Lately I’ve become one of those terrible people who constantly jiggle their foot. I cause mini-earthquakes in class, on the train, eating dinner in my living room. Its like my internal flaws have become so large and neglected they feel the need to make their presence known externally, to shout to the world: this person is not put together! She is not calm or collected, not confident or prepared. She is, like the foot she is shaking, possibly about to lose control.
In other words, I’ve been anxious. I have anxiety about lots of things, from the color of my fingernails to my inevitable death. I’ve always had it in a small way, as I think most normal, functioning humans do. I think anxiety comes with whatever the opposite of apathy is, care or passion or just trying to do things. Doing stuff causes anxiety, and I’m fine with that. I’d rather create something I’m nervous about than not creating anything at all. I guess.
Also: writing. It seems very connected to my jiggling foot. I think writing is a very anxiety producing art, or hobby, or profession. Throwing out your thoughts for people to judge. Most harshly, yourself. I’m anxious I’ll never write what I hope to. I’m anxious when I don’t write. I’m anxious when I write badly. When I get negative feedback, I doubt myself. When I get positive feedback, I wonder if this is the best I ever will be, if I’ll ever live up to my potential, if I’ll die without ever having—you get it. I spiral.
Eventually I decide not to care. It helps the anxiety but not the writing. Of course, writing isn’t the only thing I, or any writer, gets anxious about. There’s all of life waiting for you off the page, all those other people and places and job interviews to worry about. Sigh.
But writing can help with that, when I realize that no one cares but me. And when I try to keep caring, but in a steady way that lets myself suck sometimes, and do a good job at others. It’s helped me to write stupid things, dumb letters to my friends or fake stories for my little cousins. To tell myself that there will never be a final moment, a single masterpiece, and that I will just have to keep going, living and writing, slowly and with a light tapping of my foot.