It’s not even metaphorical, sometimes my internal monologue really is screaming at me.
“Another day gone, another day you didn’t do any writing. Clearly you’re not serious about being an author.”
“If you were truly passionate, it wouldn’t be so hard.”
“Self-care? I’ve heard that one before. The real self-care would be getting some self-discipline and motivating your damn self to do some work.”
“You’re fucking shit. You’re fucking shit. You’re fucking shit. You’re fucking shit. You’re fucking shit. You’re fucking SHIT. You’re fucking SHIT. You’re fucking SHIT. You’re FUCKING SHIT. You’re FUCKING SHIT. You’re FUCKING SHIT. YOU’RE FUCKING SHIT. YOU. ARE. SO. FUCKING. SHIT.”
Sometimes it’s hard to realise when that voice in my head is being irrational. He sounds so much like the rational guy. They both make good arguments; they’re both very convincing. I wish they’d interrupt each other.
“Okay, sure, you WANT to write this. But have you considered whether you really NEED to? Maybe it only sounds good in your head. Maybe you should keep it in your head. Maybe you should keep them all in your head.”
“Consider this: YOU want to write this, but NOBODY ELSE WANTS TO READ IT.”
“Does anyone really need this? Do you have the right to take up someone’s time with this?”
“Well this blog post should be a poem, and this poem should be a blog post, this other poem would’ve made a good short story, whilst this short story would have made a better poem, and this short story is growing into a novel, and whatever this thing is should be damn well kept to yourself.”
“DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES POST THIS!”
Some people see me as a very negative person who doesn’t have much hope for myself or my future. It’s a reputation I’m working on changing. Not just because it’s an unhealthy reputation to have, I also don’t think it’s true of who I am anymore.
It’s true that I’m prone to bouts of despair and can spiral in some very dark directions. Some days I lose the argument with the voice in my head. But I always find myself on the right path forwards again.
I’ve often tried to find a paradoxical label to apply to myself. Terms like “bleak optimist” or “pragmatic pessimist” or “cynical idealist.” Maybe that’s pretentious, I don’t know.
What I really feel, though, is what I’m going to call hopelessly hopeful. Despite all my failed plans, missteps, ill-thought gestures, self-sabotage, relapses into self-critical thinking, etc. I always carry on. Whether it’s work, relationships or politics, I push on through the desperate times and find myself back in hopeful times.
Getting out of bed in the morning is a challenge every single day. Some days it takes minutes, and other days it will take hours. But I know I’ll always pull myself out of bed eventually.
“Better things are possible,” I remind myself.
Even if today is not one of the days I can fully believe in it.
“How many people are you letting down right now? How many chances do you think you’re going to get? Who do you think makes fun of you behind your back for all the projects you abandon? How long until they start placing bets without your knowledge?”
“All this time playing video games could be spent writing. All this time doomscrolling could be spent swiping on dating apps. All this time gossiping could be spent on activism.”
“Sleeping is important and feels nice, sure. But have you considered how much you could get done now if you stayed up instead?”
“Knowing you’re to blame for at least 90% of your problems really sucks, huh?”
I’ve tried to track my moods this year. The issue is overthinking whether any of the metrics are useful. Assigning any kind of numerical value to feelings seems entirely arbitrary and inconsistent with hindsight. One day’s 7/10 doesn’t really feel like another day’s 7/10. It’s all so relative. Plus, how do I decide what days are worthy of a 10/10 rating? What if I’m not yet aware of how joyous I can feel and all my best days this year will feel middling when I discover a higher happiness?
None of it really matters that much, of course. However, it does make me wonder whether I’d be better off measuring the volume of my brain in relation to what it stops me from doing.
Was my brain so loud I stared at a wall for hours? Bad day.
Was my brain quiet enough to let me enjoy the little things without a modicum of guilt? Good day.
Was my brain loud but work still got done? Still a good day.
“Stop blaming me! I’m just a voice in your head.”
Apologies for my rambling. I’m just writing through the noise. Sometimes that’s all we can do.
Too often I’ve found myself wishing for quieter days. However, in the interests of hopeless hopefulness, I’m going to try wishing for more days when I can be louder than my brain.