Stuck


I'm stuck. Totally stuck.

Here's what's going on over here: Write it. Read it. Hate it. Delete it. [Repeat.]

It's not that I don't have anything to say. I do. I have volumes. It's that I can't seem to organize my thoughts into anything that sounds like how I want it to sound. At this moment, I have seven half-written-in-my-brain posts that I can't seem to finish on paper. I am actually forcing myself to write these words and not delete them because I know it's the only way to un-stick myself. Ugh.

The biggest problem I have is a dark voice that creeps in and says, "You've written nothing of substance. Do better." And then my highly competitive (and largely repressed) side takes over and starts comparing my work to every novel I pick up, every play that I see, and every song that I hear. The upbeat, supportive friend side of my personality gets drowned out by a louder, uglier voice that screams, "Hurry! Go! You can do better." And I sit staring at a blank piece of paper with no idea how to start. And thinking that I will never come up with something that I don't reread and think, "I could have done better."

That is frustrating. And it may or may not be true. But, either way, I'm stuck.

Here's the thing about being stuck: I don't think it's what anyone actively chooses. When my oldest son was a toddler, he hated getting into his car seat. I would strap him into that five-point harness and he would yell, "STUCK!!!" at the top of his lungs for the duration of the car ride. I would calmly say to him over and over again, "You're not stuck. You're safe." I thought it would make him feel better to hear that he was safe, to reframe what he was feeling.

Well, now I'm the one stuck. Safe, I guess. And I don't like it. I don't like it one bit. When you're too safe, you get comfortable and you stop reaching. You accept the cage that you're in. You stop trying to make a difference. I don't want that. I want to stretch myself. I want to discover and learn something every day. I want to create something beautiful and haunting, something that sticks with you for a long time afterward. And I want to create something blisteringly funny, something that makes you laugh so hard you cry. Or wet yourself. Or both. And I want to create something that takes you to a different world and makes you think twice about everything in your own.

But I'm stuck instead.

So, I think I have to figure out what that means for me. It's certainly not the first time I've been stuck. And I'm sure won't be the last. And I know that everyone gets stuck once in a while. So, in one sense, it's a rite of passage. Maybe it means that something great is going to come out of this place I'm in. (I'm an optimist, after all.)

I also don't think I'm alone in being stuck right now. I'm hearing other people say that they're feeling stuck at work. Or that they're in a funk. Or that they're losing patience more than usual with their kids. Maybe it's going around. Maybe a bunch of us are stuck together, each of us on our own islands. Or maybe I'm stuck in the wilderness of my own mind.

I suppose that the good news is that, according to some pretty great sources, anytime you spend a significant amount of time wandering in the wilderness, you come out with some game-changing perspective. I do have faith that these jumbled thoughts are going to align. I'm just going to be wandering for a bit longer. And, as impatient as I am, I'm going to have to learn to embrace the process, to know that, right now, it's important for me to be stuck. It's important to work through some of these thoughts and to be open to where they're leading and that the way out of the cage isn't always where you think it is.

So, thank you in advance for your patience with me. And, if you're also stuck, just know that you're not alone. We can wander together.

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Allison Harvey