Is Anyone Listening?

What lies below is a freeform piece I wrote about eighteen months ago when I was struggling with some mental health stuff and battling with the stress from the beginning of the pandemic. I want to share it now, now that I’m on the other side of it, to show that things can change. I can tell from the self-deprecating, darkly hopeful tone used here that I was hitting an emotional and mental wall at this point in time. Yet today I am happy. Not all the time because that would be unreasonable, but a lot of the time. This is my It Gets Better post. Nothing is permanent, not even pain. 

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04/2020

There’s an episode of The Office where Michael goes out into the woods to reenact the show Survivor Man. He thinks he’s alone, so he’s comfortable shouting out his secrets and innermost thoughts. It’s doofy and played for laughs, but it’s also accurate. What we say when we think we’re alone and unheard is usually very honest. That’s how I feel on here. It’s how I feel on social media. And it’s how I feel when I write my novels. I’m honest and kind of raw because sometimes I feel like I’m not being fucking heard. I’m Michael Scott, in the forest, yelling about my girlfriend’s plastic boobs because no one can hear me. Or worse, because no one gives a shit about what I have to say.

The thing about people is that we’re not afraid of being loved or being hated. We’re afraid of being ignored. It’s why there’s so many anonymous online trolls, people who spew hate or poke the bear to get a reaction even if it means they’ll lose an eye or a hand. They are afraid because they’re lonely, stupid, or broken in some way, and they feel lost and rejected in real life. So online they must shout to be heard. And if they shout nasty things and get nasty things back, well, at least they know they haven’t disappeared, right?

That’s how I feel sometimes. Like I am just talking into the void and the void is happily absorbing my words before they can hit any ears. And that’s the reality you have to live with when you’re not special. The truth is that I’m probably not the Main Character. I’m not doing anything in a new way, changing the world, or saying anything groundbreaking. And I’m not saying that as a pity-party thing; it’s just an objectively honest observation. So why should the void listen to me? Everyone must ask themselves that question. They must convince the void to acknowledge them instead of consuming them. They must build layers of themselves and stack them up until they truly believe what they are saying and doing is unique and all-important.

I just can’t seem to convince myself, or the void, that I’m worth it. I could keep pushing myself, force the void to listen. But would it? I can be loud, but I feel quiet. I say things and they disappear into the ether like they were never even spoken to begin with. They don’t matter, because I don’t matter. Not in a doom-and-gloom kind of way, just in a realistic way. What makes someone stand out? How do you keep from dissolving into the masses of people who look, sound, act, and write JUST like you? How do you keep from turning invisible entirely?

And why does it matter?

At the end of the day, why should I commit pointless hubris in order to convince people, society, the world, that I am special? I’m just an ordinary person. I like rock climbing, I’m in recovery, I love animals and traveling, I’m queer and battling mental illnesses, and I’m a writer because I can’t fucking STOP writing. And there’s someone else out there who is exactly like me. But there’s ALSO someone out there who’s like me, but missing one piece of the puzzle. Maybe they’re not in recovery yet and they need to stumble upon these words. Maybe they’re not a writer and they need to see it spelled out in the way they’ve always thought but couldn’t express.

I don’t know.

I just know I want to get my words out there. Even if the void swallows them whole. All I can do is try. And hey, maybe it turns out I wasn’t alone and ignored. Maybe it turns out a cameraman and Dwight Shrute are crouching in the bushes, spying on me and listening to every word I shout.

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