Reading: A Chinese Life – Li Kunwu
Listening: Daft Punk – Face to Face (Uppermost Remix)
Watching: Korra Season 3
Playing: To The Moon
After a series of happy days, I had a glum day. I had a glum day for a number of reasons, but the main trigger for my evening funk was probably the discovery that I did not win a writing competition.
I’ve not entered many writing competitions in my life. In fact, this was the only competition I’ve entered this year, and it was only after a friend suggested it to me. But for some reason I had a strange sense of exhilaration about the piece I submitted. I knew it was probably a false hope, but I felt magical and optimistic about my chances nevertheless. I submitted my story to a national medical journal, and expected to hear a good result.
I was surprised by how much it affected me to open that email and read: “…unfortunately, your story was not chosen by our judges as a winner…however, we do want to thank you for sharing your ideas with us and wish you better luck next year…”
I went home and tried to figure out why I was so upset. It wasn’t too hard to figure out. Obviously, I ground a significant part of my identity in the belief that I can write. It’s a lifelong passion of mine, and something that I nurture and keep very close to my heart. I spend time and effort on writing (more so in the past than lately…). And I think of myself as someone who writes. Without writing, a large portion of my self-identity vanishes.
But I realised then that perhaps I shouldn’t be doing this. Yes, writing is an activity that is uniquely personal. It’s one where you rely on your gut and your heart. But need to separate my skill as a writer—and other people’s judgement of that skill—from my sense of self-worth.
That got me musing about what else I derive identity from—and what I should be deriving it from. Most of the things we build ourselves on are impermanent, or unstable. Many of us base our identities on looks, sporting prowess, approval from others/social skills, intellect, or qualifications. Many of us base our identities on a relationship. Some of us base our identities on personal qualities–maybe we see ourselves as charitable, or kind, or assertive, or empathetic.
Almost everything in this world is unpredictable and not entirely under our control. Maybe I just need to be more aware of that, and of the things that I am dependent upon. Because in order to have a fulfilling life, I will need to trust my own skills and trust the relationships I have with other people. I just need to make sure I choose the right things, and the right people, to place my trust in :)
I woke up today pretty much feeling fine about not winning the competition, so maybe rejection isn’t so bad after all, heh. I’m not going to win any competitions if I don’t start entering dozens upon dozens of them.
Speaking of writing competitions, I only have one week left of work before I embark on my six months of unemployment and relative poverty!!! It’s come upon me so quickly in the midst of applications and interviews that I’m starting to mildly freak out. People are giving me surprised looks when I tell them I will be essentially unemployed, and generally ask, “But won’t you be bored?!”
Will I? I don’t think I’ll be. When do I get bored? I get bored during reality TV shows; when radio hosts run competitions to win small sums of money; when the conversation is all about work; when I’m waiting in traffic/at the bank/at the doctor’s. But I don’t think I’m someone who gets bored easily. There’s just so much to do, to read, to see, to watch, to eat, to learn!
So tonight I’m drawing up a battle plan for the next few months. So I don’t slip up or procrastinate. This is a once in a lifetime chance, to try out being a full-time writer for six months. Here’s hoping it goes well.