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Holding Back

January 17, 2013

After the decision to leave graduate school, I was faced with the reality of figuring out my next step. . The past 8 months have been some of the most difficult for me emotionally. I have struggled to figure out, not only what I want to do with my life, but also who I am. There have been days where the thought of not being in school has left me so dejected that it takes all I have not to break down into a blubbering mess. There have been days where things seemed to be okay, where reading the status of a former classmate doesn’t make me feel as though my heart is breaking. I have pretty low self-esteem, and it has been taking a beating since leaving grad school. I am constantly dealing with guilt over quitting, fear of never finding my place again. I suffer because my identity was so thoroughly wrapped up in being a student that I am at a loss as I consider anything else.

I have had two dream jobs through out my life (in no particular order), the first was to be a college professor, the second a writer. The first turned out to be a bust in a very big way, and despite having the chance to pursue my second dream I have found myself holding back. I am not what many people would call brave, given the choice nine times out of ten I will opt for the safe alternative. Fear is a big motivator and also a big detractor from chasing this dream. I can’t help but allow the little inner critic free rein when it comes to my writing, and it knows just what buttons to push. Despite this I have taken steps towards becoming a better writer, this blog for example. I have participated in two different Nanowrimo challenges (and won), read countless books about writing and publishing and subscribed to countless blogs from other writers. I have notes for a story in my head and on paper. I have partial first drafts written, and have been told by my husband and my friend that I am a good writer. Yet, there is still this holding back. I find myself fearful. I am afraid that my writing sucks, and that my friends are being kind to spare my fragile ego. I am afraid that I won’t make it as a writer, and my second dream job will be a bust just like the first. I am afraid of what that would mean. Realizing how devastated the loss of the first dream job, the possibility of losing the second one seems almost too much to handle.

So, to placate the fear, I have avoided writing in quiet a few ways. I have taken notes about writing, notes on taking notes about writing and even a few on what it means to write. I have planned out plots, written a few halves of first drafts, made notes on the first twenty pages, rewrote those same twenty pages over and over. I have applied to more jobs than I care to count(out loud at least, and haven’t had a single job interview. (Score one for the inner critic and one against the damaged ego)  I have attempted to tackle new projects. I have taken up new hobbies (weaving anyone?) Let my life be taken up by a million little things, but at the end of the day I still know I am holding back, because of the fear.

I wish there was a way to magically  make it disappear. I wish I knew that this dream isn’t a silly waste of time, that I do have what it takes and that at the end of the day it will work out. The truth is, that it isn’t possible to know.


I can’t say that I even know why I am writing this, other than it’s late and I am weary from holding back. I am tired of the fear getting the best of me.

From → Musings, Writing

  1. I’m with knittingrevolution. Write and write and write, freely and without editing sometimes just to get stuff out. I know it is hard not to be depressed sometimes when your life does not seem to be heading where you imagined, but keep trying. Remember the things you are grateful for, and above all, treat yourself well.

  2. I know what it’s like to be depressed & sabotaging your life because you’re depressed, which only makes you more depressed. All I can say is that I eventually got so sick with myself I had to change things & just START. I’m much happier now I have a path plotted out & am working towards my goals, which included giving up work on a second degree. I felt embarrassed, stupid & like a loser for quitting school, but it has made me incredibly happier in the long run. It sucks now, but you’ll get your head above water & really start to work again. Now I’m out of school & working on my own thing it feels like my life has finally started. Best of luck with this difficult time.

  3. If you want to be a serious writer, then do lots and lots and lots of writing. You are already doing it by writing your excellent blog. Be brave, do it more, and go knocking on some doors. You never know where it might lead. Of course there is the fear of rejection and criticism, but you just learn from it. Good luck! x

  4. Well – in not writing you are certain to fail your dream, So in a way you are already at the worst place you can imagine, it can only get better! That inner critic wants us to believe that every dot we make on a piece of paper has to be perfect, but that’s not how it works. The best photographers only use 10% of their shots. On a good day. “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough”. Keep taking small steps. Even if you can’t see where they lead. Fear is just weather. It won’t kill you.

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