Writers, especially young writers, new writers, writers who have not had that much experience with the craft, are often advised to write what they know, write stuff about which they can say something, anything. Although on the whole I do not find it an unsound advice—in fact it is a great way to jumpstart the mind, get the juices flowing—I believe there is a better way to go about it. Instead of writing what you do know, write about the things that you don’t. Write not about falling in love, say, but about how that certain someone makes you feel and why you think it is love you’re feeling in the first place. Don’t write about the beauty of the sun sinking under the horizon, or the tranquil glow of freshly fallen snow on the pavement; write about the visceral responses these visual cues trigger in you. Write about art and death, about feminism and patriarchy and racial inequality. Writing this way forces the mind to engage with a concept, to thread a coherent narrative line in order to make sense of it, render it less obscure, understand it. And there are plenty of things I don’t know.
I am talking about the things I don’t know only because I recently realized that despite my fervid insistence to the contrary, I am just as clueless as the next person claiming they know anything at all. I have been clinging to this misguided belief (that I am smart and I know a lot and therefore I should not be suffering as I am) to the detriment of my mental health, so in an effort to unburden myself and let the universe do its work instead of trying to control everything around me, I am writing this by way of surrendering it all.
With the sheer amount of course work that I need to do for university, I had imagined that I would not have the time, much less the energy, to maintain another website, but I figured that it would be great to write for myself again. After all, we all have this duty to ourselves to make sure that our own selves are happy and content and taken care of—or as happy and content and cared for as we can make ourselves to be given the circumstances. If we are to be of any real value to ourselves and to others, we need to look after ourselves first.
This is me trying to keep my cup full.
But then again this is less an effort to make myself better (because I don’t think that’s for a digital journal to resolve) than to catalogue where I am and what I am doing and feeling and in the process maybe understand why I feel a certain way about a certain thing. Which I think is a step toward the right direction.
So here are some of the things that I don’t know.
I don’t know, for example, why the man I loved more than anything else in the world decided he no longer wanted to be with me when he was reason I am here in the first place, why he did not see my moving ten thousand miles to be with him as a testament of my love. I don’t know, for example, why now that I have finally found the courage to put myself out there and wear my heart on my proverbial sleeve I am more alone than I ever have been. I don’t know why, for example, I still find myself so uncentered and out of alignment when there are so many things going right in my life. I don’t know why I’m hurting when at every turn I’m making every intention to focus on the path of least resistance. I don’t know why in exchange for kindness I am given a cold shoulder. I don’t know why despite my professors’ insistence that I can write, that I’m a good writer, a competent writer, I still don’t believe I can. And I don’t know whether or not putting things down to paper—or in this case a digital journal—will actually help sort everything out, but I remain hopeful.
I guess what I am trying to tell you, and in a way myself also, is that I am trying—to work harder, love harder, be braver, and kinder—especially to myself when I feel I least deserve it. And of course to be more grateful. I don’t think I will ever run out of things to be grateful for. Some years ago I had slowly descended into the depths of depression and anxiety, a cold dark place that some days I wake finding myself still in, but whereas before there was only gloom now there are more shafts of bright light piercing through the clouds looming large. It is also a tad bit warmer there now, and the air a lot less stifling. At the end of the day that is all I can ask myself, really, to try and just keep at it.