On shyness and our business

Can one be cripplingly socially anxious and still be a writer today? To me, it’s like outfits. Some days you are in track pants and a tshirt, which is what you enjoy most, and other days you put on the sequinned jacket and go out to be fabulous. That said, the sequinned jacket has a super-short lifespan on my back, while the T could be worn forever. Maybe “outfits” isn’t the right word. Maybe “costumes” is better. Time among other writers for me is mostly spent playing a character: Generally Affable Guy You Might Enjoy a Beer With. It allows me to overcome any self-doubt and restraint until I get home. After that I spend hours doubting. Then I get back into my tshirt and am ready to make some art.

I read somewhere that to be an artist you have to have an ego, to consider your work worthy of being considered art, but I can’t reread anything I’ve written, let alone published, and I’m uncomfortable imposing or promoting myself. I didn’t shirk traditional 9-5 jobs because I believed in my writing, but because it is one of the only places where I am taken seriously, where I can shed my Gen Z age and be an angry Asian woman instead of the stereotypical shy Asian girl. I can pitch a dissenting op-ed and write with an authorial voice, and my editors and readers won’t know that I also enjoy making TikToks with my little sister, or that my voice is actually soft and low and I once chose to drop a full letter grade in a class rather than do a solo presentation.

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