I was fairly shy when I was a kid. I moved a lot and went to 5 different elementary schools in 4 different states. I was scared of asking other kids to play with me, for fear of rejection, which was silly, because I was a pretty likable kid and generally had an easy time making friends.

Me, 9 years old.I was also fairly prolific as a kid. I wrote stories (including having a very short picture book, made of paper stapled between construction paper covers, displayed in my school library in 1st grade with the note “Young Author”), wrote and drew comics, and filled notebooks with illustrations, maps, story fragments and ideas. I also went to school and did most of my schoolwork, read a lot of books and comics, watched a lot of TV, played with my toys, hung out with friends and spent quality time with my family.

I’m really missing that kid this morning.

As an adult, I’ve had my heart broken a lot, and I’ve broken a heart or two in my time. Yet I have no problem throwing myself into romantic relationships. Despite still being shy and insecure at times, I have little problem striking up conversations with strangers and making new friends. But despite feeling a desperate need to create, to write stories and poems, to make up worlds and draw maps, to share my dreams with others, I find myself blocked. Blocked by fear.

Sure, I make excuses: I don’t have time, I’m tired after work, I’ve got other things to do. But those are lies. If I could find the time when I was a kid, I could find the time now. My work requires me to sit at a computer all day and sometimes interact with the public–not exactly body-breaking, energy-sucking labor. Yes, I have adult things to do, like cooking and cleaning and paying bills. But it’s not like those things take hours out of my day.

What am I so afraid of? Why am I afraid to fill the blank page in front of me? Why do I stop myself from playing the way I did when I was a kid? Why am I afraid to do something I enjoy?

I don’t know, but I’m working on ways to push myself past the fear. I’m tired of giving in to the fear. I want to learn to be that kid again.


4 thoughts on “Clay

  1. If you’re anything like me (and I know I am), you’re afraid that what ends up on the page won’t be as good as previous work, or that the process of creating will be more work for less fun, or that today’s the day you open the creativity box and find it permanently empty.

    Of course, you may not be like me, and may be afraid that the monster behind your chair (don’t look, for god’s sake, don’t look behind you…) will attack as soon as you’re distracted by creating. But I think that’s slightly less likely.

  2. Yeah, that makes sense. The first part, not the part about the monster. Thanks, pal.

  3. To overcome your fears learn to embrace your failures. Failing is something that we learn more from than success. Unfortunately our early peers and education systems made the simple act of failure a horrible thing instead of one of the best ways to learn.

  4. You’re exactly right, Barry. Fear of failure is a huge part of the block. When I was a kid, I never worried about failing in things like prose and comics. I just did it and loved it. When it comes to striking up conversations and initiating romantic relationships, there’s a big fear of rejection, but I’m somehow able to get past that. I can get past the fear of failure with writing for short periods, but getting past it consistently and continuously has so far eluded me.

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