When I started writing this blog, it never occurred to me that people would read it. I mean, I figured someone would read it, but these few someones were far off figures in a distant somewhere. People who I didn’t know and who had no idea who I really was.
This is silly of course, because I’m not even close to famous and so the people who read what I write are almost exclusively made up of people who actually know me. People who I grew up with, work with, see at parties. People who I’ve been best friends with for years, people who are family.
I recently started trying to put myself out there more- publishing on Instagram and Facebook- and people started texting me, telling me that they’d read what I wrote. And that’s when it hit me: people can see me. Sometimes I’ll be hanging out with someone, start to wonder if they’ve read anything, and become incredibly self-conscious. It’s like the scene in the movie when the protagonist has to walk through a room full of people who just learned their secret- when it’s a really good movie, you can feel the vulnerability emanating from the screen. Except, in this case, I am the one who is spilling all of my own skeletons.
Now, don’t get my wrong, I know that there are still very few people who read my blog, and even fewer who really care about what’s happening in my life. But the fact of the matter is, people know far more about me than I know about most of them.
Initially, this made me want to shut down and dilute what I wrote. I wasn’t sure I wanted people to be able to look at me and know what was happening in my head. I wasn’t sure I was ready to worry about the judgment that might come, ready for the criticism about my life, my views, or worst of all, my writing. It crossed my mind that perhaps I should write “how to’s” or short stories. That maybe I should stop writing about myself, and for God’s sake, stop writing such vulnerable, sappy, shit about my life.
But even though I try to fight it and wish I had the writing style of all the great writers I read all the time, that’s not who I am as a writer. I write what I know, and what I know is me. What I know and am interested in is emotions, how people work, the intricacies and unfolding of life. I write to get reflections out of my head, write to express that which often eludes me in speech. I write because it is how I express who I am.
When I don’t write, I feel contained; contained in a way only those who have the need to create might understand. Contained as if something is dying to get out, to be expressed, and stifling it feels suffocating. So this is what I often have to remember when I’m writing. I am never doing it for anyone else. If no one ever reads what I’m writing, I’m going to keep doing it anyway. If millions of people read what I’m writing, I’m going to keep doing it anyway.
This has all been a great lesson in re-learning something someone told me long ago- Other’s opinions of you are none of your business. Their thoughts, judgments, even whispers about you, are none of your damn business.
When you alter yourself based on the fear of being disliked or judged, you lose who you are. And who you are is a specific constellation of energy that will never be expressed in this way again, which means you have something uniquely valuable to offer that no one else does. You have no idea who out there might need what only you have to give.