In my senior year of high school I took a screenwriting class. I can’t remember why but part of the class involved speaking in front of a camera. I went into a room with the teacher and the camera. When it was rolling I found myself unable to speak. Not a single sound came from me, though I tried. I was frozen. The words stuck somewhere in my throat and just collecting there. The teacher left the room so that I would feel more comfortable. Nothing changed. I was alone, save for the camera, and I could still produce no sound.
I’ve realized over the last few days that I still experience these symptoms. While I have many story ideas written down, even plotted out I often stop there. I want to write it down. I want to take these ideas out of my brain and make them form something meaningful. However, the thought of putting them out in a physical medium freezes me. I again become the teenage girl who couldn’t produce a single sound. I know like I did in that room with the camera, that what gets written is only for me. I know that it doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect. That it’s not even supposed to be perfect in the first draft. I know that no one is watching or judging me. I still sit with my notebook or in front of my computer and have that same freeze. That same inability to produce a single thing. That same irrational fear.
What I don’t know is how to overcome it. I can reach back and say that nothing I did was ever good enough when I was growing up. That my mother (and only parent) would look at the A’s I got in screen- and creative writing and say “Who cares about writing?”. I know that I judge myself harshly and worry about still never being good enough. I don’t know what to do about it. I don’t know how to break from the stillness and fear and just do the damn thing already.
So that’s my new goal. To figure out how to break past that barrier. To learn to do something that I know makes me happy when I can manage it. Maybe I need to set a routine. Maybe I need to just sit down and write stream of consciousness every morning. I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that I’m tired of being afraid to do the things I want so badly to do. I’m tired of having that seemingly self-imposed restriction. I’m ready to do what it takes to break through it.
It’s hard for me to say that I deserve to be happy. I deserve to enjoy my life. For a very long time I was told, and believed, that I didn’t. Living with chronic physical and mental illness has not really helped dispute that fact. I want to get my degree in Ornithology. I want to work outside the house. I want to run a marathon. I can’t. I should at least be able to enjoy the things that I can do. I deserve that. We all do.