A few months ago, I said goodbye to a project that was very close to my heart. Letting go was a huge deal to me. It was very much like saying goodbye to a childhood friend, the ghost of a bond that existed only in years past. The project was no longer serving me and difficult as it was, I let it go and made up my mind to do things differently moving forward. When I finally pulled the plug, I began writing a list of what would be far more fulfilling for me in terms of my writing and in my life in general and these realizations flowed effortlessly onto the paper.
This year, instead of resolving to create change in my life, I’m just doing to do it. With these realizations to guide me.
Last year was an extremely volatile year. It was probably the first time I’d ever paid 100% attention to an entire election season and also the first time I felt worried about the future of the country. But let’s rewind a bit. Before I moved to the US, I was living in Canada (read into the irony of that, if you will) and paid little to no attention to the goings-on of the world at large. I had never voted in a single election and my political experience never escalated past rating local politicians based on how attractive they were (yes – I was that person). Obama was president and all was well up in Canada-land. I had heard Stephen Harper was an asshole so naturally, I ran with that anytime someone brought up the political climate. I was way too cool to have actual opinions about anything beyond where we were grabbing drinks on Wednesday after work (and what I would wear – obviously). Everything was far too complicated for me to choose a side and say what I thought because I literally didn’t care.
Fast forward to now and I’m quite a different person. Turns out the world is still just as (or even more) messed up than before but now I’m mad about it. I’m curious. I care. There are things going on in the world that seem new to me – shocking even – but they aren’t new at all. It’s just the same thing with new people in a different year. And even as I struggle to find my voice and shout loud enough, I will stand. For something.
Finding my voice has been difficult in the sense that I am constantly having this inward struggle between saying what I really want versus what will make other people happy. It’s also really annoying for other people to deal with. From simple stuff like where we want to go for dinner to which kind of cat food I should give my cat, I have a hard time making choices. It reminds me of that infamous scene from the movie The Notebook when a very frustrated Ryan Gosling is simply asking a fearfully indecisive Rachel McAdams what she wants. I’m Rachel McAdams in this scenario in case you were wondering. This fear of people not liking me or what I have to say has kept me from doing so much not only in the past year but for most of my life and while I don’t think I can define exactly what my voice is at the moment, I am on the way to figuring it out.
In the instant world we live in, choosing words carefully has become a rarity. It’s so easy to get caught up in what you should and shouldn’t say that you freeze up and say nothing at all. Which, ultimately, contributes more to the problems we are facing. That’s been my experience, anyway. In regards to my writing, I’m finding that it’s better to say what I mean and risk a few people not liking it than to hold myself back by not saying anything at all.
I have this friend who I met up with recently for lunch and as we talked about the election and the president-elect, there was something about the way she carried herself and the words she was saying – she was so certain, so confident. She was passionate and she believed in what she was saying. As we parted ways that day, I walked away thinking, how can I be like that? How did she become so confident, I wondered. I realized then that your beliefs don’t just fall into your lap in a perfectly wrapped package. You have to seek them out. You have to be curious and read and learn. You have to almost create your beliefs in a sense.
So it seems I have my work cut out for me. Let’s do this, 2017.