I’ve been trying to write this post for months without realising what I was attempting to say. There’s another post coming, about inclusive body positivity, but today I want to talk about yearning to feel alive. I talk about my mental health in this post (content warning!) but it’s more about how I’m finally beginning to feel more than just crushing depression.
“Start spreadin’ the news, I’m leavin’ today
I want to be a part of it
New York, New York”
~ Frank Sinatra, ‘New York, New York’
That’s what I’m chasing right now, I think – feeling alive. It’s a feeling that is defined in different ways and different moments, but it relates to my mental health, I think. After months of drowning in an awful depressive soup, I’m beginning to feel like I’m in control again. I love it, this feeling of confidence and energy and something-maybe-approaching happiness. I feel powerful and alive.
It ties up a little with my new found thirst (ahem) for hedonistic adventures, but it’s not solely to do with sex and kink.
It’s the feeling I get when I’m watching The Bold Type – a feminist-magazine-set TV show that I’d love even if it didn’t have a queer, black woman as one of the three leads. It’s the feeling I get when I’m listening to comedy podcasts or clips of stand-up comedy on Youtube. I laugh, which even now there are days when I don’t think I ever will again.
It’s the feeling I get when I put together an outfit for the day that makes me feel like myself. It’s the feeling I get when I’m wearing my I-run-the-world boots as I walk into the city centre. On the right day it doesn’t matter if I’m stepping over puddles or skipping along in sunshine, I feel like I can do anything I put my mind to. Political slogan t-shirts, feminist badges, and queer-as-fuck flannel and Doc Martens are my armour.
It’s the feeling I get when I’m singing along to Queen’s Killer Queen, Dolly Parton’s Nine to Five or ABBA’s When I Kissed The Teacher – songs that make me feel powerful and ready to take on the world. It’s the feeling when I step off the train, a feel-good song playing through my ear-phones and ready to kick ass.
It’s the feeling I get when I settle into a corner table at my favourite coffee shop and opened my laptop, inspiration flowing through my fingers as I type a hundred words a minute. It’s the feeling I get when I feel brave enough to submit my work – either as Quinn or under my civilian name – to a publication or anthology, and for the a few moments I feel like I might actually make it as a writer one day.
It’s the feeling I get when I actually get my shit together and clean my teeth twice a day. Like a proper functioning adult human. Not that I went through a period when I didn’t, of course…
It’s the feeling of being productive, of being ready. It’s the feeling of being in control, of being alive. And I want more of it – I want to feel it all the time. I know that’s not possible, even if I didn’t struggle with suicidal ideation, to feel that all the time. But I want to, I want to go to feel alive. That’s what I’m yearning for: feeling like I can fly, like anything is possible.
Recently I’ve been listening to Hamilton and dreaming of a career and yearning for this feeling. This addictive, powerful feeling of being alive. The possibility that absolutely anything can happen. In my head, I picture it like I’m standing on the sidewalk in New York. A camera in my hand, a paperback in my bag, nestled beside the laptop which holds the first draft of my queer YA lit novel.
It’s never going to happen. But sometimes I can believe that it will. Nowadays I pull all-nighters and think about watching the lights of the sleepless city blur past the window of a taxi. I get up early in the morning to go running and think about what feeling this awake every single day would be like. I’m not sure I have much faith in the fake it ’til you make it strategy – if anything takes me to that place it will be luck and hard work and a generous splash of privilege, but it feels good to feel like there’s a chance I can actually do this.
I dream, and sometimes I dream so big it scares me. Like the idea of moving to a city as big as London or Tokyo scares me. I am yearning for something as big and full of possibilities as New York.
Image sourced through Pixabay. And whether or not I’ve managed to articular myself here – and I suspect not – I’ll leave you in the hands (with the voice?) of Lin-Manuel Miranda.