Being in a Relationship with Yourself

Does everything that feels creative eventually fall to a place that feels dead?

My love for writing has grown disproportionately to my ability to understand what I’m doing along this timeline of being a writer.

This time last year, I was embarrassed to tell people about my blog. I was embarrassed to tell others I was a writer.

But also this time last year, I wrote with fervor. I pushed and pushed to be who I said I was.

Now, I believe I am that person, but I have little more to show for it than I did back then. Now the shame is gone, but the fervor is, too.

What has changed, if nothing has changed? If I’ve grown in security but shrunk in creation? Do those results cancel each other out?

I’ve settled into the person I desired to be. I’ve accepted her. Does that mean I grow bored with her? The same way I treat most partners when the relationship becomes “normal”?

I don’t want to be that kind of partner.

hourglass sandglass timer

All these things must tie together. A series of romances that ended similarly—crash-burning when fantasy didn’t hold up to reality—must relate somehow to the relationship I began with creativity around when the first of the love charades began.

In them, I went along saying,

“Hey, the way we’re treating this isn’t realistic; you don’t know me well enough for these proclamations of love.”

And eventually—predictably—the strain of false hope weighed too heavily on ties that require the strength of years .

Yet typing that also reminds me of this: I was also the one saying,

“Hey, this is not realistic of us, but I will push forward anyway. I will give this a fair shot.”

Which means I’m usually not the one to leave—for better or worse.

And in a relationship with myself, maybe that’s exactly what I need. To be here, writing in the most boring of ways (edits, edits, edits) and know that on both sides, both Meggans are saying:

Hey, this is not realistic of us, but I will push forward anyway. I will give this a fair shot.


Your thoughts? I’d love to hear form you below…

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When Do You Harvest Yourself?

This August finds me in a whirlpool.

It’s not always a bad thing. But it is a thing. You know the feeling? 

Consolation comes from knowing that I was in this exact whirlpool last August, too.  

Something about sensing life was about to change, that life needed to change, but reaching that oblique “changed” point could only be done with blind steps into the mire.

Being here again makes me think about years, and seasons.

It’s been said that the human condition follows a relative harvest year (not necessarily congruent with regional climates). So…

Spring/Planting → Ideas-Action-Creativity

Summer/Upkeep → Results-Outcomes-Maintenance (weeding)

Autumn/Harvest → Results of Effort-“What’s Next?”-Preparation for winter

Winter/Death → Doubt-Scarcity-Incapacity

On and on, the season cycle continues.

It certainly seems applicable to my past year. If so, winter has begun. All my habits have been falling off. Even morning journaling—a stalwart for 10 months—has diminished.

Much that’s been planted, loved, grown, and harvested now seems lethargic or inert. It’s scary. My first impulse is to figure out what’s wrong, but maybe it’s just frozen ground for a while.

Natural—not wrong.

If the seasons theory holds, productivity should come again, sooner or later.

This reminds me of something else: love. Ever noticed a similar cycle play out in relationships?

person in the middle of a whirlpool

Anyway, that’s all I have. I’m in New Zealand with the prospects of spreading roots here for the foreseeable (short-ish-term) future. Fittingly enough, it’s winter here. I wonder what’s next.

I’d love to hear your thoughts? Leave ’em below.

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Feeling the Way You Feel

One of the more annoying questions I ask myself is, “Yes, but do I really feel that way?”

Why is this so annoying? At its root, it implies an attempt to be “connected” to myself. That seems innocent enough . . . right?

But here’s a new idea I’m toying with: If I feel something, that’s how I feel.

That’s all.

No questioning, no over-analysis, no resistance.

Second-guessing emotions tends to stem from an undercurrent of doubt I have toward my decisions…

Am I making the right choices? Is life stupid? Should I eat that? Is my boyfriend delusional? Am I delusional? Are we all lying to ourselves about everything?

Going one step deeper, though, I should ask: Why am I operating in a state of doubt at all? Is it general distrust? Pride (i.e., not wanting to be wrong)? Low self-esteem?

Those first two things are probably just symptoms of the third.

Maybe I’m in denial about thingsall things? Some things? I’m not sure.

But states of denial produce feelings, too. And these feelings, just like non-denial-based feelings, could easily change with new information. Hell, they could change without new information.

city lights at night

Many decisions I’ve made or reversed in life didn’t result from having been in denial beforehand (quitting jobs, moving, quitting lovers).

In those cases, something was explored and ultimately abandoned. Everything served its purpose, and then my feelings changed.

I’m going to try to stop second-guessing myself so much. Feelings are so inexplicable that it may be denial to tell myself I can control or understand them at all.

Besides, I have a . . . feeling (sorry) they’re going to run the show either way.

 


 

This post was difficult for me to write, I suppose because it’s about feelings.

I don’t quite know what feelings are, and writing about them seems vague at best. I want to believe they’re just results of chemical mashups within our physiology, but I suppose that’s not giving them enough credit.

I’d love to know if you relate or if you have any thoughts on the subjectleave a comment below.

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Serene Minus the Serenity

I’ve always believed that enlightenment means being serene in the face of everything.

A financial loss won’t throw me. Tired mornings won’t throw me. A lover leaving won’t throw me.

All these things I will smilingly accept once I find the secret to feeling ever-serene.

The desire to reach this point leads me to be quite hard on myself. It’s like having a drill sergeant in my mind, but his arms and legs are tied up, so all he can do is holler and protest instead of actually lead me to take action.

When I reflect on the things I berate myself about, they usually don’t deserve it. For example:

Sleeping more than eight hours=“What’s wrong with you meggan—you usually sleep seven—why aren’t you at optimal energy?”)

Housekeeping (cleaning, catching up on emails, etc.) instead of professional work.

Lacking regular income despite arranging this time specifically to be without income.

Spending quality time with loved ones when I’ve finished work for the day=“You don’t have time for quality time until your book is finished!”

The funny thing is that I then get upset with myself for getting upset with myself—for not being more enlightened and serene about it all. A serene person knows that everything will work out fine. A serene person doesn’t criticize herself.

There is a part of me that is this serene person. But there’s a disconnect between that and the part of me that likes to pull rules out of the air and then tell myself I’ve broken them.

My deep philosophy doesn’t align with my surface-level thinking.

serene shot of a pond

Maybe it’s not about “becoming” a serene person, but feeling serene in the absence of serenity. Loving the thoughts that berate, but not listening. Embracing their existence and inviting them to do so in perpetuity.

One of my favorite meditation techniques is to treat distracting thoughts as “corks bobbing in the ocean.” They pop up, then drift away. This can be done outside of meditation, too (d’oh!).

The first line of the serenity prayer asks,

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.”

The semantics don’t imply that acceptance leads to serenity. The implication is serenity first, and acceptance follows.

The word order is important.

I don’t expect myself to be Buddha, but I do want serenity. Maybe all it takes is redefining what that means.

 


 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. I’m currently traveling a lot, so given the unsteady footing, serenity keeps coming to mind.

Life is more and less easy when lived with someone, and after so much time alone, it’s been a beloved struggle to now share so much time with another person.

Anyway, leave a comment below or sign up to stay in touch.

Writer’s Block if There’s Nothing at Stake?

There are seasons for all things in life. (I think someone wrote a song about that.)

Moments to work like a hound, moments to rest. Times for sugar, times for health.

There’s falling in love, there’s solitude.

Lately I’ve been waking up, grabbing my journal, and finding I don’t have much to say. Classic writer’s block seems a doubtful culprit since there are no deadlines or responsibilities with my casual morning writing.

What I fear, then, is emotional block. If I can’t dump my straying accumulated thoughts on to page each morning, are they even there?

Since I believe that emotions—repressed or not—are a human fuel, I can only assume that indeed I have something to write about, somewhere. So why can’t I hear it?

My irritating tendency is to paint things in black and white: If I’m not journaling well, it must be because I’m losing touch with my emotions. If I’m not in touch with my emotions, how will I be a good writer?

Next? Panic.

messy easel with paint

So, I try to work on my color palette, to reframe the situation.

Perhaps I don’t have to slap an analysis on this season of less journaling. Stop worrying now and trust that the season will change in its time.

If morning journaling is the subconscious “dump,” maybe my subconscious is occupied with something else, something more important than daily thought drifts. Perhaps it’s busy hatching a plan that will change my life completely.

There.

I’ve assumed the best instead of the worst (i.e. that I’ve become cut off from my emotions so my writing career is over).

There’s also this:

When I began journaling last September, I was living alone in a foreign country. I remained solitary and essentially without social life until May, albeit stateside.

But since May, I’ve been getting more involved with my partner. Talking to someone for hours a day may be an outlet for all those thoughts that would have gone to paper.

Also, reflecting on his mind takes the place of the thoughts I was spending on myself, and that’s probably a good thing.

There was an unhealthiness in the amount of de facto self-reflection time I had before. I should have been volunteering more or fostering dogs—something to take my mind away from the pressures I put upon it.

So while I’m nervous about less journaling, I’m trying to give space to the idea that I don’t have to define what’s happening. Maybe it’s simply adjusting to sharing life with someone. It’s certainly been a while.

Or maybe it’s something else entirely.

I guess we’ll see.


I barely know what I’m saying with all this, but I think it has something to do with not trying to be so controlling and critical toward myself. If you have any thoughts, I’d love to hear them below.

Another thing I’d love? You subscribing 😉

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What Are You When You Grow Up?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Don’t answer that.

You can spend a lifetime chasing after that question. Landing on something, asking if it’s right…wondering if you’ve made a mistake. Deciding to wait, stay, or try something else.

The five-year-old son of a friend came home the other day distressed. My friend said, “What’s wrong?”

The crestfallen child admitted, “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.”

kid hiding behind a gate

Good is Easy, Happy is Hard

As kids and teenagers, we hear things like:

You’re so great at that—you should be a [salesman, pilot, singer, investor, etc.] when you grow up!

The implicit message is that we should strive to make a living off what we’re good at. But we humans can be good at a lot of things. And there are a lot of things to be good at. But it’s easy to be good, less easy to be fulfilled.

When we commit to certain paths, we are committing to eschew infinite others.

Most of us don’t get a good idea of who we are until we’re at least into our twenties. But beliefs we have about ourselves often take shape before then. The decisions we’ve made based on those early-formed beliefs should be inspected often to see if they still hold true.

“Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.”

Mary Schmich, Chicago Tribune, sung by Baz Luhrmann in Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)

In my youth, I was told I should pursue singing because I was a good singer. This advice lodged itself in my mind as truth, probably because adults were saying it. For years I half-heartedly pursued music thinking I was “supposed” to make use of the gift.

Since I’d been told I was great on stage, I also gave acting a try. I’m great at talking about food, so I was a foodie for a few years.

I finally accepted I just didn’t love those things enough. I liked them, but not enough. I would still be doing one of them if so.

Nobody ever told me I should be a writer and I never thought it was possible. Eventually, I reconsidered–I was lucky. Most people think it’s too late to pivot when they’re 30. Many people think it’s too late when they’re 20.

It’s never too late.

man in middle of four diverging paths

Service + Enjoyment

Angela Duckworth advises not to ask “What do I want to be when I grow up?” but instead, “In what way do I wish the world were different? What problem can I help solve?”

Essentially: “How can I be of service?” But that’s missing something. The question should be:

How can I be of service while enjoying myself?

Life is too short not to enjoy the way you spend time. More importantly, if you don’t enjoy yourself, you’re probably not being very useful.

I’m not being kumbaya, it’s true: being of service will make you feel good. It makes us feel valuable, powerful, and useful. It gives meaning to our actions; we all know how empty it feels to spend hours (or lifetimes) on something where the end goal is profit.

Think of life as a bank that deals in good and bad feelings. You are the investor and the currency. When you contribute to good, you are part of the resulting growth, and you feel bigger. When you take away from good, you are part of the loss, and you feel smaller.

Or maybe you sit in limbo adding and taking nothing. Maybe that’s worse.

Aim to be a net-addition. You don’t have to save the earth. You don’t have to rescue orphans. I’ve never felt so valuable as when someone says “thank you for writing that.”

There is no when you grow up. You are what you are right now.

Is it worth it?

 


I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. What did you want to be when you grew up? Did it change? Did you stick with it? How do you feel now?

Leave a comment!

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