I’ve been trying to write this post for months without realising what I was attempting to say. It got mixed up in my head with another post, about inclusive body positivity, which is coming soon (edit January 2020: I still haven’t written this post). However, I think I’ve untangled everything enough to know that today I want to talk about yearning to feel alive.
Content note for discussion of mental illness.
“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.