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So Now What?

It does feel like a Science Fiction novel. Everyone stuck inside their homes except for the "necessary employees," which include hospital staff, grocery store workers, restaurant employees, and...liquor store associates???

I guess we all have our priorities.

Honestly, although I'm feeling nostalgic for the occasional run to the mall or sit-down dining experience at a restaurant, I've enjoyed this hiatus from society. I wish I could say I've gotten a lot more writing done, but nope. I could list a page of excuses here, all quite legitimate, but in the end they are what they are. Just as they seem. Excuses.

So, knowing my excuses are in place and feel comfy as a long nap, I throw a little introspection blanket over my body. Why am I not writing? What are my "personal" excuses? We all have them. Fears. Desires. Hopelessness. I could go on and on with my list, confident that every person on earth will find at least one of these reasons familiar.

Here are a few of mine. See if you can relate:

1) Limiting Belief: I'll never get where I want to be. People like me with no connections and no mentors can't become professional screenwriters and authors.

2) Defeatist Attitude: I don't write what people want to read. So, why even try? I'm just wasting my time when I could be making money at a paying job.

3) Self-Sabotage: My friends need me, my kids need me, I don't have time for myself. And if I ignore everyone, I'm being selfish and mean.

4) Low Self-Esteem: I'm not a good enough writer. I'm never going to get anywhere.

The problem with "excuses" such as these is that they are difficult to overcome. Somewhere along our path to adulthood, we've tried and failed, tried and failed, tried and horribly failed. Maybe we were told not to take a chance, to stay safe with a job we hated, but we could depend on. Or we were scoffed at. Some called us a failure, if not in that exact term, by the way they reacted when we spoke about our hopes and dreams. Parents are notorious for snapping their children's' dreams as if they were nothing more than twigs. My own mother talked me out of some amazing career choices. "Be safe, not sorry." When you grow up in a bubble, that bubble's exterior becomes too hard to penetrate. A teenager basking in idealism becomes weathered when told to "grow up and get your head out of the clouds."

But at the ripe young age of fifty, I've discovered something. Not everyone is meant to line up like good little girls and boys and be herded from school to the playground for a brief moment and then back to school again. Some people thrive in that playground. Grow. become stronger, more focused. And when you take those kids and force them to return to school, only visit the playground every once in a while, those children become miserable adults.

"Creative" does not equal "lazy," although society loves to feed on that concept. But I've worked my ass off, sometimes working 80 hour weeks on my feet, and in the end I have nothing to show for it. The money, spent on food and rent. My heels and soles forever ruined. My brain dulled. And yet, I did it because I didn't know what else to do.

Looking back, as we can all do now that we're older and much more aware, I see where I went wrong. I allowed my mom to dictate what I could and could not do. And after that, I relied on a husband who spoke that same language. I took tiny steps because I was afraid if I took big ones I would fail and no one would be around to catch me when I fell. They'd be behind masks that read, "I told you so." I didn't learn how to believe in myself, because the prominent people in my life considered me foolish and naive. When the people you love the most have no faith in you, how can you gain that faith in yourself? It's easy to tell someone, "Never mind how they feel, you need to do this for you." Most of the people handing over this advice never worried about disappointing others. They went after something, succeeded, and yanked those "I told you so" masks off their family members, their significant others, and then heartily laughed in their faces.

The rest of us took our baby steps and, chastised or emotionally scarred from the risk, decided to crawl back into bed for that nap. Squeezed back into that bubble. Stepped into the safe confines of the school and stared out at the playground wistfully.

The rest of us feel fine laying low at home during this Pandemic, knowing that we're safe because our circumstances support our excuses.

So, now what?

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