A Dream Deferred
I haven’t been writing lately. I haven’t written for almost 4 months to be exact. Well actually, I started a post about why I went to therapy. I finished it but I never posted it. I didn’t think it was good enough to share. About a month prior I was proclaiming that I wanted to leave my profession to write full time. I was researching places where I can pitch my work or find a part-time writing gig to get my feet wet. I had just come off two successful posts that received collectively over 700 views. I was on a high and then it all stopped; I couldn’t write anymore.
My therapist and I have been talking about the concept of “safety.” I’ve had many people in my life who’ve disappointed me, so I keep people at a distance to protect myself. I’ve grown up in an unstable situation so the path I’ve chosen for myself has planted my feet on solid ground. I crave control in all things in life because control equates to safety. However, in the last couple of years or so, I’ve been testing the limits of my various safety nets; this includes writing and sharing my work with others. I was writing on my blog for about a year before I decided to actually share my posts. Seeing people’s reactions to my work motivated me to keep writing and sharing. At first the reaction was modest, but then people started sharing and reposting. People started to offer up topics that they wanted to hear my opinions on. All the attention was flattering and it planted a seed that the possibility of writing full time could actually be a reality.
When I stopped writing I made every excuse in the book for why I wasn’t writing. I was super busy at work, which isn’t far from the truth; one of my coworkers quit abruptly which resulted in a promotion for me (YAY) but meant double the work (BOO)! I was lacking in inspiration; life was somewhat quiet and pop culture topics that I usually cover didn’t feel worthy enough of a 1500 word post. I had finally felt like I had a solid group of friends in NYC and I was dating more; my social life was on the come up but that was no excuse for letting my passion slide.
As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a writer. My father, being the old school Caribbean father that he is, told me I had to go to school to be a nurse. In most Haitian families you have 3 options in terms of careers; you can either be a nurse, doctor, or lawyer (honorable mentions go to accountant and engineer). Being the only girl in my family, becoming a nurse was automatic but I was defiant and I told my father I wanted to write. I studied English and journalism during a time when print journalism was dying. In my first journalism class my professor looked across a lecture hall of over 100 impressionable young writers and told us we’d be lucky to get a job. The girl craving safety and security panicked and fell into a career that felt like a sure thing.
In adulthood, I was trying to give my dream a second try only to find myself being my own saboteur. Langston Hughes once said, “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?” The implication being that if you don’t go after your dream, you’d regret it and the regret will fester and poison all other aspects of your life. But what happens when you come so close to your dream that it scares you? Your standing face to face with you dream, but you can’t look it straight in the eye; your dream makes you feel small and insignificant.
Writing is not only my dream, it’s my liberation. I’ve never been the loudest and people have always commented on my confidence or lack thereof. Writing gave me my voice. It was my megaphone in a room when in reality I would muster for the right words to say. Writing helped me take up bigger space in the world; I wasn’t used to and that began to scare me. The fact that people were actually reading and essentially listening to what I had to say scared me. The fact that my audience had the potential to grow scared me. Making a public declaration of wanting to write full-time and potentially failing on that declaration scared the shit out of me. Looking at my bank account and wondering how the hell I could survive as a full-time writer literally kept me up at night.
If you’re reading this thinking that Eunice will provide some sage advice on how to face your fears; I ain’t got it. It took a couple of months of therapy to get me to write again. My advice to you is to find a good therapist. In all seriousness, a lot of changes have been happening in my life and they’ve been good changes, but changes shake up the status quo. Essentially my safety nets have been compromised and I’ve realized that that’s where most of my fear and self-sabotage come from. My writing block manifested from what I’ve been grappling with personally; the part of me that wanted to remain small, wanted to mute my voice, wanted to settle for the life I have because I thought that I was undeserving of the life I deserve. Fear can create victimization and keep you from being truly accountable for your life. Realizing this now, my desire to elevate is stronger than my desire to be complacent. That’s why I needed to write this. Even if only 5 people care to read it, even if I never write professionally, I needed to do this for me, so that at the end of the day fear won’t win.