Anyone who knows me well has heard me talk about A Wrinkle in Time. I’ve probably urged them to read it, re-read it, or go on to the rest of the series. I’m a shameless fangirl and Madeleine L’Engle is my favorite author. I have a t-shirt with the original cover of Wrinkle; My first tattoo is a quote from A Swiftly Tilting Planet. Last year I was given a copy of her book A Circle of Quiet. It’s a difficult book to describe; it’s part memoir, part think piece, and all in all beautiful storytelling. Identifying distinct themes is a bit easier, although those are abstract as well. In reading her thoughts about creativity and the self, I feel like we would have gotten along. There are, of course, things that I don’t agree with, but even my disagreement kind of fits in with the main theme of living authentically.
L’Engle uses the word Ontology to describe her focus on existence and being authentic the summer she wrote the book, and it describes what I have spent the last two years working on. Not long after the start of my first semester at community college, I decided that I was done trying so hard.
This might sound like giving up, but it wasn’t. I didn’t stop trying to do well in my studies; I stopped trying to be perfect. It was killing me. I stopped trying to follow a set of expectations and priorities that I didn’t put in place for myself. I decided to live organically. To do this meant to allow myself to just exist. After spending so much time actively trying to believe a set of rules and philosophies that I grew up with, this wasn’t easy. My blog mini-series “Pieces” depicts a good part of that narrative; I started coming to grips with my childhood, becoming aware of my mental illness, and realized that I’m bisexual.
This isn’t an easy thing to do. Removing the expectations put on me by others means forming (realistic) goals for myself, which is something I’m still learning how to do. I jokingly call myself a “recovering type A personality,” but it’s accurate. The week before Thanksgiving I got overly competitive in a game of street hockey and gave myself a sprained ankle that still isn’t healed because I didn’t give it time. Professors and advisors have told me that this drive to be perfect and not make mistakes is what’s holding me back from learning some things. When you combine this with depression and anxiety, the number of unfinished projects and blog drafts that sit waiting for publishing because I can’t get them perfect is– pitiful. This post has been on the drafting board for 6 months, and posting it at all is nerve wracking. What if there’s something in here that’s wrong? What if I disagree with something at some unknown point in the future? What if it’s too long and no one actually wants to read it? Then I’ll have to apologize or clarify, and move on.
Allowing yourself to live is a long process, it would seem. Allowing yourself and your creations to be imperfect is necessary. When you start working towards that, it hurts. But, as you gradually let things go you begin to develop a taste for freedom.