It’s barely 7 am and I’ve already watched four Youtube videos this morning. The first three were videos on spreadsheets and data analysis. The fourth inspired this post.
The fourth video was a talk by Brene Brown (her books changed my life). I thought I already saw all of her Youtube videos, but I realize I missed this talk she gave on vulnerability at a university campus earlier this year. I clicked on the video, fully expecting to listen for no more than three minutes and ended up watching the whole thing. I had no idea it would lead me to writing here today.
Listen, Self, I don’t know how we got off track but I’m here to set the record straight.
Oh yeah, sure, it may look like I’ve been having a blast because life has been so busy and I am living my writing dream and I am meeting a bunch of new people and traveling to different cities, collecting information to write a book. Yes, it has been fun and sometimes exciting too. But it has also been physically and emotionally taxing. I’ve been battling my hot-button triggers around FEAR, fighting through feelings of low self-worth, insecurity, and rejection.
In conducting research for this book project I’m working on, the triggers have been unavoidable. Sometimes I have walked away from a meet-up feeling like an idiot because after giving my spiel they appeared to be smirking (likely my imagination) or someone said, Not interested or someone else said, I don’t have time or some other person walked away before I could finish a sentence. And even though there are plenty of willing people who have taken the time to cooperate, enthuse and encourage, my inner-Eeyore and Negative Nancy voices take pleasure in underscoring the rejectors in the crowd.
And you know what has occurred to me on more than one occasion? Hide.The.Blog. I thought, maybe I should remove the website address for this blog from my business card, scratch it out and order new ones. But each time I had that thought, my inner-lion roared: Absolutely Not! You will not be ashamed of your openness, Maria. You will stand in your authentic place. And then a smaller inner-voice whispers, Ok fine, but what if …. And I carry on.
I forgot what it was like to be a reporter, to approach strangers for research, to rely on a stranger’s beneficence. I forgot how vulnerable you can feel, how you have to constantly talk yourself into approaching, how courage is something you must keep regenerating; I forgot the way courage can scamper in retreat at the appearance of a frown, leaving you to approach regardless because you’ve locked eyes with someone too long to turn away without looking foolish (or stalkerish). Ugh! I forgot about all of it.
Writing is solitary work. And for an introvert like me that is usually a good thing. But there are days, like the one I had just yesterday, when even though I’m completing tasks, ticking them off the list and feeling accomplished, melancholy can still sneak up on you. Spending so many hours alone, for so many consecutive days, lonely feelings can surround me, sweeping unexpectedly in like a heavy fog.
By mid-afternoon, when the writing work was done I had to find something to do and find it quick. I had to keep moving as a way to trick myself into getting out of my own head. So I rearranged my closet and organized my drawers. I know, crazy. But it distracted me enough to kill time and avoid a pity-party about everything that I might be doing wrong in my life right now.
Yes, I am over-exposed here on the blog. And sure, some may come here and decide against giving me the time of day as a writer because what is all this self-aggrandizing, navel-gazing poppycock (I wanted to say bullfuckery, but I’m trying to be nice). Do I have doubts about finding and keeping an audience for my writing? Of course I do. Might some of my approaches be wrong? Maybe. Am I as knowledgeable as I should be on the topic of the work in progress? Probably not. Is it even a good idea to be writing all this down for public consumption? Again, probably not.
The thing is, when I considered hiding this blog, my inner-lion roared a firm no. My inner-lion is usually pretty quiet. As a matter of fact, my inner-lion doesn’t usually show up unless something traumatic or dangerous is going on. So even though I am riddled with doubting thoughts, I’m going to listen to the lion on this one.
Clearly, it was no accident finding Brene’s video on vulnerability this morning. I’m not going to hide who I am to up my street cred as a writer, that’s a little too close to Shame for my comfort. I’m not going to start lying all over again, be it by commission or omission. The only way I know to write well is to write from my heart. Focusing primarily on everything that’s going well in my writing life feels fantastic, sure. But the actual learning tends to happen when I’m being honest with myself about the hard parts, the less shiny and less flattering aspects of how I’m getting the work done.
You may not have signed up for a hero’s journey, but the second you fell down, got your butt kicked, suffered a disappointment, screwed up, or felt your heart break, it started.
You either walk into your story and own your truth, or you live outside of your story, hustling for your worthiness.