Resisting Structure & Needing Structure

I always liked a nice example of parallel structure. While editing my fellow classmates’ work in writing workshops, this was something that always caught my eye. There was a neatness to it, but also the possibility of something surprising, or shocking, like a slant rhyme we are charmed by. Right now, the parallel in my life regarding structure is that I am resisting it while needing it too. Like so many adult tasks and obligations, structure serves a purpose, but inherently doesn’t feel “fun.”

After four years of English classes at Boston College, I thought I was ready to be on my own. In many ways. I was ready to break out of the structure of the classroom. I envisioned myself tapping on my keyboard late into the night, coffee in hand, New York City apartment. It was all very romantic. Then, in a few years time, I would return to the classroom. Fresh, exciting, provocative portfolio in hand. Work that I was proud of. That I had sunk my life, my teeth, into.

Instead, I find that the structure of the classroom has simply been replaced with the structure of the office. After 10 hours sitting in front of two computer monitors, shoulders slumped, organizing calendars for other people, it’s hard to see the life on the streets around you. It’s hard to see anything but frustration and exhaustion on the faces of your fellow commuters. When I get back to my too small apartment, all I want is Thai food and Netflix in bed. Maybe a glass of wine. Not to sit and structure my precious, and far too short, of an evening before it’s off to bed again.

But that is what has to be done. Otherwise, the art just doesn’t get made. Something in my soul tells me I have to write, I know that. I know that I am a better person when I am working and creating something. I know that it brings me energy, something I desperately need after standing in front of an industrial copy maker, making beige copies in a beige room of beige words I have not written, and no one will read. I need the energizing breath of a beginning. I need the difficult taxing middle, I need what sometimes feels like an end, like a putting to bed of a child you have been raising all day.

The excuses must go for the work to flow. Structure needs to be imposed for this all to get done. And after a long day in the office, it is hard to always be the adult. To worry about eating your vegetables, exercising enough, remembering to return phone calls, pay bills, be social. Do the right thing. But if I can look past the structure that I need to impose on myself to get this task going, then I can come to remember that it is not in fact just something else to tick off the to-do list. It is the work I care about in this life, it is the thing I want to leave behind me. It is vital to who I am, as romantic as I sound, I believe it. I really miss the way an assignment worked. Now it is time to be my own authority figure, imposing the structure I so badly need.

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