Bullies. Peer Pressure. Parents. Academics. Nagging bosses… Stress exists in many forms. Equally various are the ways in which to deal with tough situations.
I used to think my imagination was merely a mechanism that further separated me from my classmates. With several psychology lectures behind me, the more logical answer is that my imagination became my shield.
Maybe I do ‘waste’ too much time with my head in the clouds, refusing to grow sessile in the place we deem reality. But my reasons aren’t as important as the efficiency it presents.
It is because of my imagination that I conquer life’s challenges.
Throughout elementary school, my main problem was bullies and a lack of self-confidence. Being the avid reader that I am, I buried my soul in the books that fed me, pretending the problems my favourite characters faced were the same problems I had to face.
One example comes from the children’s sci-fi series ANIMORPHS. In the first book, five teens discover their world is being invaded by Yeerks, a parasitic alien race. It was rare to distinguish if another human was being controlled by Yeerks, but a hint was any unusual behaviour from the characters’ friends and family.
Where does this play into my reality, you ask? Well, I told myself that my bullies had no choice in their actions. They were controlled by Yeerks. I admit, this confession makes me feel pathetic, possibly a manifestation of E.L. Doctorow‘s quote that ‘writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia,’ and therefore writers merely channel the disease through a creative filter.
But it worked.
And isn’t that the point of books? To carry us away to other worlds where characters confront difficult situations that result in changes and growth, so that by the end of the book, we’ve changed as much as any of the fictional entities involved.
This defence mechanism probably more deservingly fits into the thespian category, given how it utilises the traits of others. I like to think, though, that the commonality between actors and writers is the chameleon skin we wear.
Honestly, what other careers allow a person to literally do whatever or be whomever they could imagine (and beyond)? They’re the two ‘best’ careers because, within them, every other occupation is achievable. I can wake up tomorrow and decide I want to be a lawyer. Do a bit of research, come up with a story, and I’m there. But I’m not stuck if I decide next week to vacation on Coruscant, Middle Earth, or Alagaësia.
Painstakingly, they’re also among the ‘worst’ careers (what art isn’t?) because of the precarious dedication required to succeed.
I guess I’m trying to convince myself that I’ve chosen wisely in my pursuit of writing. Here I can survive because it is my oxygen. My blood. My soul.
Thoughts? Advice? Shrink recommendations?