John Green, Inadequacy, and My Future


I feel a dramatic sense of inadequacy. Nothing has made that more clear than the events of the past two days.

You see, I want to do great and important things with my life. Is that too much to ask?

I mean, really.

All I want to do is grow up, do something important, and have people recognize that. It would be nice to have people appreciate whatever it is I do. It would be nice to know something I did actually had a deep, lasting, and profound effect. I want something I do to affect peoples’ lives in some deep, mysterious way that only they understand. Because of something I did. Something I wrote. Something I made. A story I told. Characters I made up.

Anything.

You get to make an intensely profound and personal connection with a piece of art when it makes you feel like it just validated your existence. Even just a little bit, in some little way.

03 - tfios cover copyOne of the things that has done that for me is John Green’s book, The Fault in Our Stars.

I think I might actually be the only human being literally ever that did not cry a single time over the course of its 313 pages.

I did not once find it a sad book. Not like everyone else. Not at all.

I personally found it to be an incredibly joyful tale about not becoming a victim when life gives you problems after struggles after pain.

Those first thirty, forty pages? Where Hazel is being nothing but bitter and sarcastic and cutting with the darkest, blackest sense-of-humour?

Wait! That’s what I do! That’s what happens to me when life kicks me down some stairs!

That’s how I process things and turn pain into something a bit more tolerable.

Few other times in my life have I felt something that is such an intrinsic part of my existence validated by a character in a story that somebody else wrote. Nothing I have ever read has so accurately described how I deal with the stuff when the stuff meets the fan. Ever.

I acknowledge it. I don’t dismiss it. I know it’s there, but I don’t let it get me down.

Neither does Hazel.

But how does this relate to how I feel horribly ill-equipped an unable to accomplish literally anything I feel like my life has been created to do?

It does. Bear with me for a few more paragraphs.

Could you do that please? Thanks! :)

It’s a bizarre position to be in when you know you have been gifted with a great many talents, but simultaneously feel like absolutely nobody knows what to do with them.

(Literally any of them. Occasionally including myself.)

I mean… I’m very good friends with words. We’ve had a steady relationship that goes back quite a long time. More than a decade at this point, even. I love words to pieces. I can and will also readily admit I didn’t even know what in the world I was doing those first few years. I sucked hard.

But I learned. I learned and got good at them. They gave me the opportunity because words never left me. I just got used to using them in more interesting combinations, preferably so they sound cool together.

Like Batman and America. And Justice.

But when all you want to DO is words, going into your seventh year of working customer service jobs with no one willing to invest in you is, well, quite an awful lot disheartening. I get discouraged easily and have a very difficult time keeping perspective. Especially when perspective is sometimes all I have.

03 - ISIFD

But I can see the future.

I can taste it.

(It tastes effing good, by the way.)

But how the hell do I persevere until slaving away at my keyboard pays off and I get paid to keep slaving away at my keyboard?

Should I give up? I don’t think so. God’s got me on this earth for a couple of reasons and one of them is to keep writing words. To inspire. To encourage.

To entertain.

Big, lofty goals when it feels like half the people you know are more talented than you and get more opportunities and all your problems would be easily solved if you just lived any number of other places.

Had one of those moments the other day. It’s weird being that happy and that jealous at the same time. Haha.

Few other times in my life have I ever felt more motivated to sit at my computer and grind out more text than ever before to one day complete the grandpappy of all stories that may end up being the single defining creative achievement of my life. However, it wasn’t to be.

A few minutes later, I had to shut down my computer and go to work in a confused haze of unrealized creative energy. The kind of energy you may only get a few times a year when you enter the zone and can do, breathe, think, and bleed nothing but the glory of the project in front of you that you will simultaneously wield and proceed to beat into merciless submission.

… And you can’t do anything about it. Because you’re not getting paid to do it.

Yet.

And what a glorious day it shall be.

But seriously, Chris. What on earth does this have to do with John Green?

Alright. You waited. I deliver.

03 - john green copy

Just before I began writing this, I read Margaret Talbot’s strikingly thoughtful profile of John Green in The New Yorker.

In the profile, she writes with an almost reserved sense of journalistic wonder at both Green’s influence on and grasp of Internet culture as well as how he is able to juggle so many projects simultaneously.

Seriously. How does he do that?

Read it and you will understand why that. THAT right THERE is the kind of effect I want to have on the world. I want so desperately to create and write and story-tell and talk and communicate and whatever else I have been put on this earth to do in a way that people of all shapes and sizes and whatever elses are able to understand and deal and cope with their existence.

To validate their existence.

To give them something they can relate to. That they can hold on to.

To give them hope. To help lessen the burden of life, if for just even a moment.

Life is hard. I try to do my best to live my life and make things to make yours easier, if even just by letting you giggle a little bit.

Lord knows (quite literally) that I have been through a great deal of stuff. So why not use that stuff to help other people get through the same and similar things?

But it’s so hard when you keep working so hard at so many things when it feels like so few are bearing fruit—if they ever feel like they do—AND YOU WANT TO DO EVERYTHING. EVER. ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

A.D.D. PosterBut can’t. Because A.D.D. is a vile mistress when you have nobody to give you the structure you know you need to thrive.

So, next to John Green, I feel woefully and hopelessly inadequate.

I guess you can only get better at writing by writing more, right?

*opens Scrivener back up*

(Also, this. For me and other people in a situation like mine: http://comicsalliance.com/kate-or-die-sweet-tooth-kate-leth-comic-strip/. They were exactly the words I needed to hear this week. Thanks, Kate Leth. :))

– Chris (@sapha12)


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2 comments

  1. Annie Atko

    Hi Christopher, completely relate to this post, I think leaving your creative mark on the world, affecting the world through your ideas is the most meaningful thing you can do with your life. The struggle to get to this point is hard and confusing and structure is key to achieving success but goes against the way the creative mind works! We just need to harness our inspiration into energy to keep putting ourselves out there, it does and will work. :)

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