I wrote a few weeks ago that I was having difficulty with the idea of blogging. I was letting all of the negative comments get to me. Some of these comments were written, but most of them never actually existed out there in the wild. They were inside me, in my head. They were the criticisms that I assumed people were silently thinking about me in their heads.
It’s hard to counter invisible made up criticisms. After all, they could be saying anything!
I started thing blog about five years ago I believe. I wasn’t exactly sure why I was blogging. I’ve just always felt a call to write (literally from my earliest days,) and I felt that maybe it was time I listened. I didn’t know if anyone would read it. I didn’t know why anyone would possible want to read it, and I felt rather foolish.
But still I started.
In the beginning, I wrote about random things. I tried to write daily. I tried networking with other bloggers, and I tried doing all of their challenges and tried getting immersed in the blogosphere.
Most of it felt forced. Besides the writing, I didn’t enjoy it much. And it reminded me of why I quit my job in advertising all of those years ago — I hate selling stuff to people, most especially my own self.
But luckily I kept at it.
Well, I can’t really say I kept at it because that implies some sort of conscious choice. Really I kept writing because it’s what I do. And when I don’t do it, I don’t work well. My brain doesn’t work well, my heart doesn’t work well, and my life doesn’t work well.
I don’t write because I think I have something that the world needs to hear. I write, quite frankly, because I have things I need to say.
As I continued on this journey, I started to realize that writing was helping me to become me.
I have a very odd version of germophobia – I don’t worry about getting people sick or washing germs from myself. I worry about infecting others with invisible germs. Both actual germs as well as metaphorical ones.
In short, left to my own devices, I would spend my days trying not to touch the world. Trying to make sure that none of me gets out there because surely any part of me touching the world would just taint it, infect it, make it less than.
You can probably see then how writing is the exact opposite of this. Not only am I being in the world, but I am pushing myself out into the world. And not just my physical presence, but the essence of me, who I am. What I think and what I aspire to me.
I am taking the single most authentic pieces of myself and I am sending them out there.
And I’m hoping people read them.
Maybe that’s the craziest part.
The great thing about stepping out of your comfort zone, however, is that the more you take the risks, the more you realize that you were meant for those risks. Taking the risks doesn’t take something away from you — it moves you closer to who you are and what you were meant to offer the world.
There have been some failures while writing. I’ve written things that make me cringe afterwards. I tried to enter the inner circle of blogging communities only to realize that either they didn’t like me or there wasn’t any room for anyone else.
But there have also been successes. I’ve had some pieces be read by over ten thousand people, and I’ve had the opportunity to write for publications that have inspired me over the years and that have made me want to grow.
And I’ve had people tell me I’ve helped them. I’ve had people tell me I’ve given them different perspectives. I’ve had people tell me that they see themselves in my writing. I’ve had people tell me that I make their journeys less lonely. And I had a man once tell me that he decided not to commit suicide one night because of something I wrote.
I’m not writing all of this to brag. I’m not writing this because I think highly of myself or what I do. (If you know me, you know it’s more accurately the opposite of that.)
I’m writing it to remind myself — writing might be emotionally hard. It’s psychologically risky. It’s emotionally risky. And yet, it’s important.
I try to hide those things. I tell myself, who am I to write my ideas? Who am I to make myself heard?
But then the other side chimes in and says, “but who am I not to?” Who am I to take the one thing in the entire world that seems to come easily to me and hide it out of fear?
We all have gifts and we all have parts of ourselves that we are meant to share with the world. And there’s nothing scarier than actually sharing these parts of ourselves.
But what if we all abstained for that reason? What if we all took our passions and hid them? If no one let themselves and their lights shine?
What a dark and dreary and dismal place this world would be!
And so as I end this rambling, rather self-indulgent blog post, I ask you all – what is it that you excel at? What comes easily for you? What makes your heart sing? What makes you feel alive and alert and inspired?
And how can you take that and shine it throughout the world? Or at least throughout your own world?
I’ll always wonder if I’m good enough. If I’m making a fool of myself. If I should just keep my words to myself. And I can think of probably a dozen reasons why all that negativity is true. But in my heart, I know that this is what I was meant to do even if it only reaches one other soul.
I’m not going to hide myself. I made that promise to myself a couple of years ago, and I guess it’s time to live up to that challenge.
Even when it’s hard. Even when it’s scary. And even if I really don’t feel up to the challenge.
And by the way, these words are brought to you by CS Lewis’s Screwtape Letters and Matthew Kelly’s Resisting Happiness. I’ve been reading them over the past couple of weeks, and they have helped me find the courage to do what it is that I want to do.