I once read this article written by some woman who happened to be my age who felt very comfortable in her skin, and she was open to criticism and disagreement because she felt comfortable with who she was. So comfortable, in fact, that she was bold enough to state this comfort on the internet.
Today I sit here in awe of that woman’s confidence. But then I realized that she was me yesterday. How quickly I lose her when things get rough. She has a broken internal GPS. She has trouble finding her way home when circumstances throw her off course.
I guess once upon a time I believed that security and confidence were a destination. A status you achieved when you had a certain number of life experiences and you had framed them in a particular productive manner. They were an achievement. Something to be striven for. Something that couldn’t be lost.
And the thing is that yesterday I felt them so strongly. I was sitting in this same chair at roughly the same time, using the same computer, and yet I feel like I was such a different person.
And I guess the problem is that in general I consider myself to be a sensitive person. This is a good thing, like when I am able to express empathy and really understand another person. But it’s also a bad thing because sometimes I feel like that armor that most people were born with bypassed me. Often, I feel like I am going out into the world completely naked and defenseless. And sometimes that sucks.
And I don’t know whether I’m a writer or not. I write. Almost every day. I write for myself and I write for others. I write for this blog and another, and I’m starting to get my work out even further. I don’t really write for money. Even if someone were to offer me a million dollars to write (honestly, feel free to do so,) I wouldn’t need to write anymore than I do now. Even if someone told me that this right now is the pinnacle of where my writing career would go, I would still write. Because I don’t write for outside reasons. I don’t write for praise or for influence or for attention or for really any other reason than that I simply have to. If I don’t write, my world doesn’t make sense. If I don’t write, all these thoughts get jumbled together inside my brain, and they make wrong turns and they bump into each other, and they get lost, and I end up on the couch, unable to move because the activity in my head is so very great that it silences any other aspects of my life that wish to manifest themselves.
I write because it’s the only way that I know how to be.
But unfortunately when you write and you publish it on the internet, other people comment. People are so very gracious here on this blog, and I appreciate that more than my words could express. But elsewhere on the web, there’s more anonymity, and anytime there’s anonymity, people become a bit more bold.
So I spent all day today reading critiques of my work by strangers on the internet. One person criticized my actual writing. Ouch, that hurt a bit. But oh well. I’m a writing teacher, and I know that all writing can be improved, and while I didn’t necessarily agree with her, I do have it in my mind to reread her comment and my article in a couple of weeks once I gain some distance and see if she has some validity to her point, and if she does, I’ll take note of it and make changes in the future.
But most people didn’t like what I had to say. And that’s where the hard part comes in.
See I have an almost compulsive need for authenticity. When it comes to something I really care about, I can’t help but be anything but authentic. I can’t hide. It makes me feel broken and it makes me feel like my contribution is tainted. And so when I write, I write about what matters most to me. About what can make my heart sing and what can make my heart bleed. And that is almost always my parenting. And so when people disagree with that, when they claim I am making choices that limit my children… well that really sucks.
And so that’s where I find myself.
I want to develop a shell, an armor to protect myself from the world, but if I protect myself from that world, can I really enter into it and embrace it enough to write about it? Can’t we protect ourselves so much that we fail to experience half of the gifts we have been given?
For 36 years, I have pleaded with God for some armor and for 36 years, I have refused to put any on. And I guess I’m not about to change now. But I guess I won’t stop praying that one day the piercings will hurt less.
Bless you all, and I hope you have a wonderful week ahead of you.
Your overly sensitive and melodramatic blogger friend.