#60: Woke culture, turning 30, & impulsive tattoos
Hello and good morning!!
I’m sore from going on “walks” to try to heal my body from being sedentary for 6 months, what’s up with you??? This week is my monthly advice column, Dear Baby. Here are the five questions I answered:
What are your views on woke culture?
Tips for having a great 30th birthday?
Is therapy actually necessary for everybody? Or just a tool for constant self-improvement under capitalism?
How do you find the confidence to keep writing every week? I have an intense fear of exposure.
I want to get a tattoo but can’t stop overthinking it. What are your thoughts on tattoos?
Thank you as always for sending them in! If you’d like to read my answers and possibly be convinced into getting a tattoo TODAY, you can subscribe by clicking this tooth:
But here’s one for free because I know $5/mo is a lot:
“When did you notice you were confident enough to keep going with your newsletter? I send mine once a month and I have mixed internal reactions, but mostly I get insomnia and crazy anxious about being too vulnerable. I enjoy getting varied responses (almost all of them from friends and family members <3) and the writing process itself, but the intense fear of exposure almost makes me feel like my skin will never be thick enough. Do you experience some of that? Thanks!”
I’ve been trying to figure out how to answer this—because I absolutely experience exposure-related anxiety!!!—and the simplest answer is probably the best one: I keep going because I think it’s worth it. Writing has always been therapeutic to me. It suits my brain on a level I can’t control. Through doing it repeatedly, I’ve become more acquainted with my own thoughts and values. It’s helped me connect with people on a deeper level than I might otherwise. It’s grounded me in a sense of purpose and contribution—made me feel less like a nihilistic amoeba. There are also times when my writing utterly humiliates, frustrates, or drains me. Sometimes I feel like it says the totally wrong thing about me and I want everyone who reads it to forget I ever existed. But ultimately my life is fuller because I keep doing it.
Do you think it’s worth it? Humiliation is an occupational hazard of writing, or really any form of art. I think that’s a little bit the point, because the exposure is also why it feels good to make it: through it you might feel less alone, more understood, more...exposed. I’ve written about safety and freedom before—how they are two important elements of life that also oppose each other—and I think writing, for me, is about feeling free, which means sometimes it makes me feel unsafe. Does writing your newsletter make you feel free? Does it tap into some part of you that feels trapped, untapped, or undernourished? Because if so, I think it’s okay if you want to hide after you do it, at least a little bit. I think that’s proof you’re a warm-blooded human.
That’s not to say you have to embrace constant insomnia and anxiety to keep going—“creativity discourse” can get way too horny for suffering. I think making art should feel worth it. Not purely good and easy, but worth it. If it doesn’t, how can you make your practice more enjoyable and sustainable for you? That’s a question I’m asking myself all the time. Last year I went through a bout of over-exposure that made me anxious and depressed. At the time I suspected I had a confidence problem, and maybe that was true to some extent, but also I just needed to implement better boundaries. To renegotiate my own safety and well-being. Once I did that, it started to feel fun again.
I’m saying all this because I don’t think there’s a level of confidence required to make art or show people your work. Only a necessary level of acceptance that it’s a little humiliating and revealing of your imperfection. Sometimes that exposure will feel more worth it to you than other times, and I think it’s okay to be fickle about that—emotions ebb and flow by definition. Our needs are changing all the time. But I think repetition will help: You’ll develop a stronger intuition for what you need as a writer, or what writing is giving you that makes it feel like it’s worth the trouble. I also think your confidence and self-trust will grow incidentally through that process. Not by any magic words I offer you, but through going through all this over and over. Through realizing you put something out there that sucks and nothing really happened to you. Through putting something out there that’s good and realizing you’ve improved, etc. Just keep in mind that confidence isn’t a panacea. I’m wildly more confident now than I was five years ago and I still feel nervous about my writing all the time. A little bit of risk is required.
Okay have a nice Sunday! Here’s a song to brighten your day by the classic band beabadoobee.