How Can I Be Vulnerable?

For some time now, I have been thinking of myself as a failure as a writer. It was unconscious at first. I would tell my family and friends about wanting to be a writer even as a thread of guilt wound itself around my neck, choking the words inside of me. But nowadays, I don’t talk to anyone about my dreams because I have all but given up on them. I try not to let it bother me, but deep inside, I know I am a failure.

There are days when I chalk this up to my inability, nay, unwillingness to expose myself to others. I am THE most closed off person I know in this world. Hell will freeze over before I let anyone into my heart. The sun will rise in the west before I start trusting someone enough to share my thoughts with them. My friend “Daenerys” (That is not her real name obviously, but that is the first ‘D’ name that came to my mind) is the exact opposite. She wears her heart on her sleeve. I have gotten so used to hiding my true emotions from others that it comes naturally to me. When people ask my opinion on something very close to my heart, my first instinct is to lie. It is a natural defense mechanism. If people don’t know the truth about me, their words and barbs won’t hurt me. The flipside is that the truth and lies have gotten so entangled I can hardly distinguish them anymore. My mind is a convoluted tangle of thoughts.

This character trait of mine, I believe, is not something an artist should have. For example, take Fiona Apple. I don’t know if you have heard of her, but she is one of my favorite singer-songwriters of all time. She is an amazing artist whose songs are raw and full of emotion and passion. She has been in the music industry since 1997 or 1998 and it is a testament to her astounding talent that every single record of hers has been critically lauded. When I listen to her songs, I feel like she has taken what is going through my mind and illustrated it in a way more beautiful than anything my mind could ever create. Take her song “Every Single Night” for instance where she sings of how her mind works ‘every single night’.

Every single night
I endure the flight
Of little wings of white-flamed
Butterflies in my brain
These ideas of mine
Percolate the mind
Trickle down the spine
Swarm the belly, swelling to a blaze
That’s when the pain comes in
Like a second skeleton
Trying to fit beneath the skin
I can’t fit the feelings in
Every single night’s alight with my brain

I am at my creative best only at night when the world is quiet and peaceful. And the above lines perfectly illustrate how I feel when I am creating something – whether it be a chapter in my never-to-be-published book or a pencil portrait of someone. The emotions which the art brings up inside me threatens to fill me and burst out of me in a wave and when I am done creating, I feel spent as if I physically exerted myself.

I hope one day I will allow myself to feel things like Fiona Apple does. But this begs the question – are those who have suffered deeply the only ones capable of feeling so deeply? Fiona Apple was raped when she was a teenager and she also suffered from anorexia. Having been brought up in an upper middle class family with overprotective parents, I can’t say I have ever suffered deeply. Does this mean it’s simply impossible for me to feel things so acutely?

Passion

I have known passion. Passion that claws you from the inside, dragging its sharp nails through your innards, shredding your soul into bits and pieces; passion that makes your blood boil and makes you feel giddy with excitement all at the same time; passion which seeps through every living cell in your body, the only thing driving you forward in life.

I knew this kind of passion when I was fifteen, sixteen years old. I would long to come home form school just so I could read more books. I felt most alive when I was writing, building characters and stories in my head.

Now… Well, now, my passion has mellowed out. My life is no longer a simple equation like “dreams + free time = realization of dreams”. The variables have increased. My life equation now is more like “dreams + unavailable free time + working my ass off at the office + exhaustion + washing + cleaning + cooking + worrying about my future + listening to my parents worry about my future + maintaining good relationships with my school, college and work friends = realization of my dreams after a decade (maybe)”.

The sad truth is that even though I’m not chasing my dream (of becoming a writer) right now, even though I’m, as I mentioned before, working my ass off at the office, I don’t hate working in an IT company. It’s really not so bad. The people I work with are amazing and I actually have fun at work. Which scares me. I am afraid that I would soon become too complacent about my lot in life and not even attempt to attain something more. I have been feeling more and more guilty about this for the past few days.

And guilt, my friend, can be a powerful motivator. Guilt made me boot up my laptop and start a fresh draft of a story that has been building in my mind for some time. Guilt made me pick up my pencils and start sketching again. I wouldn’t say my creative juices are a-flowing like the River Nile, but they are definitely starting to trickle.

After the one hour writing sesh and another one hour of sketching, I felt spent like I had just had the most amazing sex of my life (I’m only guessing that’s what the most amazing sex of my life would feel like because, psst, I’m a v-v-virgin). I feel good. I feel light and happy.

P.S.: When I was writing this post, “Adam’s Song” by Blink-182 started playing in my head. Especially the following verses:

I never conquered, rarely came
16 just held such better days
Days when I still felt alive
We couldn’t wait to get outside
The world was wide, too late to try
The tour was over we’d survived
I couldn’t wait till I got home
To pass the time in my room alone