All the ways I'm afraid to die

Jul 2, 2021

Car crash. Alien invasion. Earthquake. Asteroid. Yellowstone blowing up. North Korea declaring nuclear war. Slipping in the shower. Crash landing in an airplane. An airplane crashing into my home. Cancer. The random guy sitting across from me on the bus. Falling into a body of water while leaning too far over the edge. Eating undercooked chicken. Random drive-by shootings. Getting robbed on the highway while travelling in a different country. The floor suddenly collapsing before me. A pulmonary embolism. COVID-19. Etc, etc, etc…

There are a lot of ways that I’m afraid to die but it all boils down to one essential reason: I do not want to die unaccomplished.

Despite this feeling of time counting down to the inevitable, I make very little changes that could result in me becoming accomplished. My brain knows that I’m just wasting time but, being the perfectionist I am, my brain also becomes paralyzed at the immense pressure I put myself under.

“Do something great. Create as much as you can. Express yourself. Leave a mark on the world. Justify your existence.”

As I get older, I think about this more and more. This may or may not coincide with the constant questions and expectations regarding motherhood. It makes me wonder why my parents had me. What did they want from having a child? They told me, in more or less words but I can’t say I fully comprehend it. All my life, my parents have just wanted me to be successful. And, well, I did it. I finished high school. Graduated with a degree. Got a good paying job. Now, I am “successful.”

But that isn’t what success is to me.

My father recently told me how proud of me he was. I tried my hardest not to cry because I couldn’t see what there was to be proud of. I felt like Billy Pilfrim in Slaughterhouse-Five, ashamed of facing his mother, who valued his life more than he did.

What do I want from my life? What is accomplished, to me? I picture the ideas my mind being spilled out into filled sketchbooks, notebooks stuffed with words, easels leaning against the walls, and homemade mittens draped over a chair. And although the idea of never achieving this fills me with dread, I find it hard to pick up the paintbrush, the pen, or the knitting needles and hope for death to spare me another day.

I really thought about ending this there for the dramatic effect but it felt too bleak. I’ve being trying to reignite my love for all things creative by attempting to write and draw everyday. Some days I don’t. There are stretches of when I don’t do anything at all. It’s frustrating because the things I envision in my head don’t translate to what comes out of my fingertips. The classic case of taste being overshadowed by skill.

A book I was reading, This Woman’s Work by Julie Delporte, addressed some of the points I made above. Delporte expresses her frustration of how being a female artist seemed to be incompatible with how society viewed women. In the end of the book, she paints a picture of the ideal life: women who are free to create the artist works that they want and without being remembered for the lovers they have had or being burdened with childbirth.

One possible reason why I don’t desire having children (other than the ethical questions of bringing a child into such a world) is because it feels like I would have to let go of a dream that I am struggling to fulfill and a dream that I fear that I would never fulfill at that.

But, I’m still trying. I feel like I could try harder but above all, I want to be kind to myself.

Category: life
Tags: #100DaysToOffload