featurebanner_amberopedAMBER LOVE 03-MAR-2014 I had no intention at all of derailing my website from modeling, writing and podcasting to blogging about the extremely intimate details of my life. I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook (and the rest) due their complex and ever-changing copyright and privacy policies. My intention had always been to write here on the website I own fully and then link to the post on the networks. Then stuff comes up like Facebook not actually showing your followers posts anyway and it leaves me more frustrated than I care to deal with sometimes. I want people to like me. I want them to like my work. I’m not a “professional” writer in that I don’t collect my paycheck for telling you about the books I loved or why I think insurance is legal racketeering. However, I follow the philosophy: I write, therefore I’m a writer.

Back in what feels like a previous life, I was employed in crossover departments for a Fortune 500 company where I worked in clerical, database management, software development and project management. I did all that just shy of five years when they laid me off. One of the greatest moments from those days when I actually had ambition was when the company was in serious trouble. I boarded the company train and couldn’t wait to contribute to save us from the brink of oblivion. I would be the dark horse hero no one heard of. They brought in a new CEO, a short Texas cowboy that could not relate at all to us high-strung New Jersey types. He made everyone study a knock-off of the Six Sigma training. Do you know Six Sigma? If you watch 30 ROCK you’ve at least heard of it because Jack took Liz to one of the gatherings where she was completely out of her element. It’s a way to study every single process and make it more efficient. In other words, we were improving our way right out of jobs.

We were given assignments. We weren’t “forced” to do them only “highly encouraged.” Since I wanted to look like a team player and dedicated corporate drone, I tried to fulfill all the recommended things someone at my peon level was allowed to do. I kept asking to get into the corporate training for project management certification but didn’t know that I was about to laid off so there was no way they had any interest in investing in my education. One thing I was allowed to do was read the tiny little hardcover “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson, M.D. I had low expectations because my department’s director loved it – I’ve always caught myself doing that thing where you want to hate something because someone you don’t like very much lauds it. To my surprise, I really loved that little book. Each chapter is a parable about moving through life and careers. Honestly there’s only one part of it that I remember with clarity and that was the chapter that asked the reader, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

I don’t have any of that ambition anymore. It died perhaps of natural causes or perhaps unnatural through the years of antidepressants, depression and suicide attempts. I don’t care one bit about getting ahead. All I want is to be reasonably comfortable and I admit I want to feel satisfied with my life.

I have watched my friends and peers in comic creating, modeling, novel publishing and even blogging speed past me at what feels like Mach 3. To them, it’s probably painstakingly slow. One of my favorite projects to date might not actually be seen until 2015, three years from inception. Other projects never seem to come out at all despite word from editors emphatically promising that pitches are being reviewed by publishers. I’ve talked enthusiastically with other creators about how we would love to work together which always ends in “jot down your notes and get back to me” but never does. This is common and it’s what my writing life is like since it’s only something I do on the side as many of my peers do also.

Unlike other people, I do not look at every obstacle as a lame excuse. In fact I really hate when people accuse others of making excuses for not getting on with a project. Maybe it’s writing a novel or maybe losing weight or maybe finding a new job. You don’t know what another person is feeling, dealing with in life, or whether they have the ability to succeed. You don’t know their battles unless they tell you. Those things are not “excuses;” those things are obstacles and I hate when obstacles like mental illness get in my way.

amber-me-2014-whiteI began writing this post when I arrived at my day job a half an hour early. Every once in a while, I’d get back to it and write out a sentence or two. Then our new CEO walked by and said I was next up for a one-on-one meetings which he’s saying is to get to know everyone in the company. I’m the second to lowest person in the entire organization and I have to meet with this man that already implemented changes his first week that pissed people off: removing practices that made this one of the places people wanted to work for decades of their lives. He came in and metaphorically began pissing on things to mark his territory which he did with a smile. He’s actually the type of ultra high strung person I thought I’d be some day when I was in college and dreamed of being a news producer or on air talent like Murphy Brown or Mary Tyler Moore. Every day, he’s on a headset, pacing his office, never slowing down. I have watched and now with my much slower life and zero ambition, I look at this person and think he’s got to be on Adderall or something because no one could really be that wound up. That’s flat out facetious and I know it. People are different therefore energy levels and motivations for success are going to be different. That could be the kind of person he wants to be and maybe he’s completely organic in how he achieves that. I really don’t know and I honestly don’t care. All I do know is that it’s not me and will never be me again.

I started this day elated that the forecast for a foot of snow was so inaccurate that we got absolutely zero inches. This winter has devastated my nerves and anxiety. I spent all weekend worried that this next blizzard was coming and I’d miss yet another day of work. I got in early from the miraculous lack of traffic that usually makes Monday morning an aggravating thing to face. In other words, I was mildly okay as far as analyzing where my stress level was at the moment. Then I was asked to have this meeting with the CEO. After he asked me to join him after his lunch, he walked through the door and I was alone at my desk. That’s when I noticed my arms and hands shaking and my eyes welling up with tears. These are reflexes. They are responses that I cannot control. The panic grew as I worried that I’d fall apart the second I sat down in his office. I waited about thirty minutes until he was ready. First I answered his questions about my background and where I see myself at the company. He took notes on the things that are in my past but not when I talked about things here that I’m interested in. Then it was my turn to bring concerns to him. I went over two things: the first was something extremely important to me but only affects me not the whole company. Needless to say, I got what I expected: absolutely nothing.

During that thirty minute wait, I was frozen by fear. I clicked around Twitter and Facebook. I took the time to tell a couple friends what was going on and how scared I was. But when I looked at this open document of my drafted blog post I couldn’t write another thing which was ironic considering being too afraid to do anything was the subject of the post. I had already referenced the quote, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” and found myself stuck in that very position again as I do often.

Fear is in my way.

It’s in my way when I pack my gym clothes but can’t bring myself to enter the building and attend a class.

It’s in my way when I want to text someone that I love them.

It’s in my way when I want to send my scripts to artists.

It’s in my way when I want to consider running a Kickstarter to publish my comic.

I don’t know how to bring myself to committing to something like making a 65-page graphic novel through a stressful Kickstarter campaign when I get disappointed every morning that I woke up. I don’t want to take my money and enroll in the next comics workshop when it’s five or six weeks long and I don’t want to think about being here on the planet living one more week. These are all things that other people get over or can’t even imagine; they want to make a book, they go make the book. I look at my friends running Kickstarter campaigns and getting published by wonderful places like IDW, Action Lab and Vertigo. My accomplishment was writing out a list of instructions for my mother to follow in the event of my death which included who to send my files to because maybe, just maybe, that person would see that my stories get out there.

The one time I said fuck you to fear, I left my stable home, my marriage, my comfort zone of New Jersey and headed out to Pittsburgh for a year of utter failure. Getting over fear did not help me.

19 comments on “Fear. It’s in my way.”

  1. I never know what to say when you post things like this because it sums up so perfectly how I feel in my life. That feeling of fear that makes you trapped in a place in your life that you do not want to be in. Watching all your ambitions shrink down to just wanting to not be so miserable and afraid all the time. I want to say something meaningful and supportive but I do not have the words. If I did, I’d tell them to myself everyday. I know you find comments like “it will get better” as empty as I do. I’ll just say that despite the fact that we have never met and I do not know you personally, I love you as a kindred soul and I hope that you find that satisfaction that you want in your life.

  2. I know how it feels to be shaken and paralyzed by fear. And I convince myself that if I can move past the fear to do one thing, then I can get over it and move past the barricade. But it doesn’t work out that way. It’s frustrating and seems to get worse as I get older.

    I don’t comment or speak up too much, but know that you’re not alone and, for what it’s worth, you have my support.

    • I’m sorry you suffer with it too, Badger. It blows. And showing there are others is one of the reasons I’ve taken to writing more about it.

  3. I really want to post something supportive but the words elude me. All I can think of are the hollow platitudes you’ve heard time and time again. But know that you are both loved and respected for who you are and being brave enough to type these feelings out.

  4. I totally get you….i got fears and anxieties out the ass…my house got broke into along time ago…so I am now paranoid about it being locked up tight and shit…I lost my Dad almost 10 yrs ago…and now hate to be alone and let those I care out of my sight so to speak…fear paralyzes…and no matter how many drugs we take for depression or whatever it is still there. I think conquering fear is one of the hardest things in the world…most of the time if I do…it is with anger and that is worse. BUT…I do think that sometimes ya just gotta step out and do stuff….even if you fail…at least you tried…and that is HOPE…and where there is hope, there is life….maybe not what we want or expected…but a life to live as we see fit…and damn those who do not like the way we live it.

  5. I know exactly how you feel regarding the death of ambition. I’ve got a million and one things I’d like to do, but none that I feel driven to do. I feel like I’m a dabbler at everything I try.

    I wrestle with fears a lot too. I’m part of a 12-step fellowship, and I’m afraid to even reach out to others in that group because making phone calls to someone I don’t know well scares me some. (It’s nuts that it scares me… I’ll share with them about most anything in person.)

    But for all of it, I’m stuck in a crap job that I’m horribly overqualified for (sounds familiar, right?) partly because I’m scared and partly because I’m just too comfortable with things as they are now.

    • Thanks for sharing, Jason. I know what you mean. I can about my feelings. I can tell strangers or twitter but when someone close asks, I feel like a burden.

      Amber

  6. This. So much of this.

    I hated that book, possibly in part because of its simplification of things that, to me, never felt simple.

    All those maxims that people say and perhaps fully mean, but sound like horseshit because I can’t fathom a universe in which it works.

    If you just smile, you’ll be happier.
    (Really? Because the antidepressants caused severe itching. Who knew it was just smiling I needed to do!)

    Fear is just an excuse.
    (Well, in that case, I know a place you can wrestle alligators. What? Lessons? You don’t need lessons. Just smile and let go of the fear. It’s just an excuse.)

    Writers write. That’s all there is to it.
    (Yeah, that sounds easy from non-depressed land. Kind of like getting out of bed and taking a shower sounds easy to people who’ve never experienced depression. It’s possible that staring at the crushing weight of failure on the blank page is a little much after putting in all that effort with the shower.)

    You have to have positive thoughts.
    (I’m positive that phrase makes me stabby. How’s that?)

    • You nailed it, Neliza. One of my “favorites” is the bullshit philosophy “happiness is a choice.” Really? Because I choose to wake up feeling worthless, alienated, & marginalized? Uh…. bite me. I hate that people believe wholeheartedly in The Secret about wish fulfillment. Do they really believe kids can wish away their cancer, muscular dystrophy or learning disabilities? Can anyone? I love the power of positive thinking in its role to make people feel more calm and grounded but it does not cure.

  7. I always enjoy your writing, Amber… it always rings true. Like the others, I have no platitudes to serve up, as I deal with some of the same things in my life (being “drug resistant” is not helpful). Thank you for sharing; for what it’s worth, I think it took courage.

    • Always good to hear from you. Somehow all of have to find out what works. It’s so individual and that’s why the drug pushers and FDA drive me bonkers acting like it’s easy to address.

  8. Fear sucks. It can really cripple you. The idea is to act while you stare it down and take control. I know it keeps me from writing.

    No more

    • Staring it down and writing or creating in any way is something I’ve never mastered. That’s great if you figured it out!

  9. Like everyone else, I want to express my support for you, but I don’t know how in words you haven’t heard before. I guess what I can say is that what you write about, your artwork, and everything else has made a positive impact on a complete stranger. I know we don’t know each other, but I do hope things turn around for you. Even if my own fears and doubts don’t allow me to wish happiness for myself, I do wish it for everyone else.

    • Thanks, Matthew. I’m sure strangers have no idea how brave they are by writing in and saying they go through similar experiences. I never thought people would actually read my words no less that I would be helpful or encouraging. That’s wonderful that you see all of this in such a positive way.

      Amber

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