The past couple weeks have been filled with the more tangible, grounding things of life, some happy, some heavy, some quite ordinary. Things like work, doctor appointments, family emergencies, rental house browsing, coffee dates, a visit from an old friend. A little busier than usual, and a little less inside my own head, which I don’t mind at all.

I’ve been busy designing new things for the shop lately. It’s nice to have a creative outlet that feels productive and impersonal. I’ve noticed it’s easier to make money doing something you like than something you love, because having only a mild interest in something lets you think clearly and produce results, whereas loving it makes you obsess and overthink and not get anything done. So yes, design work is good. Although I sometimes wonder if I’d be more well rounded if I just had a normal, non-freelance job working at a restaurant or in a fancy hotel. Just something more social, more outside my comfort zone. I guess you always wonder about what you don’t have.

I’ve also been working on a novel-ish thing (it feels weird to call it a novel at this point, when it could still be anything or nothing). Mostly I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing, and getting into the mindset to write about certain things can make me feel crazy sometimes, but it’s still fun. Even when I feel stuck, at least I’m feeling stuck doing the one thing I’ve always wanted to do.

That’s mainly what’s been keeping me busy these days, along with the random events that have been sprinkled throughout the past couple weeks. And while it’s nice to have more than the usual stuff going on, my introverted heart felt the need to check in here, like catching up over coffee. I never want to get too tugged away by the daily grind of life to be still and process things and make art. So I guess that’s what this is.

When did I take this photo, and where did I stand, and what did I feel? I can remember today in all its mundane detail, but this cotton candy sky has already slipped away like all the other memories that felt so tangible, so inherently unforgettable at the time.

And you know they happened because of how often you sift through these stories, turning them over in your mind, searching for remnants of the old beauty to live again. But so little evidence remains. They’ve turned to myth in the intervening years, no longer flesh-and-blood realities but legends you recite to yourself at the hearing of certain melodies or in the no man’s land between wakefulness and sleep. That was real, you think, but your interpretations shift and blur so that you can never be sure how it really happened.

So you fill pages and memory cards and hard drives trying to grasp at these fragments and bottle them, to memorize the feel of breathing in this moment and this one and this one, determined, somehow, to cheat the ocean of time just waiting to smooth over your footprints.

And you cherish the old stories, hazy and dreamlike as they are. They are your only souvenirs.

I’ve always had a terrible fear of sharing what I write — balanced, ironically, by an irrepressible urge to write things and share them. I’d post things on this blog and then immediately want to take them down, afraid of anyone I knew finding my words and judging them for all the same reasons I judged them (too serious, too personal, too wannabe-poetic, too whatever).

I’ve always been like this, too. Once when I was nine, I found an old story I’d written in first grade (on that paper they used to give us with the really spread-out lines for helping you remember how to do your letters. Remember that?). Anyway, my mom walked in the room a few minutes later to find me erasing the entire story, line by line, and correcting the wobbly letters with my much more grown up fourth-grade handwriting. At the time, I couldn’t understand why she was upset. I was fixing it! But I like the mistakes, she said. That’s the point.

So yes, I suppose perfectionism has been a lifelong struggle for me. Putting yourself out there at all is scary, and it’s hard not to immediately correct or erase your efforts when you realize how short they fall.

But there’s an urgency that comes with hitting your mid-20s that makes all your long-held fears seem kinda dumb. You start to realize this is the age when people do things, if they’re ever going to. Do you really want to write? Then you have to get over yourself and do it.

So I made a blogging schedule and treated it like a job. The first few posts were just as nerve-wracking as ever (I was sick with anxiety posting about my pregnancy. Part of me wanted to just never share that news publicly at all). But I made myself leave the posts up and link them on social media. The more I focused on just getting something out the door on schedule, the more comfortable I became with the inevitable imperfection of anything I wrote.

I also got more comfortable with the idea of people reading my weird, deep, clumsily written thoughts. After all, no one judges you as harshly as you do yourself. No one even thinks about you as much as you think about yourself. The fear of “putting yourself out there” is really a problem of being too self-centered, too in your own ego. Instead, think about what you’re trying to say with your work. Who do you hope will enjoy it? What do you hope to accomplish? Focus on that.

So my advice to anyone else in a constant battle with perfectionism / fear of sharing your work is to just do it already. Seriously. You have got to get out of your own way. The more you share, the easier it gets. And the sooner you get over this, the sooner you can actually go about the business of, you know, changing the world and stuff.