When you sit in a room with a group of people who are a) very talented writers, and b) extremely creative and your imagination has decided to take a walk, it can be difficult. Especially if your ideas take a while to brew on a good day, like mine do.
Just last week we were given a choice from two opening lines (both from short stories by Angela Carter) and instructed to carry on, and I sat there staring at the page for twenty minutes, unable to think of anything, while everyone around me sat scribbling away. I was lost.
I shouldn’t complain, really; I’m lucky to be part of such a good group. But for as long as I can remember I’ve had this ever-present, underlying feeling that I’m Just. Not. Good. Enough.
I know it’s not rational — I can stay organised and motivated, I can write, I’m developing my editing skills all the time. I’m doing just fine, but I still feel paralysed.
I want to look for some kind of work experience or even an internship I can take on once I’ve finished my second year (I finish in April. April) but I’m so nervous about the whole thing I don’t know where to start.
When I was looking for work experience last year it took me weeks after my self-set deadline before I plucked up the courage to send off all the emails I’d written. And guess what? It turned out fine. I had a product summer, learned a tonne, and got a killer reference for my CV to boot. So why am I digging my heels in again this year? What is it that stops me?
I suppose it’s one thing to hide behind a blog, but quite another to meet people face to face. I love to write because I feel like I can express myself more clearly and eloquently than I can in person. And I think when you’re able to express yourself clearly, you feel more in control.
Dealing with people does not come naturally to me, to the point where I had Selective Mutism as child. (This article goes into it in detail — it’s an anxiety disorder which renders children speechless in some (not all) situations.) I never spoke to any of the teachers at pre-school until the last day, when I’m told I said, ‘Thank you, goodbye’ and they nearly fainted in shock. So there’s the whole people have always made me uncomfortable issue to deal with.
And then there’s this: I know I want to have a career that involves writing in some way, but I don’t have a specific job title in mind, and I think it’s the feeling of not knowing exactly what I’m doing that I dislike the most. (I like to plan everything.)
But does anyone really have an idea of what they’re doing? The people in my classes produce interesting, well-written work, but speak to them there’s a high chance they were stressing about something, be it the plot, the dialogue, or just getting it finished by the deadline. And all of us are worried we’ll get our degrees and end up working in jobs we could have got without them for the rest of our lives.
This week is my reading week. I’ve got eleven days where my time is all my own and I’m going to use one of them to sit down and start sorting something out for the summer, no matter how scary it might be. Because deep down, my biggest fear is that I’ll end up not doing anything at all, both this year and once I leave university. I want to write and I want to do something worthwhile, and neither of those things will happen if I keep shrinking away. I’ve got to push myself.
Have you ever felt like you’re not good enough? How did you handle life after graduation? And if you’re in the same situation as me, how are you feeling about life after university? Let me know in the comments.
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Beth, 26, South East England.
Lover of books, dogs, yoga, travelling, and gin. Always thinking about my next meal.
I write about ethical & eco-friendly living, minimalism, and mental health, as I muddle through one step at a time. Enjoy!