By Kate Kole
In the past couple years, I’ve gone through a handful of writing slumps. My lengthiest note has often been in the form of a grocery store list. Even journaling, which I’ve loved since I was a child, has been nearly nonexistent.
I’ve wanted to write. I’ve opened blank word documents and stared at the glaring screen as if I could will my inspiration to appear. I’ve listened to podcasts, read books, had deep conversations, walked without distraction, stood still in the silence of the shower. And, nothing.
Luckily, the world isn’t waiting on my next publication and my mortgage payment isn’t contingent upon the words I produce. So, in that sense, my writer’s block hasn’t really been an issue. But in terms of my day to day life, the way I feel, and the way I view myself, it’s been a boulder. Because, writing has become part of who I believe myself to be.
Without putting pen to paper, or fingers to my keyboard, I’ve felt like a piece of myself is missing. And if I’m being honest, I’ve felt a little scared, too. Because it seems that I don’t always know how to get the lost part back.
It isn’t the first time I’ve felt that way. I experienced it when I hung up my soccer cleats after a childhood and adolescence spent chasing a ball. It was there when I left my home in Iowa to move to Texas, and I sensed it once more in moving cross country again. A twinge of that feeling appeared when I walked across the stage at my college graduation, and I felt it another time, when I formally changed my last name to share my husband’s. I was afraid that without having those things, those original parts of myself, to root down, cling to, and to base my identity in, I was no longer me.
I think that for a long time, I wanted who I was to be something that I could neatly define and easily explain. I either hoped it was my birthright, obvious and concrete from the start, or I longed for it be an uncovering of sorts. As if once I had exposure to everything and could try on a million different roles, I’d be able to simply strip away the ones not meant for me and be left with who I truly was.
In my mind I’d become convinced that the things I did added up to create the sum of the person that I am. And that without those things, my life somehow lacked the same value and meaning it once held.
Feeling like I’ve found myself, that confidence in who I’m meant to be and what I’m meant to do, hasn’t boldly arrived and stayed in the way I hoped it would. Instead, it’s come in glimpses. Tiny moments where my heart feels at home. It’s shown up during savasana at the completion of a long, hot yoga class. I’ve heard it in the sound of my son’s voice saying “mama” on repeat. I’ve sensed it at the end of a long writing hiatus, when an idea pops in my head, and I’m scrambling to open a note on my phone quickly enough to bring my thoughts to life.
With the same clarity and unexpectedness that I’ve felt in moments of self-discovery, I’ve just as abruptly sensed the ones that no longer feel like they fit. They’re the perfume I wore in a different season, the relationship that doesn’t flow in the same way it once did, the homesickness at a crowded bar.
Writer’s block, retired shin guards, cross country moves, career changes, and a different last name, here I am. In part, the girl I’ve always been, and in part, the woman who’s learning how it feels to accept, embrace, and roll with the different stages of life.
Maybe it’s not a becoming or an unbecoming after all. Maybe this is just the way it feels to be 32 and still growing up.