Some days I’m not sure what I should write about here. This is my favorite place to write because it’s the space where I feel the least amount of pressure. And yet, just like with writing anywhere else, I can still get writer’s block. This morning as I sat, staring at the blank page of my laptop I opted for a trick which works for many creatives, I distracted myself with non-writerly things. As expected, it worked like a charm. While washing the dishes and completing other chores I decided, it’s report card time! After sixty-four days of blogging here it’s time to evaluate how I’m doing.
When I made the decision to start this blog, unlike my old blogs, I promised myself the writing I did here would be primarily for me. This would be the beginning of a new season, the season of becoming the REAL ME, the season of emerging as my truest self. So, let’s see how I’m doing. In the following topic areas I graded myself on a one to ten scale, with ten being the top score.
1. Purpose [8.5]
Have I accomplished what I set out to do with this blog? I used to obsess over the potential reactions of my blog reading audience, wondering constantly if something I wrote might offend, irritate, or alienate anyone reading. I used to also regularly compare myself to other bloggers. Ugh! I drove myself crazy. Like a dog chasing her tail, I would read other blogs, circle back to my own blog and beat myself up for not sounding more like other bloggers. I don’t do that anymore. But there’s still room for growth in this area. One of these days I want to be able to read different blogs without comparing myself to them and wondering if my blogging approach is all wrong. Currently, the way I win at this is by avoiding other blogs and all online social networks. But I can’t hide out forever. In the meantime, I am very proud of myself for saying fuck whenever I want, writing from my heart, showing vulnerability and also allowing my shadow side to enjoy the spotlight sometimes. For the first time, I am blogging just for me.
2. Growth [9.0]
Have I grown as a person since writing on this blog? Oh my, YES! With the exception of The Hubs, I used to perform for mostly everyone who knows me, putting my best foot forward and all that fuckery. It was exhausting! To be honest, the accelerated growth of my authentic self began the minute I decided to quit my job last year. As soon as I knew I was leaving I stopped being a contortionist, bending in odd angles so that co-workers felt unthreatened by me. All that forced smiling, speaking softly, creative flattery, laughing at unfunny quips— it was just plain tiring. Here’s the deal: when you live in a country where the color of your skin can still inspire fear or hostility among others who don’t look like you, and you work in an office where you’re the only black person, like me, you might go out of your way to convince the majority that you don’t bite. All that performing on my part curried very little favor. We were all polite and we generally all got along but I gave of myself more than I got back.
I turned fifty-one this year, I’m done with all that. And being able to write on my blog about all the bright and shady sides of myself has turned me into a whole new woman. I’m a better friend, a better wife, a better mother, a better daughter— I’m the most beautiful person I know. That may sound conceited, but it’s true. I have grown in leaps and bounds. Between being black in America and being abused in my childhood home, I was full of a lot of shame and self-loathing. I’m better nowadays, much better.
3. Development [8.5]
Has my writing improved? Yes! I read a LOT of books. It’s my way of studying at the feet of the masters and remaining in school without having to pay for more college courses. As many of the best writers in the literary world have advised, if you want to write well, you can not avoid reading; reading is essential to writing. Can I get better at writing? Always. Again, always room for improvement.
4. Selfies [8.0]
Am I comfortable with self-portraits? A couple of years back I blogged about wanting to take more selfies while I am still young enough to like my pictures. Back then I was still on Instagram but posting selfies was difficult for me given my low feelings of self-worth and all the shame I was carrying around. So quite often I would post headless selfies and partial face shots. Here on the blog I made self-portraits a top priority, as a constant reminder that I am worthy and I don’t need permission to love and appreciate my own image. I still post occasional pictures of my feet and headless shots, so there’s still room for growth here.
5. Confidence [7.5]
Has my confidence improved? The short answer is yes. This blog (along with daily meditation) is responsible for helping me to embrace my shadow self, the darker side of my personality. Writing here inspired me to expand my inner-life, and as a result I began reading more spiritual books and dedicated myself to frequent and consistent meditation. But the voices in my head— under the direction of my ego— have had free reign over me for decades, fueling emotions driven by fear. It’s been a raucus bitchfest-palooza in my head. Sometimes fun and funny, sometimes hateful and scary. The new management of my thinking is still finding her legs, but ego and bravado aren’t going down without a fight. Changing the way I think will take more time and patience. I don’t regret the life directions my mind has taken thus far, afterall, ego and bravado did commendable jobs in keeping me safe and productive all these years. But now it’s time for them to chill out and let me do things a new way. In the meantime, I still battle occasional feelings of fear and insecurity, and as much as I hate to admit it, there are still remnants of low self-worth.
6. Joy [9.0]
Do I feel more joy? Absolutely! During my active alcoholic days, when I was still imbibing vodka and colorful cocktails, I was often the life of the party. I have always enjoyed laughter and having a good time with friends. But once the alcohol was gone I felt lost for a few years. Yeah, I still had my humor but it felt like I had it less and life felt way less fun and a lot more serious. When I was still drinking I failed to notice how populated the world was with assholes. When I got sober I was all like, Oh fuck me, just go ahead and shoot me now, I can’t live among all these shitty people. But I learned to focus on the blessings in life, paid more attention to my family, and life’s many favors. I expanded in feelings of gratefulness. Oh sure, there are still days when I feel helpless and frustrated in the face of some awful realities of life. But those days do not rule me. Writing on this blog has given me a freedom I’ve never known and it is thrilling! I love life more than ever. I have more blessings than I can count.
7. Biggest Surprise
The biggest surprise I got from writing here is getting confirmation that I have angels helping me from the other side. I meditate and wait for inspiration. Half the time I have been in complete disagreement and/or resistance to the post ideas when they pop into my head, but I write them anyway. Many of the blog posts were written and published with hesitation because I could never tell what the point was or where the writing was supposed to lead. Trust me when I tell you, every post I wrote has taken me to deeper levels of understanding about myself and about the world we are all living in. I am seeing life more clearly than ever …. way beyond merely sober eyes. The deep beauty of life has been a breathtaking surprise. But the angels? They surprised me the most.
Was I too kind in grading my own blog? Maybe I was. But you know what else I’ve learned on this Becoming journey? I spent so many years being cruel to myself, I’m good with extending a little extra kindness in my own direction for a change.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking, so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
—The Shadow Effect, Marianne Williamson