Theme: Best Self
Visionary: Sally Hogshead
Prompt: What is your most valuable personality trait — and how can you bring it forward in your best work in 2015?
I feel good about this one. For years now, I’ve been saying it–stubbornness is my best thing. I’ve dithered and dawdled about a lot of these prompts, but I’ve got this one, y’all.
As much of a mess as I can be, I am able to recognize what I do well, what’s good about me. Despite being an introspective, introverted English major, I actually, most days, am pretty okay with myself. Diving into the turmoil of the human experience in all its icky darkness is fun, but I don’t inhabit the darkness 24/7. It’s like my Mos Eisley, a wretched hive of scum and villainy that I like to visit. Often.
There are a number of personality traits I’m pleased about having (along with those that I’m not so pleased about), but the duct tape that holds it all together for me is stubbornness. It’s my go-to quality, the one that enhances and enables all the others.
I didn’t realize this about myself until I was a new mother with postpartum depression, recovering from a last-minute C-section and attempting to breastfeed a baby who, when he wasn’t having appointments for jaundice, ultrasounds, genetic testing, hearing tests, and probably fifty other things I’ve forgotten, was steadily and alarmingly losing weight. For the first five months of his life, we hung out mostly with lactation consultants, pediatricians, and the La Leche League. Nothing worked, until finally and oddly, we ended up at a speech therapist. Problem solved. That’s another story, but the point of all this is that the only thing that got me through a nightmare of attempting to nurse, pumping, syringe-feeding, weigh-ins at the pediatrician’s, rinse-and-repeat (no, there really wasn’t much sleeping in there) was my family’s support and my own sheer stubbornness.
In those days, I felt like a dairy cow in some big agribusiness farm. Everything human about me felt stripped away, except for my grim refusal to give up. So I clung to that. When my son finally started gaining weight and finally learned how to nurse and I finally crawled up out of the fog of those nightmarish first five months, I realized that my stubbornness is the best thing about me.
I’m creative and articulate. I’m hard-working and sometimes even confident. It’s stubbornness, though, that motivates me. Now, in the winter of my discontent, as I realize I haven’t been prioritizing my writing, as the rejections from agents roll in, as the seemingly endless cycle of attempting to become published continues, it’s stubbornness that keeps me going, that makes me open my laptop even when writing is the last thing in the world I think I’m capable of, even when it seems no one will ever want this novel, even when everyone and everything in my world seems to be clamoring for more time and attention and energy that I can possibly give.
So in 2015, I’m going with stubbornness. I’m going to stubbornly refuse to keep living like a writer who writes for fun, and write like the writer I really am–one who writes to live. I’m going to rearrange my schedule, rethink the pattern of my days, and I’m going to write as if my life depended upon it.
Because it does.
Here’s to 2015. Here’s to the laundry not getting done and the Eiffel Tower of dishes teetering precariously in the sink. Here’s to not obsessively checking all the social media. Here’s to the dustbunnies. Long may they roam free.
I’ve got no time for that. I’ll be too busy writing.
What is your best personality trait? How can you harness it for the greater good–of yourself, and the world?