The Big Grey Whale of 2020

Lately, this one question keeps scampering through my thoughts: “What am I doing?”. It’s not an unreasonable question. In fact, we ask ourselves this question constantly – while we’re cooking, talking, moping, doing something exhilarating, forgetting why we walked into the guest bedroom. But recently, this question feels monumental. Like if there was an elephant in the room, this question is a grey whale. When I’m sad or happy or watching New Girl or sleeping or reading or cooking, echoes of “What am I doing” bounce around in my head, repeatedly unanswered.

When I was in college, I didn’t really expect to have it all figured out by 23 – that definitely seemed like a reach. But I at least thought I would have some semblance of a clue of what to do. That I would have something to be passionate about, or a steady routine, or at least a job I didn’t really enjoy. But 2020 had some different plans.

I’m living in a small town in Alabama that doesn’t recycle glass, there is a pandemic killing thousands of people, and I am unemployed. Yep, 2020 definitely didn’t consult with me on those plans.

Everyone around me keeps telling me to write. To put all my questions and anxieties and feelings into words, maybe in an attempt to synthesize them. But every time I go to do that, I can’t help but acknowledge the grey whale in the room.

What does writing do? Will it really help me understand my life right now? Will it help me get a job? Will it make sense out of the world and all that has happened this year? What am I doing?

It’s like writer’s block, but if writer’s block was suspended in a sea of endless and sometimes pointless questions, unable to even be acknowledged as writer’s block because it is so obscured by anxiety and an overwhelming feeling of stagnancy.

Whatta sentence.

I had a professor in college, in one of my few downtown classes, that said the exact same thing every single class: “Write everyday.” I’ve always struggled with consistency – my journals jump months if not years between entries, and I jump between journals sometimes too (you’d think the history-lover in me would have more respect for documentation, but alas). And what’s the point of writing everyday if some days what you write is shit? All of my beloved English professors would be upset with me now.

My loved ones are trying to help me figure all this out by asking me what I want. Do you want to go to grad school? Do you want to teach? What would you teach? Do you want to freelance? Do you want to get back into social media? Should you look into the local paper? Do you want to start the blog back up? What matters most to you? What makes you happy? What inspires you?

Sometimes I feel like I have answers, but mostly I feel like I don’t.

I read an article today by a freelancer I found on Instagram yesterday. It was about losing your best friend suddenly, and how to get through that grief. It was a personal article, one I couldn’t relate to because none of my friends have ever died, yet I read the whole thing. And when I finished, I realized that I kept reading because she wrote part of her story down, and I like to read stories.

When did the question turn from “what’s the point of writing everyday if some days what you write is shit?” to “what’s the point of writing?”? I have stories to share, even if they seem meaningless and depressing, like this one. Even if someone stumbled upon this blog post and cannot relate to any of my feelings, they may still read it. Because it’s a story. It’s my story. And I think I want to share it.

So here’s to writing everyday. Even if some days, it’s shit.

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