I think I fall into the trap of thinking, even subconsciously, that everything I post in this space has to be polished and clever. I’m here to today to tell myself, “Self, no! You need not be polished nor clever! You just need to dang write!!”
So I’m dang writing. Here’s me with fingers on keys. I’ve had some free time at home this week and I’ve been sort of wobbling my way through it with a big list in my head of things to do that I’ve been sort of tip-toeing around. Wobbling and tip-toeing, that’s me in a nutshell. The big list is important, but it also makes me feel panicky, so I often avoid it by poking at social media, switching tabs a lot, and running through the list again and again in my head. Not good.
I try to remind myself that I can only do one thing at a time, the same thing I tell myself when I’m barista-ing and I’m elbow deep in steamed almond milk and there’s a twelve-drink-deep rush happening. One. Dang. Thing. At. A. Time. Screw all those people who say on resumes that they are good at multitasking. No one SHOULD be good at multitasking! Multitasking is terrifying and I only have one brain and I need all of it to do most things!
So one thing at a time. Right now I am writing a thing. That’s one thing. The only thing I need to do right now.
What a relief.
I’ve been thinking a lot about artists and their work, and how much perseverance and pluck it takes to get anything at all done or to choose anything at all. Artists sort of seem like superheroes to me, except I sort of marginally consider myself to be an artist and I do not by any means consider myself to be a superhero. It makes me feel a little unbalanced when I start to feel like the work of artists is unobtainable for me. But this only happens because I feel like I have to do a million things at once when really I can only do one. One thing at once. The word is once. ONcE.
It’s not unobtainable, it just requires doing things. Choosing things and doing things, both of which all humans are inherently capable of doing. We just get stuck sometimes. I choose things and do things all day every day, but usually the wrong things at the wrong times, and now at 23 I’m barely starting to have enough willpower to try to drink even a little bit of water every day. Baby steps.
I want to practice making things happen. Choosing a thing and doing it. Maybe that means small goals. Maybe that means accountability. Maybe that means setting timers or bribing myself or childish useful things like that.
For now, I made a list on an index card of things I’m supposed to do every morning in the first hour I’m awake on days I don’t have to be at the coffeeshop at 6 am. Here’s that list.
- Drink water before coffee.
- Write one journal page.
- Make a big list for the day on an index card.
- Read 20-30 minutes of something I like.
- Check social media / email and then put it away.
- Move body somehow (yoga, improvised dance, stretching / sitting).
I taped the list to the corner of my fridge with green striped tape. My little goal for the next month or so is to try really hard to stick to this little list. I really hope it works. It really, truly, honestly may not. Then I’ll regroup.
Here are other things that I’m thinking about, the things shouting in my head that are really cool but are distracting me from doing one thing at a time because I want to do all of it all at once all the time:
- Americanah by Chimamanada Ngozi Adichie
- Imogen from Cymbeline
- The Have Company Podcast
- Applying for a million jobs because I’m never, never satisfied
- Researching grad school
- Writing essays
- Learning how to cook
- Planning what to cook
- Drinking water
- Cleaning my body
- Moving my body
- Exercising my body
- Kerry James Marshall at the MCA
- Reading the Chicago Reader
- Finding a suitable dance class
- Having an awesome blog
- Reading other blogs
- Talking to my family
- Talking to my friends
- Cleaning my home
Post-grad young adult hood just has really a pretty steep learning curve that I’m sort of trudging my way through and getting really sweaty in. So much is possible, so much that I’m overwhelmed by my own dreams, by my own projects, my own ideas, my own things I could be writing about. It’s too much all at once, choices clamoring to be picked and paid attention too. I just need a slow refrain of one-thing-at-a-time, one-thing-at-a-time, one-thing-at-a-time. Whatever the one thing is, just that. Just a thing. It doesn’t have to be polished, it doesn’t have to be clever, just one dang thing.
Now for the special, fulfilling gratification of publishing a blog post. One thing. Done.