I was in the middle of writing another post when I got the ever-appreciated ding that a friend had sent me a message via Facebook chat. I met this friend (let's call her N. to keep her anonymous) in the writing program I was in. We shared a room at a conference and generally got along splendidly because of some similarities in our pasts. Both of us had our share of mental health issues and had spent time in psychiatric units. We discussed our various medications with no small amount of glee. And we both found ourselves struggling after graduation, both of us having difficulty finding our way in the world. We kept in vague touch, although neither knew the full story of what happened with the other person.
So N. asked how I was doing, and I decided to come clean with the story of my relapse and what I was up to now, and I was relieved to hear what kind of support I got. It was so nice to just share what had been going through my mind, and how I felt like our program screw up because of all my issues. And N. said, basically, no, I couldn't be the program screw up because that job was hers. I was just about to assure her that this was one job she was safe resigning from when I had to laugh. It was like those interminable conversations with other people at treatment, as to who was the fattest. And everyone always insisted it was them no matter how often the other girls said that no, they were the fattest ones there. It was a losing argument, and no one ever had an accurate idea of their true shape and size and the end of the discussion, but we always persisted on having them anyways.
Still, it was reassuring to know that someone else was floundering in life and thinking they were a failure and wondering how they were going to be a successful writer when all they could see was this big black wall of FAILURE sitting in front of them.
As I was chatting with N., I was reminded of a visit our program got by someone who had graduated several years previously. She told us of how much of her early career could be described in one word: flailing. All of us in the program laughed nervously, knowing that this experience was waiting for us, too.
And it was. It really, really was.
So I reminded N. about this quote, and I told her: Maybe we're not failing. Maybe we're just flailing.
She agreed and the conversation drifted, as conversations tend to do. We eventually started talking about our current writing projects, me with my freelance projects and her with her novel. Then N. said something rather profound Just sitting down to write every day is an act of amazing courage on my part.
I had to agree.
It's hard for me to express to other people just how much courage I have to muster up to get through the day, how much energy it takes to look "normal" sometimes. Sometimes getting out of bed is an amazing act of courage. Eating sure is.
We all have things--courageous things--that we do every single day. Just because they're ordinary doesn't make them any less courageous.