Am I Doing This Right?
What is life about, really? An insomniac Gen X-identifying artist with a caffeine addiction and ADHD explains it all,
and why “F**k you, f**k your aesthetic, and double-f**k your algorithm” is the key to enlightenment.
Like many a modern woman, I do it all. My hat rack overflows: I’m the ASM at a guitar store, a part-time realtor, band member (in non-pandemic times), painter, web designer and master, graphic designer, musician/composer/recording and mixing engineer, Tarot reader, general contractor and money mover (I’m renovating my house), social media manager (ooof), blogger, YouTuber, wife, lover, friend, daughter, and caregiver to a very sweet but needy and diabetic kitty. And that’s just what I DO on a daily basis. Since I started this Witch of WTF venture back in May of this glorious year of 2020, I study constantly, learning about everything from writing CSS code to how-to-beat-the-algorithms, to WTF is TikTok even?, to how chemistry works in painting and how to NOT fuck up resin, how to balance a busy life while maintaining executive-level mental acuity and also cultivating a robust spiritual practice… it goes on and on.
I’m not complaining. I’m a cis white woman in America. I live in the forest in a big house that I own. I went to a great college, drive a Honda Accord, have Apple electronics and enough expendable income to buy all the colors of paint or Tarot decks that catch my fancy. I’m not even going to get into my guitars or music gear… that’s a whole other can of worms. I’ve had some incredible experiences and opportunities that are such an explicit illustration of my privilege that I downplay many things because it honestly seems obscene to acknowledge in the political and social climate of late 2020.
So why do I feel like I’m failing? Why do I keep asking if I’m doing it right?
The message is clear: You must be everything and you must be the best at it. Your follower count determines your worth as a human and artist. You must be an activist. If you’re a woman, add that you must be a mother and have a full-time, high-level career and balance both with incredible ease and an air of immoveable poise and grace, and have enough spare time to practice advanced yoga and then meditate for a fucking hour. Your home must be clean and tidy, you must always be ‘put together’ with perfect hair and on-point fashion, and every evening you make a healthy, delicious homemade meal from fresh, local, organically-sourced GMO,-dairy-and-gluten-free vegetarian ingredients. The only vice you’re allowed is wine. But don’t drink too much, or suddenly you’re a Karen and you want to speak to the manager.
I feel like I’m failing because Cosmopolitan’s expectation of ‘modern woman’ is laughably unattainable. I cannot maintain the Instagram aesthetic in perpetuity. For fuck’s sake, I’m inching towards 40 but these forehead wrinkles look old enough to be headed to the social security office to collect their checks! I cannot keep up closely with politics; it does far too much damage to my mental health, which is precarious on the best of days (gee thanks, ADHD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, chronic insomnia, and Seasonal Affective Disorder!). I cannot get impassioned about a lot of things outside my microcosm because I cannot keep up with my own self-imposed concerns and responsibilities. I am a chronic workaholic, over-achiever, doer-and-fixer, and I feel like I need at least 3 clones to accomplish everything in a day I feel pressured by society to accomplish. And then I ask, oh shit, am I virtue signaling by writing this? What the fuck does that even mean? I can’t keep up with jargon or acronyms or stomach the punishment endured for failing to, either.
And the silliest bullshit of all? I feel like in every external way, I do not count because I do not have even a meager follower/subscriber count, my album and art sales have been less than desirable, and I don’t have the fervor or energy to protest or yell loud enough to be heard above the din. WHAT BULLSHIT IS THAT? Why does my brain even latch on to such an incredibly stupid story, that I do not count? Oh yeah, because sensationalism is a fucking DRUG and we are addicted to the consumption of carefully-curated, candy-coated content. The bright lights and pretty colors on our screens, the shallow satisfaction of endless scrolling, the schadenfreude of the melodramatic tantrums and tears of our enemies, the easy escape from being alone in silence with our own thoughts and *gasp* feelings… we’re slaves to all of it. We’re addicted to the aesthetic of perfection and everywhere we look there are ads promising products and courses to get you there in 6 effortless weeks for 12 monthly ‘investments’ of $397. We’re always jonesing for a fix because we’ve allowed the insidious content to creep and crawl and consume the natural structure and function of our brains. Human brains cannot evolve quickly enough to keep up with modern technology. We frail sacks of flesh and bone cannot keep up with the current all-or-nothing algorithm, and now there is no middle ground. And that’s why so many of us feel like we’re going a little crazy – WE ARE. And in the boundarylessness of the hysteria/complacency tilt-a-whirl we’re riding, we’ve almost lost the ability to dance to our own heartbeats.
I can’t live like that anymore, a pawn in an overwrought matrix of uninteligible noise. This constant exhaustion and burnout is not sustainable for anyone. (Yes, not even you, Super Woman.)
I spend a lot of my home time in silence. I often drive in silence. I find that quiet is what I yearn for more than anything. No TV, no music, no screens. Late at night, with most of the lights off, I can make a cup of tea, light a candle or two, and read or write in perfect peace. I can hear the gurgling in my guts and the cracking in my joints as I engage again in the constant battle for a comfortable temperature (blanket on, blanket off, on, off…). Oh, and the joy of a single Dove dark chocolate! I wash my face and ritualistically apply lotion after potion, and my brain mindlessly wanders. If I’m lucky, I fall asleep right away. If I’m not, all of existence be damned, but thank God for my Kindle! In the morning, with a steaming cup of coffee, I sit at my desk and look out the window at the forest and sky and do my daily Tarot draw, then write down what I am grateful for. Sometimes I light incense, or a tea light, because they bring my back to my senses. I breathe in deeply, watch the smoke curl in the air, and indulge in every hot, bitter, life-giving gulp of tar-thick coffee and relish the warmth in my hands and body. I stretch and work out the kinks in my stiff muscles and degenerating spine. I run my fingers through my unruly hair and untie the small tangles, wondering how they happened. I cringe as I shift because the skin of my thighs sticks to the faux leather of my chair and it feels gross, the unsticking; but that’s the joy of having a body – the pleasure and the pain.
This life goes by quickly, and as the people I love the most grow older, the more precious I hold each moment. I want to witness all of it. I want to LIVE it. I can’t bear to think of losing another year buried in my screen trying to impress people I don’t give a shit about, who will never know nor give a shit about me. I can’t imagine opting out of quality time with my most soulful connections because I feel obligated to create a piece of content to fit an inauthentic aesthetic and maybe gain a follower or two. Literally, FUCK ALL THAT. That is NOT living. That’s obeying.
I think the most radical, rebellious thing we can do is to practice awareness, to take a step back, to slow down, and to abandon the race. Even if it’s only for a few short minutes a day. Those minutes become heady and seductive, and soon you find it’s the most exhilarating, liberating feeling to turn your distractions off and walk away. Unless it’s your day to die, the world – busyness and content and to-do lists and all – will still be there tomorrow.
So, I ask again, am I doing this right?
By my own standards – the only ones that truly matter – the answer is yes, I am doing this right. I am not failing. I do not need to burn myself out to do-it-all to achieve ‘social proof’ and look great doing it in order to count. Fuck you, fuck your aesthetic, and double-fuck your algorithm because I ALREADY COUNT. In the quiet moments I am aware that I am enough, and I am worthwhile, and I don’t need anyone else’s validation to prove to myself what I innately know to be true. My heart is beating and my absolute priority is using the time I have to love and nurture the people who actually matter to me. I’m doing just fine, even if I never muster the energy to find out how to properly eat a fucking pomegranate.
Here is the painting video that I spent way too much time and effort on that inspired me to venture down this rabbit hole:
#12 Frightening Flower
And if you’re now so depressed all you want to do is drink yourself into oblivion, try this tasty bourbon pomegranate (see what I did there?) cocktail: Autumnal Equinox Cocktail