A Contemplation on Quitting

Never am I going to become a prolific writer. Never am I going to grow thicker skin. Never am I going to stop being hurt. Never am I going to change the world with my words. If all these nevers are what make up my literary career, then the question arises of why I continue to do it. The answer used to be that I did it to change the world a little—if I positively affected even one person in the world with my work, it was worth all the abuse, the feelings of failure, and the low self-esteem. But now, it feels like I’m getting fucked over in this deal.

I can't do anything other than write and even my writing is mediocre a best. The undying empathy and need to leave the world in slightly better shape than I found it haunts me and guilts me into doing whatever I can to accomplish this. Writing has been the way to not only do that but to also cope with my own agonies, frustrations and heartbreaks. It's become a coping mechanism for when I'm thrown into a rage or am hurt: I redirect that emotion into an article that someone happily pays me to write. And then that overwhelming emotion is expressed in a healthy way and my self-esteem is raised at the same time.

But maybe I'm too emotional too often. Maybe there isn't enough time to write about all the things that break my heart in this world. I'm touched by everything from that unthoughtful person on the subway to the throngs of women being tortured, raped and killed in various parts of the world. It's overwhelming. I'm constantly told to take a break if I need to, rest and then return to my battles of which I am a feminist warrior. But how can I? I may be able to take a break from writing, but I'll still feel all those awful things I feel. The only difference will be that there'll be a short time when I'm not attacked by folk who rely on the anonymity of the internet to attack me for daring to use my voice. And the more I think about it, the more it seems like a perfect trade off.

Let the other people of the world fight the good fight and leave me to some much-needed peace. Let the people of the world suffer and destroy each other and leave me to quietly die and never return. Let the world crumble around me and leave me to get lost in my own small corners of joy whenever I stumble upon them. To hell with the world and to peace with my soul.

But I hate people like that. I hate the people who take "live and let live" to be akin to staying silent while witnessing an assault. I hate people who will watch me get publicly berated and abused and send me a private message telling me they're on my side because they don't want to get caught in the crossfire. I hate the people who only have my back if no one's looking. I don't understand why they don't realise that there's power in numbers. A swarm of niceness can frighten a troll away. I don't need to be told that people on my side, I need to be shown that is true. Otherwise, thanks for nothing.

But I didn't get into writing in order to not feel alone. I didn't get into writing to connect with people. I didn't even get into writing because I have things to say. I got into it because it's all I can do. It's the only thing I feel I can do fairly well, the only thing I feel allows me go obtain any sort of closure. It was a product of pure love, which is why I never wanted to monetize off of it. But it was easy to do and so I did it and earning money for something that I could do and enjoyed doing made me feel good about myself. So I kept doing it. And I never considered how it would affect the rest of me.

I never considered that the confidence gained from professionally publishing my words would spill over into my being, making me bolder, more upfront and less shy. I didn't consider that the same way positive feedback from my audience makes me feel good, the negative will chip away at me, first unnoticeably and then suddenly in a fury. In retrospect, it seems silly not up have thought of all that, but in my defence, I never even thought I would have anything to say. Writing fluff pieces about movies and celebrities is one thing, but it's another thing to gather the galls to talk about the things that really take up space in my mind: social injustices, intolerance of any sort, shaming, abuse, violence, preventable tragedies. They're the sorts of things that I constantly think about and notice every day and which I cannot resolve to just accept. Which I refuse to just accept because what sort of a human being will I be if I allow myself to be okay with things like that?

I suffer the agony of the unfair world and allow it to darken my mind. I then suddenly resolve to speak out and make my displeasure known which clears my mind and allows me to see some good in myself. Then I hear the harsh words, the unnecessary cruelty, the bullying at the hands of strangers who hide behind the anonymity of their keyboards and my mind drowns in a wave of darkness through which no one taught me to swim. They think they're just individual people getting their frustrations out on another human being, but in actuality what they are doing is adding their individual daggers into the throng of daggers that pierce my heart on a daily basis. Seems ironic that I'm often attacked by the very injustices against which I fight and maybe that should make me fight harder and dirtier, but instead it makes me question everything I do and the value of this life altogether.

Small condolences come from close friends who share advice under good intentions, but which do me little good. "Don't give up," they say, or "Keep fighting the good fight!" and I can't help but feel lonelier than ever because it seems they just don’t get it—out of no fault of their own. And it's times like that when all my unhappy emotions are realised—the ones I'm constantly told not to rely on because they are not my true feelings, but feelings born of a mental illness—that I decide that mental illness or not, these emotions are the truest things I know. This melancholia that comes and goes like the partially-domesticated neighbourhood cat begins to feel like it's the longest lasting companion of my life and I give everything up and take comfort in being sad.

When it's been fed its saucer of milk and has had enough of my company, the sadness leaves as soon as it arrived with nary a warning yet alone a goodbye. And the first thing I want to do when I emerge from this rut is write. It's as if I literally am incapable of doing anything else. The thing that I used to love, which now simultaneous brings me joy and pain, at which I am passably good at best, is the thing I can never escape. So, every time the turmoil of this mad, mean world has run its course, I go back to doing the only thing that makes me feel worthwhile.