Writing Is Hard And Some Other Observations

Natalie Allen

1.

I used to be able to write when I was angry. That was when everything just came spewing and flowing and rioting out of me. When I was angry, the words came naturally. They weren’t always rational and they weren’t always correct and they weren’t always a clear indication of what I actually think or thought, but they were there.

Now when I’m angry, the last thing I want to do is see that anger splayed out to revisit. I don’t like seeing it at all. It reminds me of a me who was completely out of control. Who did things like drive to her boyfriend’s house at 2 in the morning just to get into a fight outside even though it was 20 below. Who ended up with stitches in her hand from slamming a door. Who threw drinks and hit below the belt and reacted in whatever way she wanted because of anger. And I don’t like her anymore. I don’t want to be her anymore.

In this never-ending journey of “trying to be a better person” I’ve really made a conscious effort to harness my anger. To not be this person who is a walking time bomb. So when things come at me and I get angry and it’s right there in front of me and I can’t walk away…I don’t know. It’s what I imagine it would feel like to come face to face with someone who completely backstabbed you. That version of me is someone I want to ignore but sort of can’t. Someone I don’t want to have anything to do with but also can’t avoid.

What I’m saying in the most roundabout way possible is, I’ve spent a lot of time and devoted a lot of energy towards being less angry, having less of a temper. So when I’m confronted with situations that make me feel that bubbling up inside of me, it throws me. I don’t like it. I want to pretend it didn’t happen and cross to the other side of the metaphorical street to avoid it. But sometimes…you just can’t. And I really, strongly dislike those times.

2.

Something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is how quick we seem to jump to paint other people as villains or fuckboys or bitches or whatever, just because that person chose to leave. Like, we preach this big game about being allowed to move on, being allowed to heal, being allowed to leave…but then we villainize other people for doing the same thing? Sure, you’re allowed to be hurt when someone goes. But how can we empower ourselves and say “I don’t have to want you” but then demand the exact opposite from everyone else?

It’s taken me a long time to realize some things about a Specific Situation that dealt with this, and even though I still very much hold some people accountable for how they did the leaving, and what they did before, I know now that they weren’t actually wrong to want to leave. That it was completely and totally within their right to choose to go. That I am not deserving in any way shape or form of their love. They aren’t required to love me, they aren’t required to stay with me, and so when they stopped, they left. And they’re allowed to do so.

That doesn’t make them the villain.

It sucks, sure, but that suckery doesn’t make them a monster. As difficult as that is to accept. It doesn’t.

It’s one of the hardest lessons I’ve probably had to learn in my 20s, but it’s also one of the most valuable. People are allowed to leave. People are allowed to do things that will end up hurting you. People are allowed to break your heart. And it sucks, but it doesn’t make them bad people. 

And when you accept that? It makes it easier to breathe when they go.

3.

I am not a particularly affectionate person.

Maybe it’s my Midwest upbringing or maybe it’s a result of a lot of back and forth during my formative “romantic” years, but being affectionate or lovey-dovey or what-have-you isn’t exactly in my nature. I’m not a soft person. I’m the antithesis of a poem. I’m not the person who melts or goes weak in the knees or feels anything relatively, metaphorically, or figuratively, soft.

But there’s this side of me that lies figuratively dormant and whenever this specific person is around, it spikes back up. This side of me that wants to sit up in bed and talk until the sun comes up and wrap them in blankets and be gentle. This side of me that wants to tell them everything’s going to be okay. This side of me that thinks it can be soft.

And I know there’s something seeded in my own inability to process this, but I just don’t want to do with it. So instead of leaning into it, I’m actively pulling away. Instead of exploring it, I’m repeating to myself over and over and over again, “This is nothing.”

Because I don’t know how to be an affectionate person. And I don’t think I’m ready to figure it out.

4.

There’s this strange thing that happens when you have any sort of visibility and accessibility to people where they gain a level of familiarity with you and start to think they know you. I am in no way shape or form famous. I am the living embodiment of that tweet/meme of “me and my 3 followers who like everything I do.” That’s me. C’est moi.

Even though it’s absolutely not like I have anything close to notoriety, I’m still like, lowkey visible online. And am “known” in certain circles or in specific spaces. A barista at a place I regularly go to once asked if I’m the ‘Date Someone Who Treats You Like Shit’ girl. I was flattered. Still didn’t get a free latte, but was nonetheless flattered.

I’m getting off topic.

My point is that what’s weird to me that because I might be in the same circle as someone, they instantly think we’re on a “first name basis.” That it’s kosher to email me out of the blue going “Hey gurrllllll” or ask me for a favor when we don’t really know each other. Idk. Maybe I’m being overly sensitive and should be equally as flattered as when the barista recognized my last name. But it makes me uncomfortable. And makes me feel kind of off.

I think there’s this line we all have to be cognizant of. And that’s that even if we know the details about someone that they’ve chosen to put out there, that doesn’t mean that we know them. That doesn’t automatically make them our friends. It doesn’t put us on a “Hey gurrllllll” basis. I think we all need to check ourselves because due to things like social media and the internet in general, it becomes way too easy to think we just automatically know people. And we don’t.

5.

Here is a very revolutionary statement: writing is hard.

I used to think that things we are good at, the things we are passionate about, that they come easily. That they just spill out of us almost unintentionally. That we don’t necessarily have to try at them—we’re just talented and good at whatever.

But that’s so so so so so not the case.

I was a vocalist for years. I studied singing for years. And singing is very hard. I always felt okay at it even when people were telling me how amazing I was or how well I performed. No matter how hard I trained, what roles I booked, how many hours I sang, what notes I hit or runs I nailed, I always just felt okay at it.

And now, I feel just okay at writing.

And I think that’s because the things we’re good at, and the things we’re passionate about, are also the things that we constantly want to do better. If you really want to be good at something, maybe even excellent one day, it shouldn’t be easy. You SHOULD feel bad at it for a while. And maybe even BE bad at it for a while.

Because feeling bad at it means you’re pushing yourself. It means that you care enough that you want to improve. It means that you don’t think being good just happens, but that you want to make it happen.

So even though writing is hard, and I don’t really feel particularly good at it at the moment, I’m still going to do it.

For me, and my three fans. TC mark

Kendra Syrdal

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