Reminisced (wow, that’s a word I never use) today after seeing a comic meme that was aimed at my past self. It went something like:
Person 1 standing in the frame of a room door: “You think you’re so smart because you read so many articles online. Look at how you look right now.”
Person 2 replies from the couch: “Yea, so, what’s your point”? While he was watching cartoons in his underwear with potato chips all over his body.
The comic doesn’t matter (and sorry for the horrible description). I can assure you it wasn’t a comedic nor art masterpiece worthy of being reposted. The memories I got immediately after scrolling down are the objects of importance here.
During my, let’s call it: ‘Early adulthood’, right after landing my first decent paying job in the field I actually studied and wanted to keep growing, I went through a, let’s call it: Smart-ass phase.
It consisted of subscribing to quite a few important magazines. Won’t mention them to avoid any unnecessary distractions and judgements, but they are quite distinguished, well-known and referenced around the globe (they also cost some money). Then I would set at least 2-3 hours every evening to try to read as much as I could from their daily online publications.
This lasted maybe 3 or 4 years, resulting in a know-it-all stage of my life that allowed me to discuss current events from a couple of countries, more profound economic insights and all kinds of miscellaneous —factual and also personal— informations that at the time didn’t offer any other direct benefit to myself (besides feeding my ego).
Really put in the work every night. If I missed one or two nights during the week, I would bookmark the articles and do a full reading day starting on late afternoon/early evening Sunday. How I miss that kind of discipline —and free time, and energy levels— LMAO
Made it my goal to learn from as many publications as I could from different outlets. It got to the point where I would start reading some pieces and could even guess who wrote it based on sentence structuring and tone (Yea, I know, total fanboy nerd.)
I felt great! Extremely well-read and sophisticated for a young adult. I could sit at the big boy table with professionals, graduates and phd students, and at least defend myself on a diverse array of topics without sounding like a dumb-ass or staying quite in a corner.
Then came the usual compliments that turned ego and self-worth boosting into smugness:
“How do you know that?”
“If you permit me to add…”
“Let me explain to you why that’s wrong.”
“Actually, I read that…”
My mentor at that time (long story short, me and him ended in some sort of a top 10 ULTIMATE anime betrayals. Maybe I’ll open up on a future post.) once asked me: Why are you doing all of this? You should get to writing. Not keep reading about the ballet in Indonesia, the pear shortage in Costa Rica or why the Lira is reducing its value today.
Believe or not, my brain got completely reseted and I saw the bigger picture. He was completely right. All of this time I was postponing what was imminent. Hiding my cowardice and self-doubts behind a pseudo ‘search for knowledge’ instead of just starting to develop my own voice as a writer.
I learned on that single moment that you can spend years trying to ‘get smarter or more prepared’ to become a ‘better author’. But until you don’t create the first few sentences, make the classic and never-ending mistakes you’ll never be worthy of calling yourself a writer.