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October 24, 2011 / windlessly

White Blank Page (literally)

The fear of staring out into the unknown… the trepidation of starting a fresh new journey… the dread of marking up a pure, clean sheet of paper. Go ahead, look up at that graphic of a white blank page above these words. Let it strike fear into your heart. Have the untarnished whiteness swallow up your whole consciousness. Let it envelope your senses and numb your resolve.

No, it’s not a white blank page as in a song by Mumford & Sons. It’s an everyday, ordinary, piece of paper that you might grab to start your Math homework or a lined piece of loose leaf you take out to finally write an intro for that English essay you need to do. Or maybe instead it’s a new “Document 1” on Microsoft word, the cursor blinking expectantly at you as you think of what to say, or the empty space in the text message box in your phone as you think of how to apologize to your girlfriend.

But get this- it’s not actually the page that holds so much weight, that makes it tower like Goliath before you, that freezes you with indecision, but the fear of writing on that page. Writers face this monster all the time. So do artists as they stare at a blank canvas. Or composers who hear melodies in their head but don’t know how to transfer it to paper. The reality is that everyone has a seed of doubt in them. Somewhere beneath all the motivation and drive and will, there is an uncertainty that latches onto your mind and stops you from committing to whatever it is you want to accomplish. People are afraid of imperfection, of creating something that is below their level of ability, of failing. They are afraid of the things that could go wrong, the things that won’t live up to their perceived ideals. The fear of falling short of expectations is what really makes people hesitate.

It took me a while to get back to posting in this blog. Sure, I could use the excuse that I’ve been busy with school and sports, but there’s not one hundred percent true. There were definitely times I had time but was afraid of taking the chance or afraid of risking the expectations that you, the reader, as well as myself, place on every character that I type here. But it doesn’t just apply to writing. Athletes have to learn to pass over this moment of indecision. Freeze for a moment in a game and you’re dead. My soccer coaches have told me again and again to not to be afraid of shooting because I might miss. “You’ll miss 100% of the shots you never take,” the saying goes.

But it never disappears. Every time I see a white, blank page I’m brought back to the brink. It’s a moment of fear you have to conquer. Remind yourself that you don’t have to be perfect. After all, I still think a page marked up with mistakes, failures, and sub-par material is ultimately more interesting than just a empty blank page.

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