This new blog of mine was always meant to be a space for me to try. Try to put my voice out there, no matter how vulnerable it might feel. Try to make my words matter, whether people out there were reading or not. Try to write daily, weekly. Try to cultivate a closely held, cherished seed of a dream being a writer into a real career.
The problem with try is this: it’s easy to try. When you’re just there to ‘give it a try’, it’s easy to be distracted, to be discouraged, and to make excuses. I could start writing something only to abandon it, and label that as a good try. I could make a resolution on Sunday to write 30 minutes every day, and by Monday, that desire would have faded away. But I tried, right?
It’s been something I’ve struggled with my whole life. Certain things came to me easily–school, ballet, music–and I would do well enough to earn some pretty compliments and win a few motley awards. But I was too scared of imperfection, failure, and comparison that I never fully tried to push myself past the point of ease to excellence. (Aptly as metaphor, I never did achieve an arabesque higher than my shoulder, nor full splits.) Certain things were hard–auditioning for the Wiz, making new friends at a new school during junior year–and when I never got a callback or felt intimidated by the confidence, coolness, and lifelong, hometown camaraderie of my classmates around me, I folded myself away in the comforting fold of things I did well. I was too busy to try again. I made myself too busy.
Somewhere along the line, after starting this blog, I became overburdened with the need to define myself to others. On recommendation, I tried to narrow down my blog on one thing I knew well – medicine – and to chip out a little corner of the vast and noisy internet for my own. As a result, I was discouraged by the fine focus of the subject matter, which disconnected my writing from the rest of my life, of which medicine is only a fraction. I got caught up in comparison with others. I halfheartedly tried to make an impact and grow in prominence. I retreated when my first efforts brought no immediate success. I was too busy.
It recently occurred to me that even as things decay over time, the years mold them and harden them. Collagen contracts and muscles loosen, but the skin hardens and the grooves grow deep. Bodies decay into dust, but that becomes impacted into the foundations of the earth. And less romantically, those habits and tics that start so innocuously in our youths become ingrained with age. Being risk-averse has worked well for me in casinos (free drinks, watch others lose money), but not so well in the rest of life. To start, but to never finish, is not an admirable quality.
Before writing was my ambition, it was my way of processing the world and my place in it. It was my way to express the things that didn’t come readily to my lips. It was my way of liberating my true self from behind my shyness. It was part of me. It’s the same with music, with the songs that I remake into chords at my piano, and with less certainty at my guitar, while the words of others are filtered through my tone and tenor through my throat onto my tongue.
So this is the year where I don’t try any more. I will be.
I am a writer. I am – and will be – an active participant in my own life.
In light of this change, the blog will be changing a little bit. The subjects will be both more far-reaching and more personal. The styles may shift here and there. It will be more frequent, even as it may get a little shorter. I’ll still write about medicine, because it is interwoven into my life. But medicine doesn’t make up all of it. I’ll write because I want to write, because I want to parse out the way the world appears to me and flows around me. And I hope you’ll be there too, to keep me accountable, be part of the conversation, and see what this blog can be.