I loose myself in the internet. It is my addiction; I use it to escape the moment. Sometimes I fight against this tool of modernity by detoxing, banning myself from the internet. The thing is that mostly my escape into the computer is an escape from my own relentless banter and feelings in inadequacy. I have realized that my internet procrastinating is directly related to my battle with labels.
So, I’ve been talking about shedding labels. Not too easy. One can’t just say, okay, no labels, and then just walk away free. Some labels fall easily to the wayside, but some are attached to me like a third arm. How can I not be a writer? I had hoped to have finally found my “true” calling.
I attributed my grade school teachers’ compliments about my essays to being a nerd, not a writer. It wasn’t until I was in college and having instructors rave about my essays that I thought, “Hey, I have a knack for writing and I happen to love doing it,” before going on with my life. A few years later, I spun music for the local college radio station and someone called me out of the blue and said he liked my show and would I consider writing an indie rock column for his magazine. I wrote him an album review as a sample and he hired me. Soon enough I was dubbed “writer.” I didn’t choose it, it just happened. When I look back over time, it was me, doing the things that made me feel alive, saying yes, that transformed me into a writer, not me carrying out my duty to create. But, now it’s been years since I wrote a column and have had little published since then, nothing for the last nearly two years. I have written no books and I have no ideas. Don’t you have to write to be a writer? If I am not a writer what am I?
Some of my labels were easy to shed, but those ones have little affect on my life. Letting go of the writer label is perhaps the most difficult and the most freeing. I subject myself to so much duty. Duty turns love into drudgery. When I don’t perform, I call myself a hack. When I wake up, and my daughter is still asleep, that is my time to create, so I create because it’s my duty. I obligate myself to create. But this kind of create is so muted and twisted and my obligation to fulfill the writer label, or the _fill in the blank_ has got me burying my head in facebook and watching the world collapse on youtube. I don’t want to have to write anymore. I want to write if inspired. I want to write for love. I want to write because I was moved to.
If I am not a writer, I have permission not to write.
Oh, and then there is the activist. I feel I have to be part of the Occupy movement. All the activists are, unless they have something even cooler going on. Well, I have been trying to figure out what it even means to be an activist for a while, so maybe I really do just need to let it rest for a while. If I’m not an activist, I don’t need to worry about defining it. I don’t have to feel like a hack if I stay home from the big meeting. There is this small part of me that wants to still be able to say I am part of some “activist community,” but I don’t have the energy to prove it to anyone, not even myself. Anyway, a lot of those people are just a bunch of cocky, self-righteous, know-it-alls (I don’t really mean it, but it feels good to say).
I have, in some ways, become dependent on labels to define me, give me direction, but labels can easily turn against you. I have too many. I take them too seriously – I don’t want to be one of those fake artists that my mother taught me to loathe. So I shed them; I am trying to shed them all. When I wake up in the morning, I don’t have to absorb myself in internet - email, craft ideas, news, social media - to avoid myself and my constant banter insisting I should be doing…. Just for now, I don’t have to be anybody. I can be a nobody. I am deprogramming.
Not to mention that deprogramming comes with its own scary world. My program and my identity protects me from becoming someone I don’t want to be, acquiring those bad label. What if I am not part of the revolution? What if I am boring? What if I want money? What if I want luxury and a lot of money!? What if I join a religion and a church? What if I sit around and watch cable TV all day? What if I become conservative? I can be scared of those things but I can’t stay the same and I don’t want to live the rest of my life trying to fulfill hollow labels.
I want to shed this anxiety that tells me I deserve my horrible fate if I ignore the all-encompassing mantra of work, duty, progress. I just want to feel what it is like to be my raw nobody self.