• Mohana Das

Am I a writer?

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

Waking up feeling anxious and not knowing why - this is not new to me. There was a point in my life when everyday was like this, and getting up in the morning was not something I looked forward to. Granted, the frequency of such mornings has reduced significantly since I quit my job and moved back home - but today it happened again, after many many weeks of peace.

I woke up with a sense of dread. It was 9 am, cold. The fan was off but the room was still chilly. They said there would be a dip in the temperature for a couple of days. The sudden icy morning air had got me wearing socks and a hoodie to bed, even under my comforter. I squinted my eyes open. I'm a person who can't sleep under harsh lights or sounds, so in addition to my room having dark curtains, I occasionally find myself half-asleep and reaching for a fluffy eye-mask sometime around dawn.

This was nice, though. I preferred the cold over the usual sweltering heat. Over coffee, a memory from my childhood suddenly flashed before my eyes - back when I used to spend all day lying in bed under the heavy quilt, eating snacks and watching the small TV in my room - and I realised how perfectly at ease my mind was back then.

Why was I suddenly anxious today?

To be honest, I knew part of the reason. Like I said, I was used to this. There are days when I don't feel motivated to do anything, and I just watch TV or go online for hours. I derive pleasure from basking in a complete lack of productivity. But its a short-lived pleasure, because what follows is a bigger wave of guilt for having wasted so much time not doing something of "value".

I suppose, as an individual in a capitalistic society, we've trained our brains to believe that we are only worth something if we are productive. We hold on to the belief that our existence only has meaning if we are constantly working, creating, making, doing.

If we invest our time into something that would never help us make money in the future, its deemed as time "wasted". I too was painfully aware of being trapped under this demanding spell. It doesn't matter, though. Even if you're aware of it, its not easy to convince your mind to not think or feel a certain way. We've all been brainwashed for decades - its not going to go away so easily, is it?

This was one of the sources of my anxiety that morning, and I knew it. It had roughly been 2 months since I quit my job, and I was living at home, unemployed. In the eyes of society, this is deemed as a failure. I'm also single, and nearing 30. All these factors add up to a big mountain of worry, which on most days, I simply cast aside. Today that mountain had somehow climbed onto my shoulders.

Yet, if I were to dig deeper to the root of the issue here, these superficial things didn't bother me much. The real problem was something I have been struggling with for years. After abruptly taking a break from a promising career in design, there was no obstacle left between me and the elephant in the room. I had no excuse left. Now I had to face the question I feared to ask myself the most: "Am I a writer?"

The truth? The honest answer to this question terrified me. Ever since I was a child, I knew immediately this was something I was exceptionally good at. Friends who read my work tell me I have a gift. I knew I wasn't bad at it. This I was certain of. No, what scared me even more was to one day realise that I wasn't exceptional or one of a kind - that I was mediocre.

Mediocre. The word of my nightmares. To be ordinary, in a world of 7 billion people, gives me unexpected anxiety on cold winter mornings like today. And now that I have nothing blocking my way or stopping me from giving it my best shot, I'm terrified.

What do you think? Shall I go for it? Shall I give it my all this time? If I fail, I will probably die as nothing but ordinary. Even though, I know in my heart, I'm not. What do you say - shall I find the answer to my question?

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