Friday, July 29, 2016

Confidence VS The Romance Of Self Loathing

Emma Sklar 7/29/2016

I write because I believe that I am articulate, but ordinary. My experience is mine alone but it is also universal, so because I can write, I do. I hope by offering an honest exploration of my inner world in which I seek to resolve some of my own anxieties and questions I might be helping someone else as well. Or sometimes I just want to be funny. Either way to even sit down to start writing I have to  believe that I’m not a useless turd who can’t do anything right. You have to believe that I feel that way sometimes, but that’s different than believing it to be true. What’s perplexing is that I feel bad about not believing myself to be a useless trash turd, because I guess it feels borderline narcissistic to feel good about myself, especially given that my writing is so personal. Many great writers style themselves as bewitching pools of self-loathing and chaos. Confidence is sexy, but sexier than darkness and despair? It’s the duality of the broken hearted poet and the Rockstar and as a writer who is trying to find a voice it does sometimes feel like one has to pick a side.
Writing is lonely fucking work to begin with. I imagine it is the same for painting and song writing or glassblowing or competitive hair braiding, although I have to say in what little song writing I have attempted the satisfaction is almost immediate- it isn’t until later that I decide that what I’ve come up with is garbage. I imagine that for anyone who knows what they’re doing and likes the sound of their own voice an evening of writing songs would actually make you feel extremely powerful and in control even when everything is falling apart. “Finishing” a piece of writing can have that effect, but nothing is ever finished because I feel that it is done. Things are finished when I can’t stand to look at them anymore- they might not be done but I am FUCKING DONE with them. But then I’m not a very good writer. Well, I might be a good writer- that’s pretty subjective-  but I’m certainly not a very successful one. I have yet to summon the drive or the patience to follow through and make things happen with my writing.  I don’t hate my work though. I sometimes worry that my content isn’t riveting or powerful, but that’s more of an anxiety about the content of my life more than anything else.

I am not an objective reporter inserting myself into the thick of interesting experiences for the benefit of the reader. I am just trying to lead my normal goddamn life and squeeze as much epiphanous nectar as I can from the feelings-cacti in the barren expanse of my emotional desert.  Sure, I could commit time in my life to doing things that I maybe wouldn’t do otherwise for the sake of a good hook, but the thing is that I am not at all cool and I will never be on the forefront of anything so I need other people to write their blogs about venues I’ve never heard of and donuts I probably won’t eat and where to get the best kimchi whatever even though I don’t like kimchi that much .And ya know what? I don’t think anyone really does. At least not enough to be putting it on EVERYTHING and acting like it’s unicorn poo or whatever stupid made up thing hipsters are currently “obsessed” with.

...Where was I? Oh right. I am not cool. I don’t know where the good shit is. I know where the shit I like is and I’m really not that concerned with being able to talk about having gone to a place that exists so people will go to it as if that is some kind of accomplishment. I am also a bit of a nay-sayer but only because I truly believe that people who are super gung-ho all the time, especially on social media, are actually usually the first people to exclude anyone who doesn’t fit in with their flashy, super outgoing idea of fun. I’m always very impressed by people who go out of their way to involve strangers in conversations, but logically one can only offer genuine friendship to so many people, and I personally just don’t see the point of filling your life with weak connections. Maybe this is why I am not particularly successful but I am consistently content. “Happiness” in another concept I believe to be dangerous and highly falsified so I try to avoid using it as a way to describe my mental state. To each his own.

ANYWAY I’m getting off track again but my point is that in order to write I have to believe in my perspective because I am never going to corner any hip or niche audience, and I think the reason I can do that is because on a basic level I like myself. I have some shit to work on but it doesn’t feel totally hopeless. Hopelessness is very romantic though, and I think a lot of artists, mostly men if I am being honest, cling to it as a safeguard against rejection. Oh you don’t like it? Well FUCK YOU, because I already didn’t like it even harder. I won’t lie, it is very sexy for some stupid reason when someone is creative but broken, but I think that’s because creative people who understand their worth are some of the most intimidating people on the planet so the alternative feels a little safer.  The confident ones not only have a unique ability, but they have a voice, and when wielded correctly it’s a very powerful thing.
             An artist of any kind can be legendary and still get sunk by their own self-loathing, and maybe the self-loathing was part of what made their work special, it’s hard to say, but a confident artist can take adversity and spin it around to make themselves stronger, so if I do have to pick a side, I pick confidence. This isn’t some morning affirmation self-help bullshit. This is just starting from a place of “it’s good that I’m me” and running with it. Some day I still hope to write a beautiful, tragic song that makes everyone want to cry until they throw up a little, because I think that must be a pretty amazing thing to achieve, but when it comes to writing I’ll leave the darkness and suffering to the cool kids who know how to do it in style.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Confessions of A Troglodyte*

Confessions of A Troglodyte*

*a person who lives in a cave

Growing up I didn’t have a lot of concerns about my body’s safety and spent most of my youth hurling it at or in the way of snow and ice and limbs (both human and tree) and pretty much anything that might cause lasting damage if encountered with too much force. As a result I was known for being tough, and I liked it. For whatever reason I wasn’t afraid of pain so it was easy for me, but no one needed to know that. As a result I never really had to face the things I was afraid of or averse to, like eating raw fish, making new friends or admitting when I had done something wrong. I could be a coward when it suited me and still maintain my reputation as a resilient scrapster.

Now I am 28 years old (as I write this in the year 2016) and I am afraid to try new things. I’m worried I might lose the friends I have because they’ll think I’ve changed or don’t need them anymore if I suddenly take on new interests. I’m worried that anyone I might meet in pursuit of new interests will denounce me as ignorant and ridiculous because I haven’t ALWAYS loved this thing or that. I’m afraid I won’t know what to say so I’ll resort to self-deprecation even though I know it’s weak and unattractive as a first impression. Or I will talk too much about how I don’t like baseball because I don’t believe highly paid athletes should ever be fat, which I don’t even really care about. Why do I that? I think I’m funny but I don’t always have great timing. I still play soccer, but because I am aging and have to wake up and do life even when my ribs are sore I actually have quite a BIT of concern for my physical health, and even I didn’t there really isn’t anyone around to shower me with praise for it. The NYC rec leagues aren’t much of a spectator event.

Occasionally the fear subsides and I do something I convince myself is bold and daring and just the thing to start my new exciting lifestyle like invite someone I’ve only met once to my apartment and fail to realize that their interest was politely feigned until I’ve already run with the idea that we might be friends or...whatever. So it’s a pretty consistent cycle of fear and embarrassment and I really wish I were immune to both of these things. I think I assumed that when I grew up I wouldn’t be afraid of people any more. I’m fine with being afraid of jumping into deep water and riding a bike downhill and ingesting hallucinogens of suspicious origins mostly because it turns out no one ever expects me to do these things anyway. Those things used to cause me a lot of stress and now they don’t. I assumed my other fears would take the same route. I saw myself striding confidently into adulthood, flawed yes, but unflappable and daring and full of balls-to-the-wall, don’t-care-what-you-think-I’m-awesome charisma.

But Such is not the case, and  I often have to retreat into my comforts and lick my imaginary wounds, many of which are just the sore spots from knowing I’ve missed out on something I might have liked if I had tried. I’d really like to stop doing this. I’d really like to put myself in situations where I’m a little outclassed by excited, intelligent people and a little out of my element, and to trust myself that even if I don’t wow the crowd with my sparkling personality I probably won’t die. Probably. I suppose it’s time I let go of being tough and settle into being brave.