Deflating the Ego
I have been writing for the last few hours. Poorly so, I might add. My ego is getting in the way. After going through the Freshly Pressed brouhaha, I’m back to just trying to write. People have been extremely generous in their comments, which makes me think that they like what I write, which makes me think that I have to write more things that people will like.
Welcome to complete and utter paralysis.
Part of this inability to find my authentic voice again is that I’ve been working my way through the blogs of followers and commenters. There is some outstanding writing out there – unique and truly breathtaking voices. I spent two hours writing a post about envy this morning, but was so wrapped up in actual envy, that I couldn’t post it.
What if it’s not good enough? I hit the speed bump of ego and have now veered off course into self-doubt and criticism and competition. When it comes to writing, these are completely useless tools. Which is exactly what I feel like right now: a complete tool.
I cringe when people talk about the fear of success. I don’t fear success. I fear what follows it, when I feel the need to repeat it. My “successes” are miniscule in status and a brief wisp of time, but I’ll take what I can get. It’s enough attention for a lifelong closeted writer, that I long to be as good as I imagine people might actually think I am. Did you hear that? It’s the sound of me choking.
Make your ego porous. Will is of little importance, complaining is nothing, fame is nothing. Openness, patience, receptivity, solitude is everything. Ranier Maria Rilke
There are a few times in my life when my ego got ahead of my skill set. Usually it precipitates in a complete disaster. Every competition I’ve ever been in, I’ve been runner up….to the runner up. I always make it to regional level, get freaking excited and then fall squarely on my face at state. Mediocre success followed by spectacular failure. And none of these failures would have seemed huge, had my ego not set me up for the fall.
Some people are able to stay authentic and genuine throughout the ups and downs of failure and success. I have to drag myself begrudgingly back to the center path of reality and occasionally remind myself of every past failure just to get grounded again. It’s not perhaps the healthiest route back to normal, but it’s effective. I can write from that perspective. I know how to be an underdog.
Even underdogs have ego, though and here’s my point of unassailable pride. I put my faith in this well-known cliché: Get the hell up again. Do it again. Write again. Run again. Play that godawful flute solo again. Do a standup act that makes people clap more when you leave the stage than when you’re on it. Shoot off that premature “I love you” into deafening silence. Put your name in the hat. Raise your hand. Stand up first.
Fail big. Fail spectacularly. Bring failure home to meet your parents. Spoon with failure at night. Chug a couple raw failures in the morning. Failure doesn’t scare me – it’s how I find my voice again.