It’s better to burn than to fade away, they say.

I wanted to begin this by being blunt, by saying outright what I’m feeling with no flourish or skirting around – but when I tried that, I just couldn’t phrase it right. So let’s take a less direct approach and see where we end up (hey, anything to procrastinate going to work on my dissertation).

I’ve been feeling insecure for a long time, but especially so recently. I’ve written before about how I’m finding it harder and harder to enjoy creatively writing, and how I didn’t even think I’d get this far, and all that jazz.

When I say ‘insecure’, though, that really doesn’t feel like a strong enough word. At the moment, I feel so loosely held together that a stiff breeze could probably tear me apart. Everything I do, everything I think I am, is plagued with doubt and uncertainty, from the things I enjoy to the very bones of my identity.

I’ve never really been able to answer the question ‘tell us about yourself’ without drawing a blank, but I’m feeling that now more than ever. If someone I didn’t know asked me that, right now, I wouldn’t have an answer because I don’t feel like there is anything there. It’s as though someone has taken a knife to my brain and scooped out everything except the most basic functionality (and even that doesn’t always work). I don’t feel like I even have a personality or distinguishable traits or anything apart from ‘This is Brendon, he’s a student and he has bright hair’.

Even my gender – holy fuck, my gender. I openly and proudly identify as genderfluid: someone whose gender fluctuates across the spectrum. Most of the time, my gender sits at the masculine end of things. I prefer to be acknowledged as male over female, and I’m thinking of starting transitioning after university’s done to make that possible. But even that – even that can derail any sense of stability I have, because as soon as it wanders back to the feminine end, I feel like I’ve been faking all along. Even though seeing people transition makes something hopeful bloom in me, even though I look at my chest and wish it was flat, even though I can feel myself shrivel when I’m misgendered –

Everything. Everything is doubt and fear and it’s wrung me out. I feel like there’s nothing inside of me but dust and ash.

I used to be a good writer. I used to be a great writer. Writing was the one thing I was sure I could do, no matter what. And here I am now, after three years of studying it at university, thinking I was studying the one thing I loved most of all – and all I’ve learned is that even that spark has fizzled out. That I can do it and get decent grades, sure, because I’ve practised it enough that I know what works, but it feels like trying to swim through the clay I used to be able to mould.

And that’s probably the thing that hurts the most, because writing is – was – my lifeblood. To have that taken away feels like having my fucking core ripped out. My boyfriend has recently started dabbling in poetry, and he’s so fucking good at it – he’s so clever with words, with rhymes, with meaning. And I’m so proud of him, and so happy that he’s uncovering this talent.

But, though I couldn’t ever tell him directly because it’s not his fault, it also twists the knife that has ‘you used to do that, and now you can’t’ engraved in the blade just that little bit further.

The thing is … my life isn’t bad. It’s not! I have good friends, the best boyfriend, a secure living situation, and I’m about to graduate from university. I shouldn’t be bitching like this. I shouldn’t even be feeling like this.

But I’ve been waiting for it to pass for so long, and it just won’t budge.

I didn’t get to burn out. I’ve faded away. And I would’ve taken the fire every time.


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