Spoiler warning if it’s even necessary. Mild plot details of last night’s episode of Girls.
I can’t believe it took me this long to find something I felt truly uncomfortable about on Girls. I mean, there’s tons of awkward stuff for sure. Isn’t half the humour derived from seeing bad things happen to terrible, selfish characters? The show has its fair share of emotionally raw scenes too. My heart strings have been tugged into an elaborate cat’s cradle more than once watching the exploits of those 4 privileged white girls navigating the landmines of life as an early twenty something in New York. That was different. I may have felt saddened or sympathetic, but I still had the emotional shield of distance from the characters. Less so tonight. Watching Hanna face the onslaught of criticism from her peers didn’t “trigger” me, but definitely called to some deeply entrenched fears I’ve crammed down for quite some time.
I’m terrified of failing.
Well that’s not exactly true. I’m not so much terrified of failing as terrified of trying. It’s not exactly a huge revelation and I’m sure most can identify, but I can unflinchingly say that I have a crippling fear of giving my heart to something and seeing it trampled. Honestly, it’s been years since I last really tried. Any creative endeavour I partake in, any chance for me to express myself through artistic methods is thrown out there with a pinch of irony and a kilo of self-deprecation. If I don’t try, how can I be hurt? I see so many people creating better things than I think myself possible of doing. Risk avoidance is really all that it is, but enough so that I don’t really know how to put effort in any more.
The last time I can honestly say I gave a shit would’ve been back in Rotorua, working as a production engineer. I worked my ass off and made a lot of audio I was sincerely proud of. When I shifted back to Auckland to be with my partner at the time (and, honestly, to move away from my severe unhappiness with everything but my job down there) I felt like I left with my tail between my legs. I felt like I’d finally found something I could do well, something that captivated me and made me feel like I’d created something worth putting my name to. Then I left it. I took jobs that paid better, that filled the day and funded my rent, but never fulfilled me. I left more than my spare snuggie in that studio.
Examples are sorely easy to find.
- I quit doing stand-up because I wasn’t getting enough quick traction. It was hard, and hard wasn’t satisfying.
- When I was jobless and looking for something to do, Gawker was hiring. I was afraid to try and create something worthwhile of consideration and so, despite a hugely supportive partner at the time, I refused to submit anything under the guise of a distaste for their “clickbait journalism”. It sure would’ve done more for me than teaching children to cartwheel.
- A great friend was kind enough to throw me a bone and offer me a paid writing job on the adult club I’ve frequented since I arrived. The pressure of putting something together under legit editorial scrutiny was too much, so I didn’t do anything. I said I was too busy with gig reviewing.
- I’ve had opportunities for audio work here, which would require some nose-to-the-grindstone refamiliarising with certain editing software. Turned my nose up at that idea. Missed out.
- This entire writing project has afforded me huge opportunity to create anything I want. A former partner pointed out that I so often avoid truly difficult things with flippancy. There are no limits here, but it seems that every time I touch on something challenging or demanding I cut ties and move on. How many skeletons of great ideas are littering my archives? If I really wanted to produce something, why haven’t I taken that step?
Fear, that’s it. Knowing and acknowledging it doesn’t get me anywhere without the push to do it. I’ve got strong support networks and zero excuse not to jump for it. These people who seem to fearlessly put themselves out into the world, it’s not like they’re not afraid. I know so many of them. They had to start somewhere. I know it’s something I’m capable of, but as G.I. Joe so capably point out, knowledge is only half the battle. Still, what are the chances I’ll get off this seat galvanised and ready for action when it’s so much easier to rest back as an aimless armchair critic? I can watch all the beautiful motivational videos I want, but platitudes aren’t gonna do much without the courage to fall.
My name might mean lion, but I clearly skew more Wizard of Oz than Lion King.