On writing (…and avoidance)

I’ve been “avoiding” writing in the blog this week because some of the graduate school applications “opened” on Monday, which means it’s time to actually write after all of my research into what makes a good international relations graduate school application essay and the specific programs at the schools themselves. I feel as if I’m going to be writing, it needs to be work on my essay. I’ve read lots of articles and websites on what to “do” in a grad school essay, so now I probably have 30 pages of typed notes on tips and suggestions of dos and don’ts. That is nothing new for me because I love research on topics I’m interested in, the act of finding new information I didn’t have or think of before. And then it’s time to write, and I’ve spent so much time gathering notes, and I have put so much pressure on myself to write the perfect essay that clearly conveys what I want to say that no idea or theme seems good enough. As you’ve probably gathered from my first or second blog post or if you know me well, you know this is nothing new for me. I’ve displayed this pattern on probably every essay or paper I’ve ever written. By now, I would have hoped I’d have a plan on how to overcome this, but I’ve always known the answer: just write, and don’t stop until I have a few pages to get past the dreaded blank page. Or copy and paste some of my research notes onto the essay page, and just write regardless of if the subject or anecdote is first, last, anywhere in between or not in the essay at all.

I guess I have gotten better over the years by reducing the time I’m in a stalemate with a blank Word document. It makes little difference to me if they compliment what I have written or encourage me that it’s “good.” I no doubt appreciate it, but as cliche, as it is, I’m my own biggest critic, and I want to feel as if I did my best and conveyed what I wanted to convey as clearly as I can/could. (Unless you’re on the admissions committee, in which case I’ll write whatever you think works!)

Avoidance has been one of my maladaptive “coping” mechanism (my other most frequently used coping strategy is in some ways the exact opposite of this – obsessing and ruminating and driving myself nearly insane by needing to do something, at times making impulsive decisions.) I don’t get manic like those living with bipolar disorder, my brain just becomes like an FM radio station where a DJ in a studio far away chooses which songs play in my head rather than having my own catalog of music where I can pick and choose what I want to hear or even if I want to sit in silence.

Because of these conflicting “strategies,” I have often longed to turn off my brain in search of internal peace or at least some quiet. I’m never exactly sure what “survival” mode I’m going to go into. It often depends on the circumstance and the ability of control I feel I have over the issue. (Note: My parents have helped me the best way they knew how since I was 7 or 8 by bringing me to therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists and by supporting my evolving mixture of counseling and medication).

Is that too personal? Probably, but I can avoid everyone who reads this blog because I’m halfway around the world. 😉

Rome report: I have been running around looking for a permanent place to stay now that I have a job teaching English. Oh yes, I have a job. I was a little hesitant about saying anything on here until I actually started because you never know, but I’m starting a week-long introduction course next week. The school I’ll be working for is a large international language school, so it is supposed to teach me their “method” and other introductory information.

It’s not easy finding a room in an apartment within my budget, but I’ll keep looking.

More Soon.

Erica

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