Monday, June 19, 2017

Atelophobia


Hello there, again.


It seems I have a habit of disappearing.

It has been weeks since I last wrote a blog post. Almost three months, if you want to get specific.

Not for lack of ideas. I have an entire notebook filled with them in a drawer in my desk.

Not entirely for lack of time, although that has played a role in my lack of bloggable words (yay exams…totally yay. They haven’t been soul-crushing at all.)

Not because of computer failures or fun life events or even particularly sad life events.

No. My absence has been due to one thing, and really, one thing alone.

Fear.

I have been afraid to write.



This happens to me, sometimes. Often. It is always there, really, but sometimes I can ignore it. Cast it aside. Push through it.

But sometimes

I can’t.

It manifests in different ways, this fear, but the root cause is always the same.

I am afraid of not being good enough.

There is a term for this, you know. Atelophobia. The fear of imperfection. It’s a form of anxiety, Dr Google tells me. Which makes sense, really, given that I am an anxious ball of panic basically all day every day, and anxiety does exist in my alphabet soup of Ways My Brains Fails To Brain Like It Should. It also makes sense if you know me and my utter insanity when it comes to the grades I expect of myself at university. Oh boy, atelophobia is a barrel of fun at uni, let me tell you.




Although my fear of writing – or rather, publishing my words in such a manner that people may, you know, actually read them – is not new, it takes a slightly different form each time. Anxiety has to keep you guessing, right. There is little anxiety in predictability. There is little room for your brain to spin worst case scenarios if you know exactly what to expect. No, anxiety lies in the unknowns. The what ifs. The maybes. The what thens. Today’s atelophobia is brought to you by the letter H, and H stands for HARM, and so, dear children, today’s atelophobia is brought to you by my fear of causing Harm.

This may seem odd. After all, everyone knows, everyone knows, that sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. That is basic kindergarten logic along with whoever smelt it dealt it and whoever denied it supplied it [I grew up with 4 brothers and no sisters, okay. Fart logic reigns supreme]. We tell our children that words can’t hurt, but unfortunately, as I’m sure most -- if not all -- of you know, words can, and do, hurt. Sometimes more so than sticks and stones. Sometimes a sucker punch with a stick or a stone would be a welcome alternative to the kind of poison that words can implant in our minds by a careless phrase or venomous insult. The saying should really go, sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can hurt forever.

Which brings me back to my fear.

My other blog was mostly me playing pretend author. I’d write stories and post random observations about life and swoon so hard about a certain member of a certain band that I’d need to take a moment or two to breathe into a brown paper bag…But they were just words. To entertain. To vent. To think out loud. They weren’t for anything. They didn’t have a purpose other than free therapy for me and free entertainment for you, if you liked it. That blog was my very public diary and you read it if you wanted to and then forgot the content faster than I forgot the content of my statistics textbook the second my exam was over. [Which poses a very real problem as I embark on advanced statistics this trimester. Send help. And also Pepsi Max. Because caffeine.] That blog was harmless. It didn’t have a purpose. This one does. And that makes it potentially dangerous. Because yes, while it is still basically my very public diary about how much I love certain bands [nope, never gonna get sick of reminding you all that MY LOVE FOR THEM BURNS LIKE THE FIRE OF A THOUSAND SUNS], it now also has a purpose. That list along the right-hand side? That’s the purpose. To share information about those topics. Stories. Insights. Signs. Symptoms. Advice.

The word alone fills me with fear.

Atelophobia.

The fear that my advice is going to suck.

Who am I to give advice, anyway? I am not the President of People With Crappy Lives. I have no training or experience other than what I’ve lived or seen in other people or read about or heard about or watched unfold in Meredith’s life on Grey’s Anatomy.

Meredith IS the President of People With Crappy Lives, just FYI.

What if I say the wrong thing? Or give incorrect information? What if I suggest something that helped me that ends up hurting someone else? What if? Maybe? What then?

The what ifs and maybes and what thens can be, and often are, crippling. They’ve kept me from this blog for three months, after all, despite thinking about writing almost every day because I actually love words almost as much as I love…Yeah okay, I’ll try harder to stop swooning over certain bands and people. Maybe. Probably not.

But. Someone once said, feel the fear and do it anyway. My therapist says that the only way to overcome anxiety is to do the anxiety-provoking thing over and over again until your brain recognises that this thing is not a threat. Of course this only works if you’re anxious about something innocuous, like wearing pants that actually fit you and aren’t 12 sizes too big [guilty]. It doesn’t work so well if, say, you’re anxious that you’ll die if you skydive with no parachute. That’s something truly worthy of your anxiety so don’t go challenging that, okay? Ah see now this is why I shouldn’t be allowed to make words. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will hurt forever. Unless you go skydiving with no parachute. Then you probably won’t feel anything at all, or at least not for very long.

Moving right along.

So that’s what I’m going to do. Try to do. I’m going to feel the fear and do it anyway. I am going to do the anxiety-provoking thing and make words and share those words on a public forum and hope, just hope that the balance between what I say that is harmful and what I say that is helpful is tipped so that I help more people than I harm. Or, in an ideal world, I harm no one at all.

Wouldn’t that be a marvellous thing.

If I happen to say something that you think sucks or is wrong or is harmful, tell me. I don’t bite. My jaw muscles have actually atrophied so I can barely even chew anything substantial for very long without it starting to hurt, so I probably couldn't bite you even if I wanted to [true story, lol]. I’ve said before that there are a thousand and one ways to contact me. The comments here, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, askFM, smoke signals, a carrier pigeon. Let me know what you think about what I write, both good and bad, because if I’m sending out harmful messages, I want to know about it. I need to know about it. Okay? Okay. By reading that second okay you agreed and that is legally binding. Just so you know.

So let’s try this again. Hi, I’m The Girl With Words and I’m going to try really hard to make meaningful and helpful words happen. Now with 73% More Dark and 89% More Twisty.

Nice to meet you.

Oh, and seriously guys, don’t go skydiving without a parachute. That is a Very Bad Idea.