Reflections on an Upcoming Birthday

Birthdays aren’t always easy. I’m not afraid of growing older. But, I do worry about not being where I want to be in life.

Hey there!

Today is going to be another personal one. You see, my birthday is coming up soon, and I’m feeling rather conflicted about it. 

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Photo by Lukas Rychvalsky from Pexels

No, I’m not worried about getting older, exactly. Age, up till reaching the challenges of extreme old age, has always seemed an enviable condition to me. Middle age, in fact, is something I look forward to. 

So, while the years themselves aren’t troubling, I’m still young and I know it, there are other challenges. This birthday marks a series of specific goals I have long held, goals I have not met, and am unlikely to meet in the 12 months following my birthday. 

Unfortunately, the internet being what it is, I have to be rather vague about both when my upcoming birthday will be, and how old I am. But, even without those details, I can discuss what this particular year was supposed to mean, the goals I had laid out, the things I thought my life would contain. 

It should be no surprise since I’m making this post, that many of the goals I am about to discuss have gone unmet. So, I’m also going to talk about how I’m attempting to deal with the differences between reality and plan a younger and more idealistic self first created. 

Let’s start with the big one. I will shortly be the age I wanted to start having kids. While I am still young, and in many ways still finding my way, I am older now than my parents were when they had me. I am older than at least one set of my grandparents were, having my mom and uncle. I have always known that my goal meant having children later than those members of my family.

But, I privately hoped it wouldn’t be much later. 

I saw first hand the benefits of having younger parents. While my friends almost uniformly had older parents than mine, I’ve never wanted that for myself. People talk about young adulthood as a time for partying, irresponsibility, and finding yourself. 

Well, I’m not much of a party-goer. I don’t drink much or often. I am much more comfortable behaving responsibly than irresponsibly. I did a lot of the work of finding myself as a teenager and in college.

I believe in life as a series of neverending becoming. I want to be myself. To allow myself to be a person in flux, always growing and changing. 

So, I’m uncomfortable, even ungrounded, in the descriptions of what this phase of my life should be. While I’m not comfortable with the idea of myself as a parent, because I know that becoming a parent will require growth and change into a person I have not yet become, it’s at least an idea of being I find familiar and desirable. 

It’s also out of reach. Neither my living situation nor my finances support making moves toward parenthood. I am not established in any career. My partner, while steadily employed with a good company, does not many enough to support us without help. We live with roommates, and they are not interested in children, so we need to move out before beginning a family. 

The steps it would take to make parenthood a reasonable goal are long-term plans. Things that will take time and energy to create, and which almost certainly won’t happen within a year.

So, this goal, my private marker of the age I should be when I become a parent, is going to go unmet. 

A secondary, but equally troubling fact. I have long thought that I would be able to establish myself as a writer by this age. Friends and family have been convinced that I would be published at almost any time for the better part of a decade. 

Meanwhile, I have always been less certain of immediate writing success, and more certain of eventual writing success. 

But, I am not a published author. I am a freelance writer, but I am the kind of freelance writer who struggles to pay the bills and takes just about any assignment I can get. I produce a huge quantity of writing in a week. Usually close to 20,000 words. But almost none of that mountain of production is my writing, my projects, my ideas, and inspiration. It’s writing to meet goals, deadlines, and the ideas of clients. 

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Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels

All that writing leaves little time for my projects, including this blog, organizing my desk and computer files, and working on querying for short stories. Not to mention the 2 novels I’m working on. 

So, while I’m paying the bills, progress toward my long-term goals has been glacial. 

Meanwhile, other friends and family members are creating successful careers and launching their dream businesses. As I help writing friends craft query letters and try to make time to read and critique other friends’ work, I find myself struggling with twinned emotions. 

On the one hand, I am happy for my friends. I’m genuinely proud of the work they are doing, and the tenacity, bravery, and skill it requires. I’m glad to see their successes. 

At the same time, I have to resist the urge to compare their successes to my failures. As I help a friend prep a manuscript for publication, I find myself lamenting the fact that I don’t have a manuscript of my own to prepare. As I share posts and art and try to boost the signal, I find myself wishing I had more of my own content to focus on. 

As my friends realize they want to be writers, I sit and quietly wonder why they are successful when I have been working toward this goal since grade school. 

It’s jealousy. And I know that comparing my life and work to other people is never going to be a fair or reasonable metric. But it’s a struggle not to when I’m helping others achieve my dreams, but cannot seem to do it for myself. 

This birthday, for me, feels like something to be mourned rather than celebrated. I know that I have most of a lifetime ahead of me to achieve my goals. I have most of a lifetime ahead of me to continue my journey of being and becoming. 

But, for me, this month is a marker of what may have been. What I may have done and have not. What I wanted, and cannot now reach. 

I am not sad to be growing older. Quite the opposite. But I think I am mourning for the child I am no longer, and for the idealism that created the goals I cannot meet. 

I think the cycle of joy and mourning is natural and normal. I’m not sad to be mourning, although mourning is sad. 

At the same time, I am trying to set my sights on celebrating the success of reaching another year. I have made it another year. I have overcome difficulty, I have grown and changed. I have learned. I have loved. I have spent another year on the path of self-acceptance and growth. 

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Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. from Pexels

have made important achievements this year. I graduated with my Bachelor’s. I stuck to my dreams enough to start building an income from writing. I have learned to be kinder to myself in hard times. To give myself breaks in good times and bad. 

I am still learning these things. I hope I never stop. 

So. Here’s to an upcoming birthday. Here’s to conflicted feelings and uncertainty. Here’s to knowing that there is no one true path. Here’s to getting lost in life. 

I’ll keep a light on. 

-R. 

Things They Are A’ Changin’

Hey There!

Wow. This has been an absolutely crazy couple of months.

I have a few blog-related announcements and well as just general catching up to do after being away for almost a full two months.

When I started writing seriously on this blog again this year my goal was to update the blog at least once a week, and preferably twice a week. I was doing really well for a while, and that consistency gave me my best traffic and viewership so far.

Thank you for that, by the way. Seeing that someone else actually reads what I write makes it seem a bit less like I’m shouting into the maw of a vast and uncaring universe.

But then my freelance work picked up and suddenly I was making a little money, and making that money took all my time.

That’s still largely where I am right now. I’m getting faster at writing my paid articles, which is why I have the time to put this out there today, but almost all of my time is still taken by the articles that (sorta kinda) pay the bills.

At the end of the day that means that the character of my blog needs to shift pretty dramatically for me to be able to keep up with it. And I think that you, the people who follow my blog and read it regularly, deserve to be kept informed of those changes.

 

The main thing is that, in an effort to get more content out, I’m going to start talking about personal stuff as much or more than I am putting out my typical social commentary and political analysis. Writing about whats going on, my new kitten, and other lighter subjects just takes less time.

I would rather shift my focus than lower the quality of my work and potentially not be able to adequately back up my views and opinions. I’ve worked hard to source and research the commentary articles I’ve put out so far, and I would hate to see that work sullied by inferior research and investment into follow up articles.

I still want to take on my Just World Hypothesis articles, as well as continuing to address the Democratic presidential candidates and the eventual 2020 Presidential race here in the U.S.A., but I can’t commit to any specific timeline on that kind of content since it does require time for research and analysis that I just simply do not have on a regular basis.

I also need to start making changes in this blog to build it into an income source of it’s own, which will allow me to spend more time on my writing here and less time ghostwriting other internet content to pay my bills.

Toward that end I want to hear from you. I’m planning to look into the Amazon affiliate program and starting to write book reviews as an amazon affiliate.

I am also considering starting a Patreon or Ko-fi profile and putting out novel chapters, short stories, and other works from my fiction writing there.

But for either of those thing to work, I need to know that you are interested in seeing that kind of content from me. Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think of those ideas, or if there is some other type of content that you would be interested in.

Maybe there’s a topic I haven’t addressed and you’re curious about my take on it? Let me know.

If you’re interested in following the updates on what I’m doing you can also follow me on Twitter @RhianninB or on my professional Facebook page. I also will occasionally be posting on Medium, although some of the content there will be the same content I’m writing here.

Thanks for being here, and hopefully this next phase will be as exciting as the last!

I’ll keep a light on.

-R

Struggle Is Normal – It’s Okay To Be Depressed

Well Hey There!

I’m going to be very real for a moment. I deal with PTSD, it causes depression and anxiety in alternating strokes. It’s hard to deal with, it’s hard to do anything around it, it’s hard to motivate with it.

And yet, I’m still here, still writing, still trying to create something worth putting out into the world.

Earlier today, for most of my working day, I have been struggling to write and article that I have, in truth, been working on for most of the week. It’s personal, it’s political, and it requires me to put myself out there in a way that is uncomfortable and frightening.

I also think it deserves to be written and deserves to be shared.

But it isn’t what I’m writing right now. You see, I have also been struggling with a mental health crisis the last several months precipitated by the car crash I wrote about in more detail several months ago.

But one of the biggest struggles has not been writing, I do that all the time, it hasn’t been finances, I saved to make taking a shot at this possible, it hasn’t been interpersonal, my partner is the most loving and supportive human I have ever met, my friendships are stronger now than ever before, my family cares about me and also supports this attempt.

My biggest struggle has been going for this dream, still being depressed and anxious, and feeling like a failure because of it. Life is as close to what I want as it has ever been. The missing pieces are small, the benefits are huge. It often feels like I can’t possibly do this without loving every second of it.

That isn’t true.

Mental health crisis is a part of life. So is hardship, lack of motivation, and difficulty finding inspiration.

I don’t want to hide those things. This work is difficult. It doesn’t yet pay. It takes me doing research, writing well, and being honest with myself and with you.

I am learning, all the time. And I am often overwhelmed.

And yet it is still worth it.

I’m writing this to repeat and to emphasize a bit of wisdom that is often repeated, but, I think, less often listened to. It is okay to be depressed. It is okay to struggle. It is okay to occasionally be unhappy.

Your depression defines neither you nor what you do.

Even when your depression or anxiety becomes difficult to manage, when it makes you second guess everything, it is still not all that you are.

You can do great things while depressed.

You can be a wonderful person while depressed.

You can be fulfilled and make meaning in your life, while depressed.

It’s trite, it’s true, and I often need the reminder myself.

So. I’m posting this instead of the article I have been working on all week. That article is coming, as are future posts about the Just World Hypothesis, updates on my other writing endeavors, Cool Things Other People Do, and much much more. Because my depression and PTSD is not going to stop me from being the person I want to be and doing the things I want to do.

I hope you are well.
I’ll be keeping a light on.

R.

The Just World Theory has Infiltrated the U.S.

That’s the thing about Ideals, they are almost always out of reach. We will, in all likelihood, always be working them. We’ve got a good way to go yet.

Hey there!

The world isn’t fair. It isn’t nice. It isn’t particularly Just.

I want to believe that it is, or that it could be, because a Just world makes so much more sense. A Just World gives us (humans) some control. We can enter into a transactional sphere where our actions have real and understandable consequences, good and bad, and those consequences make sense. Hard work = good job / successful life, etc. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way.

Continue reading “The Just World Theory has Infiltrated the U.S.”

Pride Month: An Update

For me, being my best self means being and owning that I am queer. With or without place. You don’t have to like it.

Hey there! Happy Pride!

I knew I would come back to this. I knew it. Last year I wrote a post about pride month expressing my discomfort in queer spaces and identities, despite identifying as a pansexual genderfluid human. If you haven’t read that post yet it’s worth taking a look before diving into this one. Continue reading “Pride Month: An Update”

Leaning Into The Future (and Failure)

Moments of fear and uncertainty, yes, even panic, can be moments of positive momentum and transformation. The trick is taking the reins and not letting the fear stop you.

Hey There!

I mentioned yesterday that the future, post college-graduation, is both exciting and frightening. In a lot of ways I suspect that that feeling is not unique to graduation, any graduation, but to any moment where who and what you are is in flux, like it is when you leave a job, work toward a major goal, or even stick to a New Year’s Resolution. So let’s talk about it. Continue reading “Leaning Into The Future (and Failure)”

Graduation

I still ask whether the debt and the time and the stress and the crisis was worth it. But I can say, with confidence, that I am a better person than the version of myself that graduated high school and thought that college would be easy.

Hey There!

It actually happened. I don’t know how it happened but… it did. I have officially earned a piece of paper more expensive than anything else I own. It might be a more expensive piece of paper than all the other things I own put together… I don’t know if that’s impressive or depressing. Continue reading “Graduation”