I write a lot. And often. And somewhat compulsively. I write blog posts and Instagram posts. I am writing a book. I have written countless essays without a home that may never be seen by anyone. I write from the moment I get up in the morning nearly every morning. Oftentimes I wake up before the sun gets up and definitely before my family gets up. I stumble to the bathroom and I start muttering phrases to myself. I am writing and rewriting in my head. I make a pot of coffee and I feed my cats, and all the while I mutter to myself, sorting out my words. Then I sit down at my desk and all the words I was muttering appear on the glowing monitor before me. Sometimes I continue to write well into the day. Other times I write for only those first quiet moments of the day.
I write because I am trying to answer the question, “Am I normal?” over and over again. And I don’t mean normal as in boring. I mean normal as in:
Is it okay that I am thinking/feeling/acting this way?
Why am I thinking/feeling/acting this way?
Am I the only person that thinks/feels/acts this way?
This lends itself to the question, “Who am I asking this question for?”
It depends. Sometimes it’s me. Sometimes it’s you. And sometimes it’s both of us together.
I read a lot of personal essays, memoirs, and coming of age stories. I connect with vignettes of a life lived and thoughts thought. As long as I have been buying books with lots of chapters and few-to-no pictures, I have been reading stories peppered with observational humor. I like stories that let us learn about individual people and compassionately laugh at them - the things they make, buy, and do - and the relationships they have. I love authors who make me literally laugh out loud, and exclaim, “Yes! Me too!” What I am saying is that I like to be able to laugh at myself lovingly and with compassion. In that moment of laughter (at the author and myself) I am acknowledging that although I may feel totally weird and broken sometimes, so does everyone else. I am acknowledging that whatever feels wrong about us is simply part of the greater human condition.
Reading has allowed me to feel connected to other people when I could not have otherwise. And on some occasions a piece of writing has spoken for me better than I could have. In those cases I have actually handed the work to a partner or a friend. And although I would like to think that I don’t need another person’s words to communicate some of my biggest feelings anymore, I am not certain that this is true. When we are overwhelmed, our ability to communicate and connect becomes compromised. And those times when we are overwhelmed is when we most need to connect. When I am overwhelmed my mutterings become less intelligible. Rather than write, I feed my cats and then I check Facebook.
I write to give to you what some of my favorite authors have given me. I write to normalize the messy human experience and to let you know that you are not alone. While I regard being “completely normal” to be overrated, I do believe it is nice to know we are not alone in our feelings. It is soothing to get an idea as to why we are as we are. So I write in service of helping you to feel connected to others, and to me, and to all the people who at first glance appear to have life all worked out but are, in fact, beset by the human condition as well.