When I first started writing, I had this overwhelming fear I would never be able to come up with ideas. How did people write a piece a week?! Let along a day? So after sending in my first college newspaper article, I sat down at my scrawny Ikea desk and wracked my brain for inspiration. I came up with a list of four things. And the week after I came up with five, and every week after, I learned to open my eyes a little wider and see what could be a story and what would best be a call home to my grandma.
From where I sit now, perched among the chaos of my post it lists and emails to myself, college Carly’s problems seems crazy comical. Run out of ideas? HA! How about run out of paper is more likely.
I have an almost compulsive urge to write everything down – a habit fueled by my fear of forgetting something. In reality, some ideas are worthwhile, some are fleeting, but without any reflection, in the moment, all seem like THE IDEA. The reality is, I probably won’t ever be able to write all the articles that float through my head, and yet, I have a hard time letting them go. I find myself packing my mental subway car with every opportunity or idea because if I pass them by, what if I’ll never find anything like them again? What if they were my soulmate opportunity?
I was talking with a friend over tea last month about this behavior and she shared she’s started waiting three days before making any big life decisions. “Three whole days!” she yelled in exasperation, making it clear her habit of hoarding opportunities was as cemented as mine.
I thought of her a lot today on my walk. How great it is to be passionate about many things, but how important it is to be okay not doing everything right this minute. Some things will work better, write better, be better in one/five/twenty years and when that happens, I’ll be grateful I didn’t rush them to the finish line prematurely.
In the future, I want to write about the FDNY and survivors of violence and comedic dating stories and feature profiles. I want to dance and take pottery classes and go sketch in the park. I want to learn to rock climb and backpack and become a yoga teacher and finish the 50 unread books on my bookshelf. I want to be a friend who shows up and a friend who can cook and bake and has her own line of sex positive greeting cards. I want to travel the world and be published in the New Yorker and maybe someday, even write a book.
Sometimes, I just need a remember to let that overflowing subway car pass by and take the next one. For any other advice, well dear reader, that I would love to hear from you.