E – R!

It’s like a HUGE bright Light is glaring at me from the end of a tunnel where the haze has finally dissipated and I can see it, and the Light is saying – HEY – THERE YOU ARE! I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU TO STOP HIDING BEHIND YOUR FEARS AND PUTTING OFF LIFE. REALITY CHECK – YOU’VE WASTED SOME VALUABLE TIME and ENERGY.  LET THAT GO AND MOVE ON!  GET OUT OF THIS TUNNEL AND GO BE YOUR BEST SELF!!

It’s like a punch in the gut and throat, all at once. Oh the tears, the sobbing, uncontrollably, off and on, for hours as I process such thoughts, and, with brutal honestly, review my last few years and how I let the stress of the world make me retreat. ME, the fearless one who will say anything to anyone and take on any challenge – became afraid of the big, bad, world! And I didn’t even realize I was – I just blamed it on the external demands – but deep down we ALL know that’s an excuse.

I create my reality and right now, in this very moment, I create SYNERGY with my mind, body, emotions and spirit to be the ME I know, the ME I was all set to be until I let LIFE get in the way. She’s back and badder (in a good way) than ever!

The past six years were a true test. For far too long I have been juuuuust passing at life. Not good enough!! I plan to ACE the rest of life!

Stay tuned for more from WSW author (me) and my interviewees!

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