Boxes


I try to put myself in a box. All the time. Everyday. There are so many boxes I try to squeeze myself into. They’re scattered all over my living room floor like an Amazon prime-shipping addict (also true). 

There’s the “occupations” or ways that I occupy my time: writer doodler actor producer boss manager business owner thinker critic performer improviser director seasonal entrepreneur trailblazer filmmaker person who still doesn’t get paid for her work etc. 

There’s the identities and perceptions: woman, woman of color, brown person (who still benefits on the colorism scale), muslim lady, why does everything have to be about race?, why? in general, skinny, etc.

There’s my personalities: dork shy fierce intense scary brooding thoughtful downer silly funny sequined reserved open closed bold ambitious fire…

And then there is me trying to pick a lane in myself. Trying to cut away parts of myself to conveniently explain myself. Trying to squeeze my big huge fabulous amazing-ass self into the tiniest most convenient box possible. 

So to myself, today, I say: you are already the box you were meant to be in: yourself. This is your skin, your body, your gifts, your human spectrum of good and evil, your mission, your life. The world has limiting ideas of and for you. But you are limitless in your own way. You will never fit in another person’s shadow or box or self. Please try to stop trying. And recycle those damn boxes for God’s sake.

I’m hosting #TodayIMet!

I’m excited to share that I’m hosting a new show called #TodayIMet, a conversation series that goes beyond small talk. It’s the first show Yumna Khan and I made for our company, Stranger Magic Productions.

In Episode 1, I speak with Linda Frost, my teammate from ImprovCity. Linda is fearless and bold, funny as hell, and the kind of person that makes me feel comfortable being human. We talk about falling in love at forty, gender expectations for growing up in the 40’s and 50’s, the importance of female friendships.

Throughout the conversation, I was humbled and surprised at how similar things are for women of all ages. My favorite quote from Linda was, “Be comfortable in your own skin. I’m still working on that, by the way. Just being able to say it isn’t the same as being able to do it.” 

I hope you enjoy Episode 1. Please do share your thoughts in the comments. I can’t wait to hear from you!

I’m in creative hibernation.

Nida Chowdhry, writer, blog, creative slump, writer’s block, existential dread, existential crisis, woe is me, what is my life amounting to, cartoon, doodle

I’ve been in a pretty negative funk lately. It’s not an uncommon phase. And occurs when I’m ‘in between’ things. Between projects and brewing what’s next. It’s an uncertain time and I am pretty hard on myself in these phases.

Looking back, these are times when I steep in feeling crappy about something, but that something leads me to figuring out my next steps. So it’s kind of like a winter. Just cold and sad and brutal, until I’m ready to… oh God, I’m going to make a pun: spring into action.

I was just washing some dishes, realizing that I think that people I deem to be successful don’t have these feelings. That they don’t experience negative emotions.

An Aha! moment.

There it is. I make myself feel incredibly bad for wintering, being in winter, because I believe it stems from my being a failure / unsuccessful. As though if I were truly successful, I’d never have winters. I’d just be working and producing, all the time, never needing to stop, never having these dead dull frosty-ass slumps. (hehe, Ass slumps)

There it is. I make myself feel bad for being seasonal. Of course I’m going to have winters. And winters are not my favorite season. But my creative winters allow me to rest, kill off the bad ideas and distractions, really brew in what is bothering me most i.e. what’s missing in my life i.e. what I’m going to fix next i.e. the direction I’m going to head i.e. what I’m going to apply myself to / work on / create / produce / study / research / etc.

And the reason I associate myself as being a failure during winter is because I think all of these people I consider successful, do not winter. They’re just in a 24/7 tropical paradise where sunburn does not exist. 

Anyhow, this new realization is liberating. That means, I am in winter, and it’s okay that I don’t like it, but it’s normal, and doesn’t mean I suck. Hooray!

I am also joining this with my recent realizations on my dead-end pursuit of perfection. Combining these thoughts, I see that it’s totally possibly for me to make what I want to see (write what I want to read, etc.), that I can keep pushing my projects forward, but that it’s okay that I’m experiencing all of this frustration and will-I-ever?-ness, because, well, ’tis the season.

I’m in creative hibernation, baby. And having dreams is not just rainbows and cotton candy. It’s a Frankenstein business. I’m sawing and sewing myself into reality here. It’s ugly and scary as hell.

Now I can be miserable in relative peace.

kevinmccallister-homealone-filthyanimal

 

Pursuit of Perfection

Nida Chowdhry, writer, blog, perfectionism, writer’s block, voice, voicelessness, silence, claim your voice

It amazes me (in a non-incredulous, knowing way) how many pieces I have written here that I did not publish.

I thought for the longest time that I don’t have what it takes, the proclivity for prolificness, if I may be annoying in my words. I thought I didn’t have what it takes to write the kind of things I like reading.

Looking at this page, I’ve realized it’s not that. It’s that I thought the page had a power over me, and I was afraid. I thought I was not worthy. I now understand why writers say you just need to show up and do the work. It’s not about the quality of your work, but just doing it, that makes one a writer.

There are so many things a person can say to us, but inside it is a puzzle, that needs to be solved, a lock that needs a key, a key we must find on our own. A person can give away their secret, but it’s learning the meaning behind it that takes so much work, and one’s own personal journey.

For so long, I have held myself back with an axe over my head, a burden on my shoulder. A burden to have a complete thought. To have figured it all out before I open my mouth.

As I sit back and look at what my life has revealed to me, what I have explored and gotten to know from it, I see that there is no such thing as a complete thought, a final answer.

My writing has always been a conversation with myself. A healing antidote… I relate to the phrase “suck out the poison.” For me, when things, words, thoughts, ideas, stay in me too long, when I suppress them, I am poisoned by myself, suffocated by my own ideas. I need to let it out, and let it be and do its own thing. In that way, I am very okay with being a vulnerable and imperfect being. I know that I am responsible for my actions, and the effects of my words. And I know also that I am a mirror for my own humanity.

I have been afraid that the things that I so hate about people are within me, and that means that if I am to reveal myself, I am to reveal hateable things, and thus I will be hated. I increasingly find that love is not like that. Love exists as a whole. Love embraces, accepts, appreciates, loves. And it requires a surrender, to even the things we don’t like about ourselves. To surrender and accept our fallibility. Our inevitable shortcomings.

I read a line in my own journal from 2016:

Sometimes we spend so long listening
We don’t realize we have a voice

Back from summer

A painting at The Met

I’m back from summer hiatus! After working essentially non-stop for a year-and-a-half, I took the summer off.

Much of my life after I graduated back in 2009 has been seasonal. This is something that took me many, many years – essentially until now – to stop feeling bad about and to appreciate. I’ve spent months on end, year-long periods working 60, 80, 90 hours a week, then poof, nothing, laying on my couch wondering what the heck I’m doing with my life. Because I’ve worked for non-profits and/or worked for free so much, I never really felt like I could say I was “taking a break” in this down-time. It would be more of a crash for me to be depressed during.

Well, this year I gifted myself a “summer hiatus.” A mandatory period of non-work. Like, seriously, no work allowed, and that included no “shop talk.”

I’m not mentioning this to invite any comparison. I know people working three jobs, working all-the-time, out of work, and not working by choice and circumstance. I’m sharing this because I don’t want to contribute to the idea that I’m always busy/working. And that I allowed myself to to take a break and not feel bad about it. And it was awesome.

Anyway, I’m back at my desk, but in a new way, after a summer of adventures.

Sincerely,

Nida

P.S. I’ve been feeling uber confined-nervous about posting any of my writing, and just as I had decided not to post this, I saw Kimothy Joy‘s latest Instagram post on a quote from Brene Brown:

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Totally.

Coming to terms with Fortnite

Fortnite-Shopping-Cart-966199

This is a tale in the vein of many tales before it; of people tolerating and/or hating Sunday night football and such things playing in their living room, while their significant other enjoys it.

The tale isn’t very long; it’s short.

And it’s that I now feign interest in Fortnite.

I can either avoid the living room while it’s played. Or grab a seat and watch the little doodad ride a shopping cart before the pink rays of darkness surround them.

There is some amusement to be found in watching another person be amused. Some love to be gained and bestowed in cheering on an avatar killing several other avatars, then robbing their logs and guns.

For what is life but short and sweet, and silly, too.

It doesn’t hurt to throw in a, “Wow!” “Really?” and “KILL THEM!!!!!!!!!!”

It works for basketball, too.

Is this real????


I often feel not real. Do you ever have those moments? I’ll be getting down on my knees to move a box and think, what are these arms? these legs? these wobbly limbs? are they really coming out of me? are they attached to me? what is me?(???) am I a humanoid? a robot processor mind attached to a series of images? What is all of this??? Sometimes (or once in a time) I’ll be in the middle of the ocean, looking at my hands, like. Is this real? Or is this a movie??? Am I real? Or am I someone else’s imagination? Am I my own imagination? Am I my ancestor’s imagination? Am I really my grandma??? Grandma, are you in there??? In… here?… is that you? Grandma?!?!?! WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!