Challenge Journal #3: Get out of my way, Ally

It wasn’t that I didn’t have the time; it was that I didn’t use the time I had to my advantage.

It wasn’t that I didn’t have the guidance; it was that I didn’t ask her the right questions.

Yes– my greatest prior missed opportunity was my gateway project.

I don’t know if it’s fair to say that I picked the wrong topic, but I’m going to say it anyway: I picked the wrong topic. Or, maybe, I just tried to address this topic at the wrong time in my life. The only thing on my brain as I began my gateway project at the beginning of junior year was, how is it possibly junior year already? It felt as though I had woken up one morning on the other end of a time machine, and it was the first time when I began to feel that I was trapped in a vortex as my life zoomed past me at rapid speed. Now, I am living in that vortex, and I have grown to just accept the inevitable pace at which my life is moving. I feel lucky to say that the cliche “time flies when you’re having fun” is working out for me and that it’s fine to just enjoy the ride as life hits fast-forward. As I made my gateway project, I realized quite early that my central question, How do I slow down time? has no real answer. Who the hell was I to try to solve one of the greatest mysteries of life?

For example:

It is all because I am twenty years-old. Curse the damned day that I turned twenty. The day I turned twenty is the day that I lost my mind. I woke up one morning with my entire life behind me: the decade when I learned to write and ride a bike and drive a car was all grouped together in a chapter called my teens. The next chapter was beginning, and I had no idea how to write the first page.


I had the time, and I had the guidance, but I could not seem to get out of my own way. I could have searched for a way early on to address this problem in a lighthearted manner that wasn’t so embarrassingly meaningless and boring, but I got inside my own head and just gave up and surrendered to producing a cliche work that I hope nobody outside of my gateway class has seen. I am having a similar problem now but in a different way: I am, again, psyching myself out of producing something great, but not because I have the wrong topic and because I am asking the wrong questions. This time, I know that I am up for the challenge, and I have discovered that as I have made progress week to week. This time, I am committed to writing and rewriting until I find the right voice, because this time I know that it is impossible for me to surrender to a cliche– my topic simply would not permit that.

This time, I won’t be embarrassed to share it. I just need to find the courage to share it.

One thought to “Challenge Journal #3: Get out of my way, Ally”

  1. Hi Ally—

    I really appreciated reading your post, especially because I relate to it a lot. It’s something that I’ve faced a lot in my writing in the past, from columns to essays for class. It’s something that I’ve been working through as I write my final project for this class! It can be so hard to trust ourselves to do the work we know we’re capable of doing. I talked to my class about this, about how I sometimes find myself not working as hard as I know I can and should because it’s easier for me to laugh off a subpar piece of work as intentionally so, instead of facing not being as good as I want to be when I put in full effort.

    Acknowledging that you’re the only thing holding you back is a really important step, in my eyes. Once we finally stop trying to shift the blame onto not having enough time or enough experience, all that’s left to do is confront ourselves and ask if we’re up for the challenge. It sounds like you are, and I’m glad to hear that you’re making progress! Reading this made me think about how I’m facing that in my own project and it helps to know someone else feels like their own biggest obstacle sometimes.

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