On not writing for Honi

On feeling paralysed by possibility and romanticising writing.

It was 1:43 in the afternoon. I was only awake because the afternoon sun beat through that window of my apartment, and only that window. It got too hot, and I hadn’t sorted out a blind yet. I’d been awake earlier that day, had taken my partner to the ferry in the morning, got a coffee and so on. But it was another one of those days. It was a Tuesday, a tutorial day, but I didn’t know what week and at this stage I was afraid to even check what was due. I’d gradually been dividing the week between tutorial days and non-tutorial days, but my behaviour had rapidly become the same — I couldn’t even bring myself to shamefacedly fall into the tutorial then at hand. I was out of bed at 10, then again at 11:30, now it was 2 and it was too hot, but I hadn’t moved. 

My personal experience of apathy isn’t like procrastination, it’s worse. When procrastinating you’re filling time with other things, things you like, things like photography or writing. Apathy, on the other hand, is filling your time thinking about what you should be doing or what you could be doing, becoming nauseous over the sheer looming amount of options, then becoming trapped — too nauseous to approach anything irrespective of how it once made you feel. So instead you lie there doing nothing, aided by lockdown, hooked up and staring into a bottomless digital IV of other people, doing things. I’ve had my mental health issues staring at me ominously from the rear-view mirror my entire adult life and I’ve always sought help, but this semester can only be described as a new level of debilitation. 

As someone who enjoys writing you romanticise it away like Hemingway’s alcoholism or Hunter S. Thompson’s drug-fuelled antics, but things like this have a tendency to slide beyond control – likely never to resurface as the kind of unique genius you consider these authors to be imbued with. Being offered an opportunity to write for Honi was going to bring this whole fantasy full circle. I couldn’t wait to see ideas finally have a chance to become immortalised in print. However, when the time came, I couldn’t write. I sat there, reflecting on why I was ever big-headed enough to consider myself able to write for Honi. I wasn’t even able to figure out what to write about or where to start. Held hostage by crippling anxiety, self-criticism and the kind of hopelessness only recurring lockdowns could bring about, I stared at the blank Word document with a freshly ignited nihilistic worldview. When I couldn’t write I decided I probably didn’t want to, in a grandiose attempt at self-delusion. And when this was decided, I tried to return to photography or focus on my assignments. But that nihilism spread, became procrastination and then complete apathy — giving fresh fuel to everything bad that came before it. 

In the end, despite lofty aspirations of this semester being different, it got worse than I could ever have imagined. However, as much as these things have a tendency to slide beyond control, they also have a tendency to implode with the smallest upset. It’s the final week of the semester, and the inspiration and motivation I finally found spilled over into all facets. Writing for Honi became an intoxicating incentive again, a reformed shadow of what it was thirteen weeks ago, and here I am turning in my first piece of the semester. How? Eventually I became so nauseated staring at a camera horizontally from across the room I picked it up and walked out. If it’s all inherently meaningless anyway, I may as well take some photos, right? 

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