I paused with guilt this week.
Romance Ended, Procrastination, Pseudonym, IKEA Words
Pausing is Progress
This newsletter I'm pausing: to feel guilt and shame. It speaks loudly and often. I feel it after I text women overly detailed messages, I feel it after I eat Chipotle again, and I do my very best to *avoid* feeling it in yoga class by controlling the passing of gas from the digestive system.
Guilt disconnects me from the people in my life. The should’ves amplify and I judge my decided actions. I hide my face behind objects. When I notice that, I pause with it. I see this feeling and these thoughts as confused. They don’t actually want to disconnect. They want to reconnect.
I write you to reconnect. It’s been 5 months since I wrote. I'm sad I've isolated myself from this community of newsletterers. I read many of yours and they inspire me. I want to participate and play, and I’m sorry for abandoning this game of ours.
Today's roll call:
I went on a date and a second date and then she ended it.
So Saturday I went on a date, it went well, and actually we kissed. I like kissing.
Yesterday, she asked for a phone call, I didn't think much of it, we did have a good date after all. She even led with that fact. It was a lovely night, she said or something something. ... "But we are better off being friends."
I'm not heartbroken, just heartchipped. I agree with her, we are better off, we share a friend group and it's best not to complicate things at this moment, but sucks.
I don’t appreciate how soft I am. I knew this wasn’t going to work and yet I’ve been sad for 24 hours. I feel like a boy fussing about because his happy meal didn’t come with a toy that he would’ve just thrown on the floor. Lots of self-hatred too which has been surprising. You’re old and never going to find your partner, Women don’t like skinny men, Look at you trying so hard. Oof.
The self-hatred I’ve released firmly with my fist into a pillow. The sadness I’m living with.
Procrastination is a 15 letter word that in understanding made me want to write this newsletter.
This newsletter has to be perfect, I think. Ah, F IT, I’m just going to ship something and move on. But wait…
A few tools by Joe Hudson have been in dialogue in my mind.
I should send a newsletter!
"I should do X" "I need do Y" "I want to do Z" -- all of these are an impulse to a behavior that wants to move. 'I should go to the gym' is an impulse for bodily movement. Instead of rising up and to do ten jumping jacks, we plan. I gotta change, I'm going to be in public so I gotta do my hair, I will surely have to stay at the gym for a full workout, oh I want to text my trainer friend for an updated workout plan, on and on and on I spin.
But I procrastinate writing this newsletter.
Procrastination is often to avoid the stress of self-judgment. Other times we procrastinate simply to give yourself a break from a constant stream of shame for not doing something the right way. Most of my nights, I end the day with something mindless. I need a break from my own mind. I don’t like feeling judged and shamed.
When I try to perfect this newsletter, I feel shame for spending so much time and constantly trying to get it right. When I just ship it to ship it, I feel guilt for doing a poor job, and not respecting your attention space.
I learned from Joe that the trick is not to just do it, but to just do it without shame or judgement.
How can I just do this newsletter without shame? I intentionally want this to be bad by my standards. I don’t want to spend more than 3 hours on it. Still, I want it to have structure, be skimmable, and be on topics I genuinely care about.
During if I feel shame during, I’m trying to get it right. Afterwards if I feel guilt, I did a bad job of writing something shitty.
This strategy can be implemented with any desire, need, should. This confronts the voices in our head. Our actions begin to compound. In this iteration, we create freedom to make mistakes, write poorly, and in the aftermath feel what it's like to be ourselves again, free from guilt.
Only half my name is now a lie.
Good news: my first name is now Andrew which is my real name
Bad news: my last name is Plainview which is still a crumby lie.
I changed my name from Arthur Plainview to Andrew Plainview.
Here's what've learned --
Pseudonyms are the best way to find your voice as a writer. You write without consequences which means you can play with language and topics without having anyone else’s voice whispering in your head. BUT that’s not vulnerable writing. Vulnerable writing is saying something despite any potential consequences. Under your own name, you are most tender and naked to the world. That’s where I want to get. So the change from full to half is my first step.
Someday when my voice is strong enough and I’m brave enough, I’ll write under my real name.
Side note: writing without consequences is the core problem of the internet. How much of the dialogue would change if every time we wanted to give our opinion to the world, we’d risk being hit with lettuce.
IKEA Words are prefabricated phrases.
*warning, you'll have a new sensitivity to writing after writing this essay. Writing will be painful for awhile. Thank goodness, it will be painful.*
I wrote an essay with the writing studio. It was a laborious piece of writing.
Having gone through this experience, my writing forever changed. I write quicker now. I write less edits now. My writing, my language, builds upon each other more than ever. All from understanding IKEA Words.
I like the description by Michael Dean in Write of Passage’s newsletter —
We’re all guilty of using cheap language. Like IKEA furniture, it’s convenient. It’s quick, it works in a variety of situations, and everyone (kind of) knows what you mean. IKEA words are everywhere. However, once you notice them, you can’t unsee them. It’s quite possible that after you read this edition, you’ll find yourself in an existential crisis. “Am I a slang parrot?”
Don’t be too hard on yourself! You don’t have to sing in golden prose when you order breakfast at a diner. But when it comes to writing our essays, we want to be very intentional with our word choice. It doesn’t matter if we have Nobel-Prize-grade-ideas, if we render them through IKEA words, they’ll feel stale and below their potential. Fortunately when we write, our thinking is frozen on the page. We can investigate our words and imagine better alternatives. The power of text! The power of editing!
Nicolas Gomez Davila, a Colombian philosopher, distills this perfectly: “Words are the true adventures of the authentic writer.”
P.S.1 Backlogged on ideas? Copy and paste the entire block of ideas into an essay and hit publish. This is how Lil Wayne did it. He had journals full of lyrics and he wanted a fresh start. He recorded a 35 min song of him rapping 10,000 bars.
P.S.2 I published an atomic essay about my coaching session with Joe.
P.S.3 I started yoga teacher training a few weeks ago to deepen my practice. It has taught me to hold a La Croix can with my entire palm and fingers grounded against the tin. No raised pinky
Just me excited to be back with ya’ll —
* New readers, hi. I promise you if you subscribe, you’ll see more smiles and waves. *