The biggest challenge of writing is not necessarily the exercise of crafting words and paragraphs and a flow that is pleasing and engaging. The hard part is the ideas. Because to write something, there is a sense of permanence that does not exist with spoken words. When you write something there is a feeling of finality, that you have made up your mind, at least enough to mark it in a way where others will read it and know your thoughts, at least the ones you’ve chosen to share.
That appeals to me because, as someone who has struggled with feelings of loneliness throughout my life, sharing my thoughts, even with a stranger, is an act that brings me closer to other human beings in this world, and makes me feel less alone.
This also terrifies me, because I am the type of person who thinks deeply about topics and likes to look at topics from different perspectives and angles. Even on topics that I am fairly certain I understand well enough to write about, there is always a small voice in my head that tells me, I could be completely wrong. There could be a nuance to this that I have never considered. And when this is coupled with perhaps and over-sensitivity to what others think of me, I wince to think how others might perceive based on a single blog post, based on a single idea I have expressed.
I think it is a very human desire to want to be loved or at least liked by most. With all of my heart, I want to reach through the screen with my words and say, Please! If I have missed something important, tell me! I care about this to the point that, sometimes, I’m not even sure how I feel about an issue, because I have become overwhelmed by the voices and ideas of others.
Part of maturing as a human being is, I think, the ability to speak your heart anyway, to speak from your experience and intuition, knowing full well that you will never have all the knowledge or all the viewpoints or all the understanding. Maturity is choosing to share, knowing full well that your words may still be rejected, disliked, or dismissed by some.
Some people may even err on the side of “no f***s given”, writing any thought they have with no thought at all of how their words may affect others. I don’t think this is quite right either. I think there is wisdom in approaching every task with some humility, always ready to listen and learn from others.
But I don’t think it’s good or right either to say absolutely nothing, for fear of being wrong or offending others. All of this is connected to maintaining a healthy level of vulnerability. I think Brené Brown said it well, in an interview about her TED talk on that very subject:
For people to look at other folks who are trying to come up and share their work with the world, or their art, their ideas, their writing, their poetry, whatever, and say “You can’t care what other people think” is bullshit. When you lose your capacity to care what other people think, you’ve lost your ability to connect. But when you’re defined by it, you’ve lost your ability to be vulnerable. That tightrope is what my talk is about, and I think that balance bar we carry is shame resilience. I think it’s the thing that keeps us steady. If we can understand that: I’m not the best comment, I’m not the best accolade I’ve received, and I’m not the worst. This is my work.
So, while I feel this short reflection might be a bit silly, and perhaps even unnecessary, I have decided to share it, because this is what I am thinking about today, and this is what I feel like writing about. I can only hope that the more I write, the more I will be able to distinguish my own voice from others.