The Light of Uncertainty
Well, my book launched. It was pretty underwhelming. Disappointing, really. I don't even have enough reviews to get the book on promo sites. But, after taking some time to rest, reconnect with myself, and reflect, I'm realizing a lot of good has come out of this.
First of all, I have realized that I wasn't being genuine in my communication via my blog, and it ties into my second realization, which was a cold splash of reality to the face.
I'll admit, the naivete of publishing my first book and fantasizing about it being a smash hit went to my head. I think that is an unavoidable pitfall of putting any art out into the world. Maybe it was a mixture of the elation that prospect gave me and also feeling timid in not wanting to ruin that possibility that has made me... put up a false pretense of forced optimism.
Not that I am pessimistic now. Quite the opposite in fact. But it is an optimism grounded in a more honest sense of self, rather than a projection of who I thought I should be. Which is simultaneously more terrifying and more liberating.
Every post till now, I felt I had to try and be my own hype-man, to pump people up and get them excited for my product. I knew that wasn't who I was, but I thought that was who I had to be to become successful.
Oddly enough, failure (or rather, the lack of a booming success) has given me the permission to seek authenticity and speak from there.
It hurts to not have your work acknowledged. I put about three years of dedicated effort into this book. And it kind of feels like it just dropped down and sank into the ocean beneath the swell of other titles populating the internet. It's disheartening.
But I realized, I would rather fail as myself than succeed as someone else.
I am only just now finding my voice when speaking personally like this. I am quite proud of my first book, and I think I was speaking honestly there. But I have always leaned heavily on my ideas to justify myself, which is in some ways easier when have a few hundred pages to weave a narrative, rather than a page to tell someone who you are, what you're feeling, and just speak, even if it's into the void.
It's been awkward getting to this point. I've been angry, depressed, in denial, waiting with baited breath, hopeless, forced myself to hope, and so the cycle spun, sometimes several times in a single day. I don't quite know what the difference is now, given that I still feel all of those things to some extent. But those emotions feel integrated, like I can feel all those things and still breathe, rather than suffocate or feel claustrophobic and tangled up in the darker parts of myself.
I have tried to do Jungian shadow work before, but only recently have come to what I hope is a deeper understanding of the process (with the help of an awesome teacher, Ediya of Ediyasmr on Youtube). I have been pretty diligent with my spiritual practice over the years. I did westernized yoga for about 5 years every day and have been doing Kriya Yoga (a classical form of yoga) for about 5 years now. I was always poignantly aware of my shortcomings as a "spiritual" person. Ironically, a lot of those shortcomings stemmed from perceived shortcomings and my insecurities about them (first and foremost, my doubts about being able to write). And for almost a decade, I thought the way to progress spiritually was to purge my shadow, to persevere through the doubt, anger, sadness, rage, and depression until I came out the other side of the proverbial gateway.
Now, I am learning to give my shadow space inside of me. And that alone is giving me the peace, compassion, and self-love that I have always needed to heal deep wounds that have plagued me for too long. It didn't help that I was essentially tearing them back open. I suppose I thought that getting rid of the parts of me that were in pain was the same thing as healing, or "purifying" myself into a higher state.
I know this feels like a tangent, but all of these things have been coming up for me in the lull between my hopes and the lack of response to the book I poured myself into for three years. And I also am experimenting with a more honest voice, one that reveals all facets of me to you. A part of me still thinks spirituality is ridiculous and illogical, but there's a part of me that aspires for something beyond what any rational explanation can account for. And it is for that reason that I write. I think that is what genuine art does. It transmits something even the artist themselves don't fully understand but can intuit. It is what nourishes our souls, and it is that connection that we wish to share with the world.
So I will continue to write. Hopefully, I'll continue to grow as a writer and a person and that will lead me to creating better stories and living a more authentic and fulfilling life. But for the first time, ironically in the face of disappointment, I genuinely do feel hopeful that life is possible for me. I don't know if it will bring success, and there are more tribulations to come. But I am learning to welcome them, just as much as I am learning to let me shadow bare its fangs at the challenge.
It feels good to be alive and to be myself. I don't know who that is, but I look forward to finding out.