“I will get there, one way or another, even if it is the last thing I fucking do.” I spat the words into the phone. I recoiled a bit when I heard them resonate with what was probably too much force, but how was I supposed to tame the pointed passion that had just been renewed? How was I supposed to temper the ferocious confidence I’d only just uncovered? The confidence whose power was exponentially related to that of the crippling, incapacitating bipolar depression and anxiety I’d just suffered through, for the third time this year…the confidence I’d suddenly realized I deserved to have…the confidence I had absolutely no intention of losing ever ever ever again. But I thought of my friend and coworker and surrogate mother on the other end of the phone line and softened just a little. “I just mean that I refuse to settle.”
It’s not that she didn’t believe in the unlimited potential that’s dormant within me, becoming ever more pressurized, waiting until the perfect moment to erupt in volcanic glory, changing my life the way hot magma changes the earth itself. It’s not that she didn’t believe in what I’m capable of achieving. It’s just that she didn’t understand the full scope of the image I have for my future. Which, apparently, is clearer and more vivid than I thought it was.
“I’m a writer. So I’m going to write. It’s as simple as that. I’m going to write my stories and essays and memoirs and novels, I’m going to publish it all, I’m going to get paid in doing so, and I’m going to be happy with all of that. I won’t have a boss and I won’t work in an office, so it doesn’t matter if I’m covered in tattoos or have blue hair or curse on social media.” I took a breath, my mind suddenly lit up with visions of a future that mere days earlier I couldn’t dream up if I tried with all my might. “I refuse to settle.”
“Yes, pumpkin, but you still need to make money now, you still need to go through what everyone else has has to go through, you still have to—”
“Do I? Do I really?” I toned down the intensity because in the heat of the moment, my words were precariously close to sounding venomous as opposed to determined. Still, I struggled to get my point across. Maybe we were just talking about two different things. “I don’t want to work for someone who doesn’t like my hair. And if someone won’t hire me because of what I choose to do with my body, how I choose to express myself, fuck them. As for the cursing, I’m smart enough to know what’s appropriate and when. I’m smart enough to know my worth.”
Truthfully, the matter of my own worth had been quite warped in my mind only a day and a half prior to the phone conversation. Gotta hand it to my mental illness for sucking every particle of light, every last photon, into the abysmal black hole completely devoid of hope. It’s actually fascinating, what mental illness can do, so long as you’re not the one it’s doing it to. If you are the unlucky one being fucked by it, you’ll know how the concept of my worth was being tampered with. You’ll also understand how, having punched through the black vacuum of nothingness to make it a wormhole, I cannot and will not let go of my inherent value again.
I heard my friend answer as I paced around my room, and I continued talking with her as the conversation progressed. My mind, however, had been fixated on the same thing for more than a few moments: I have a choice, I am not stuck, I have a choice, I can do anything I want to do.
When we hung up the phone, I reflected on what we’d talked about. I was vaguely annoyed, but knew to take the suggestions with a grain of salt. The difference in opinion was probably largely a generational thing; I know tons of other people around my age who chose to forge their own paths instead of being beaten down by societal norms and expectations. And even though I’m not quite at a point where I can forge, well, anything…my plan is to eventually do just that.
I’ve never been good at getting from A go B. I blamed myself for a long time. I thought I was lazy or unmotivated or stupid, or all of the above. In retrospect, getting down on myself was never a good idea (obviously). And I’m now cutting myself some slack because it isn’t shortcomings making this shit hard for me, it’s the debilitating chronic incurable mental illness that we’re still figuring out how to treat. And I know not to place all the blame on THAT either, so I do take some responsibility.
It’s just annoying because I have potential, so much of it, but I truly cannot access it at the moment. Imagine my unbelievable frustration. Seriously, think about that. So how do I reconcile my current self with the one I know with assurance beyond measure I will be one day in the future? Like I said, I don’t plan on losing this feverish determination or the knowledge that I’ll kick ass one day or the clear-as-day vision of my successful future. I still have tons of shit to figure out. I’ll get there on my own time in my own way, though.
I’m going to face obstacles, both soon and in the more distant future. But I’ll get the fuck around them. That’s part of who I am, isn’t it? I am forever picking myself up, dusting myself off, and starting again. I have no choice. The cycle is literally imprinted on my genes. Which by default means that so is resilience. Not to mention the whole creativity being inextricably linked to those of us who are mentally ill. If I can’t go through the obstacles I’ll go over them, if I can’t go over them I’ll tunnel underneath them, and if that doesn’t work? I’m creative. I’ll find a way. Even if it is the last thing I fucking do.