COLLAR CITY CRAWL (October 2022) -By: Jordan Lanegan
Written by Staff on October 9, 2022
It’s a thing none of us are good at or want to be. It’s uncomfortable. It doesn’t feel natural. It’s a sign of weakness. We’re taught to bottle up our emotions and put on a strong face; suck it up, princess – somebody has it worse.
But just because somebody has it worse, doesn’t mean that what you’re going through doesn’t matter. Somebody will always have it worse, and somebody will always have it better. That doesn’t invalidate your bad days, your fears, or your sadness, nor does it invalidate your good days, your success, or your happiness – at least it shouldn’t.
So, let me be a little uncomfortably vulnerable with you all.
A little over a week ago, I had a full-fledged breakdown on the floor of the El Dorado after I closed out my shift. It was the smallest thing that sent me over the edge, but you guys know how these things go, it’s a build-up of shit that you stuff down and compartmentalize, telling yourself that if you can just make it through the day, if you can just shove it somewhere in the vast corners of your mind, if you can just make it to bed, if you can just – it’ll eventually disappear.
And sometimes that works. But not always.
This was one of those cases.
It had been a rough couple of weeks, one thing after another, couldn’t seem to catch a break, when-it-rains-it-fucking-pours couple of weeks. That smile you continue to beam and that mantra you continue to repeat to get yourself through the shitstorm stops working, and then you’re just left feeling pissed off and burnt out. Pissed at yourself for not being able to shake it, pissed at all the little things you’re letting get under your skin that you typically brush off no problem – pissed that you’re pissed.
This breakdown was not pretty. It was downright ugly. Uncontrollably crying, shoulders shaking, snot running, why do I even try, what’s the fucking point sort of ugly.
The trivial thing that served as the catalyst for my mega-meltdown was only a front for the bigger culprit of my tipping point, something that had been said to me and was weighing on me heavy:
“Yeah, people were reading your article at the bar – a lot of them liked it – others were laughing.”
It wasn’t really the annoying new POS system that I was pissed at, and it wasn’t even Trish being extra-Trish (IYKYK) that day that I was really pissed at; it was hearing one of my biggest fears spoken out loud to me that took the cake. It validated my fear of failure and of not being good enough.
Putting yourself out there is hard. Many of us don’t think of ourselves as creatives, but I think that’s a cop-out. We’re all creative in some capacity, most of us are just too scared to even try. If we put ourselves in a box first, if we label ourselves before anybody else can, well then, what can they laugh at? How can they judge us? We beat them to the punch. Ha.
I read something recently that said the things we enjoy the most, we keep the closest to our hearts. We keep them in privacy and guard them fiercely. We’re terrified of sharing them with the world for fear of what others will say. We may dabble in creative outlets and surprise ourselves by how much joy we receive from doing so, but we don’t dare make a post about it. We won’t think twice about posting our avocado toast, lattes and new Target throw pillows on social media, but God forbid, we post the drawing or song we’ve secretly been working on that we’re actually quite pleased with and proud of. If it’s not perfect, then why bother?
What I’m about to say is likely going to make a lot of you cringe, but I’m going to say it anyway. For those of you into astrology, I’m a triple Virgo. Triple. Fucking. Virgo. For those of you who don’t know the significance of that or simply don’t give a shit, it means I’ve battled the illusion of perfection my entire goddamn life, and with that illusion comes the exhausting struggle of people pleasing, which is why hearing that sliver of criticism cracked me wide open. It’s funny how you can hear a thousand praises but it’s the negative comments that stick out and seem to define your worth.
So, I cried. A lot. Had my pity party of one and then realized – I don’t care. A very badass woman whom I consider one of my many mentors in the field told me to stop apologizing. Don’t say sorry, don’t write for anyone else but yourself, find your voice and hone your craft, everything else is just irrelevant background noise. Perhaps to some, my writing style is too optimistic and overly flowery. Perhaps it isn’t as pragmatic and hard-hitting as you’d like. I could do hard-hitting – I have done hard-hitting, and I’ve won awards for some of those pieces.
But what I’ve come to find is that my favorite pieces to write are the ones where I draw from my own experience, and those of others, and wrap it into one collective think-piece that will hopefully lend a new lens or resonate with someone in whatever way they need. Not everyone is going to like or relate to what you put out into the world, but that’s kind of the point. Not everything is for everyone, and that’s okay.
So, whatever shit you’re going through this month, I encourage you to let it out. Express it in some way and let yourself be vulnerable. Allow yourself to feel all the feelings and then share that with someone, even if it’s a total stranger (or in my case, a whole slew of strangers). Afterall, it is now officially soup season – the season for slowing down and checking in. The world is a much better place when we all stop pretending to be such hard-asses.
Till next time…