Nervously staring at this empty page, my heart racing a little, my fingers feel frozen and my mind is either speeding with a million random thoughts or trying to escape.
This is what I mean when I say I’m neurotic.
I’m not sure if that fits a professional or clinical description, but for me it’s related to feelings of anxiety, excessive self-consciousness, and negative or pessimistic views. Like any other mental or even physical health issue, there is a wide spectrum. If I had to, I would place myself in a high-functioning space, but with a special talent to be overwhelmed and construct negative outcomes out of nowhere.
I even made a career out of it. Constructing worst-case scenarios and analyzing the risk of them actually happening was the core of my everyday life, and I was pretty good at it. This over-sensitivity to the environment and perception of detail beyond what’s obvious could be qualified as obsessive, but in that context it was accepted, even encouraged.
As I began challenging my own beliefs and patterns of thinking, I got scared. Could this “neurosis” be getting the best of me? I remember a particular conversation with a friend (someone I wouldn’t even place on the neurotic spectrum), and after 20 seconds of him describing his business plan to me, I had already thought of 20 different ways that it could fail. I didn’t say a word, but it got me thinking and kind of envying his fresh and breezy approach to life, like somehow it was easier for him.
I tried to justify myself: Wouldn’t it be easier not to be afraid if you didn’t see the huge train coming at you? But the truth is that the possibility of a train running you over doesn’t mean it will, and thinking about it can’t prevent it from running over you if you cross at the wrong time. Because nothing is ever that simple.
To be honest, I didn’t really know how to explain this neurosis until recently, when I heard a quote that went something like this: “The only difference between neurotics and artists is that the latter have a creative outlet for their neurosis.”
Something in me moved. Could that be it? Could all these different stories or scenarios in my head be my own creativity finding a way to get out? Is this the only way they knew how to? Is there any other way?
After my aha moment, I still struggled with the concept of “artist.” I would never dare to call myself that, probably because in my head it brings up names like Da Vinci, Van Gogh, or some random pop singer (for some reason). But then I remembered a quote I read somewhere on social media:
“I think everything in life is art. What you do. How you dress. The way you love someone, and how you talk. Your smile and your personality. What you believe in, and all your dreams. The way you drink your tea. How you decorate your home. Or party. Your grocery list. The food you make. How your writing looks. And the way you feel. Life is art.” ~ Helena Bonham Carter
And if life is art, then we are all artists.
That’s when my aha moment turned into pure wisdom. Maybe this whole journey is not about becoming a good painter or writer. Maybe it involves finding a tool, something that makes the inherent hurt of living bearable, something that we can throw back at the universe to feel like we matter.
But in the end, maybe it’s just about being alive, about daring to actually live—not just to pass our time here, but to sing it, paint it, or write it, to craft it into our own unique masterpiece.