In An Attempt To Make Myself Relevant I Have Written An Essay

Overly Explanatory Introduction: I’ve been experimenting lately with the essay form, because hashtag millennial, zeitgeist, modernity, youth, the internet, etcetera ad infinitum lorem ipsum expelliarmus. 

All the young people are doing it, you see. I’ve long wondered about the trend for personal essays (except when it comes to David Sedaris, who makes all of the sense) so I thought I’d experiment by trying to write a short essay which was perhaps humorous, but not necessarily that personal. There are only so many tales I can stomach of crippling personal grief or embarrassment on the road to personal revelation (leading, most probably, to further crippling personal grief or embarrassment), so I have no wish to add to them.

Also, this summer I will be experimenting with not constantly giving out on this blog about things I possibly don’t really understand which might possibly create embarrassment in my future. And that’s about as personal as I’m going to get.

So with that in mind, here’s one I made earlier, called “Naming Your Fears”.

 In An Effort To Make Myself Relevant I Have Written An Essay

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Naming Your Fears

Over wine in the atrium of a very nice hotel, a friend recently in possession of some very good news told me that she was probably more afraid of success than of failure. I nodded sagely at this, sipping at my overpriced red, while thinking although it made perfect sense, it didn’t apply to me: after all, I couldn’t see the point of being afraid of something you never believed you’d have.

As that thought did a U-turn in my head and came back for a return match, my mind opened up to other crippling fears I pretended not to have, such as the fear that I might regret my life choices when I got older, or that I was already old, and regretted them now.

That pinnacle of wisdom – the internet – once told me that the best way to conquer irrational fears was to name them. It said that identifying something meant that you could stand outside it and see it for what it truly was. Spinners of ancient legends often held that knowing the true names of gods and monsters gave mere mortals some power over them. There was a delicious comfort in the idea that knowing the true name of what kept me awake at night might close the gate on those fears, while tranquil sheep filed past, one by one, corralling me gently into sleep.

So I decided to give it a go, and began with my fear of failure. I named him Kevin.

I imagined Kevin as a thundershower cloud hanging out mainly in my bathroom, looking threatening and depressing, but never quite getting to full burst. He would fit in quite well with my mood in the mornings, but was best avoided at night, particularly if one got up in the wee small hours for a little light relief.

Imagining Kevin as a sentient and frustrated thundercloud was an empowering experience, in that it empowered me with a whole new sense of humour about my bathroom. I’m not sure what it did with my fear of failure, however, which remained as omnipresent and unspecific as the weather forecast.

Walter’s name came easily to me. Walter was a quivering lightning bolt, perpetually in motion, with the tendency to sneak up behind me when I least expected. He would whisper admonishments in my ear about how I’d never amount to anything; and even if I did, success wouldn’t suit me, and would ruin everything that already made life comfortable and pleasant, exposing me instead to judgement and certain ridicule. But there was something too endearing about a jittering, shivering lightning bolt, his beady eyes fixed into a permanent state of over-caffeinated terror. My fear of success seemed likely to have more longevity than a sudden jolt of electrocuted luck.

I tried changing the gender of my fears, pooling my anxiety about making the wrong decisions into Samantha, a white long-haired cat with a low tolerance for humans. I saw her perched on the arm of the couch in my sitting room, never in my direct field of vision, but always in the corner of my eye.

Samantha did not like to be touched. She greeted any enthusiasm or optimism with a disdainful hiss, teeth bared and claws drawn. With Samantha I had more success, picturing myself facing down this spiteful kitty with gritted teeth, my heels digging into the plush carpet. Unfortunately, just as soon as I began to feel victorious, Walter arrived on the scene and electrocuted Samantha, leaving me with nothing but my own inadequacy, and the lingering smell of burnt cat hair.

I sipped my wine in the nice hotel, listening as my friend told me that her recent accomplishments made it even more terrifying to pursue her dreams, now that they had zoomed into focus, more within reach than ever before.

I saw Walter quivering behind her in a paroxysm of white heat, about to explode with the amount of sheer potential, of all that my friend might achieve. I nodded, because I too truly believed she could achieve great things. The only person who didn’t believe this, was my friend. In an unexpected moment of communion, Walter blinked his beady eyes at me slowly, and I bowed my head once more in his direction. I’ve got this, I told him silently. I’ll call you if I need you.

 

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  39 comments for “In An Attempt To Make Myself Relevant I Have Written An Essay

  1. June 7, 2017 at 8:54 am

    Reblogged this on Anita Dawes & Jaye Marie.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. June 7, 2017 at 8:56 am

    Ahhh….the Committee. I thought, I was fairly certain, they worked for, were employed by, me. Just me, me, me! And now I discover they’re holding down a second job with you, you, you! Ok. Fine. (but I never figured Walter for a two-timer—Samantha, yes, of course, that’s just who Sam is. But Walter…?) Gutted.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. June 7, 2017 at 8:56 am

    I really enjoyed reading this, especially the analogy with various weather aspects. I shall be thinking about my own problems in a totally different way now. More please!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. June 7, 2017 at 10:11 am

    Perfectly true, we are so much kinder to our friends than ourselves. This morning I was speaking to myself about doing something I was afraid to do (suck up my pride and call a guy about a job) and the words I used were ‘you CAN do it’. Made me realise I am much more prone to saying that to my kids but hardly ever to myself. Anyway, I did call him but he’s not in today, will have to do it all again on Friday. I’ll call this one Michael.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. June 7, 2017 at 11:40 am

    OK now, you’re QUITE sure you don’t actually write epic fantasy? Spirits of your emotions personified and walking around this Alleged Real World? Only you can see them and have this wondrous, telepathic relationship? After all, what noble quest could top the need to discharge some static into an uppity house-cat! You show me the cover of an autobiographical novel with Walter dramatically turning Sam into a puff of fur just above your couch, and my money’s going on the counter.

    Liked by 2 people

    • June 7, 2017 at 2:29 pm

      If I wasn’t sure before, Will, I am now. How could I resist that pitch? If only I’d written the damn thing. Oh, hang on…

      Liked by 2 people

  6. June 7, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    Worthy if Mr Sedaris. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  7. June 7, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    See, this is why I don’t write essays. Worthy of.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. June 7, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    Oh dear! Laughing myself sick here. If I'[d have had breakfast yet it would have made a return appearance for sure… 😛

    Liked by 2 people

    • June 7, 2017 at 2:30 pm

      Would you like some mint tea, Jan? I’ve heard it’s good when mirth fights back. I’ve never laughed, so I wouldn’t know.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. June 8, 2017 at 1:25 am

    This is an amazing post!! Your personification of your fears is brilliant. You’re right – just the act of identifying our fears makes them slightly less terrifying and have less power over us. I’m going to go make a list of my fears right now. Thank you so much for posting this! Wish you the best – speak766

    Liked by 2 people

  10. June 12, 2017 at 11:52 am

    Reblogged this on Nicholas C. Rossis and commented:
    Another brilliant post by Tara

    Liked by 2 people

  11. June 12, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    Great “first” essay, Tara! Walter is a personal friend of mine. We go way back. 🙂 And, Kevin…oh, he’s just pathetic.

    Liked by 2 people

    • June 12, 2017 at 4:06 pm

      Thank you, Jan. You know, I didn’t want to say it, but I think Walter’s kind of fickle. Loads of people seem to ‘know’ him, if you know what I mean. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  12. June 12, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    My personal favourite is Samantha!

    Liked by 2 people

    • June 12, 2017 at 4:07 pm

      Samantha would appreciate that – if she liked anything. Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case…

      Liked by 1 person

  13. June 12, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    Reblogged this on Kim's Author Support Blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. June 13, 2017 at 10:50 am

    Well done. Samantha was my personal favorite personification too. So relatable and well written.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 13, 2017 at 11:33 am

      Thank you so much! I’ve let Samantha know. She pretended not to care, but I could tell she was secretly pleased.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. June 13, 2017 at 11:52 am

    Great post, Tara! Thanks for naming and shaming the insidious Kevin, Walter and Samantha. There’s nowhere to hide, now, guys … we can all see you.

    Like

    • June 13, 2017 at 4:41 pm

      I’m still a bit worried, Sue. Does this give them more power, or less?!

      Like

  16. June 21, 2017 at 1:43 am

    Reblogged this on mallie1025 and commented:
    Great humorous essay

    Liked by 1 person

  17. June 21, 2017 at 1:52 am

    Reblogged this!! This is a well written, funny essay–just the right size. My writing skills–such as they are–were nurtured and built from the essay; especially humorous ones. It’s my favorite form of writing. For those who think it’s childs’ play, just try writing one. Done right, they are a thing of beauty like a well metered poem and encompass every emotion of humankind–sometimes in one essay. Never thought to name my fears . . .Hmmmmm, where to start . . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 21, 2017 at 9:38 am

      Thank you Micki! I found it a big change for me, especially the tone, but hope to do more essays in the future.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. September 20, 2017 at 9:45 am

    Really like your flow! Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

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