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The art of writing is both an escape and a way to connect with the world. My attraction to writing has taken many different shapes throughout my life. Through it all, one truth always remains the same: the written word is a beautiful thing. I communicate much better on paper. When I am speaking in front of a crowd (or, let’s be honest, even just amongst friends), I let my insecurities edit what I say. While writing, I’m free to say what I’m truly feeling and I liberate that uncertain little girl that hides inside of me. Silencing the negative thoughts and allowing my words to flow on paper is a beautiful experience.
Helping others find their voices
That freedom has always been an oasis for me. It was an obvious choice to become a writing instructor. I love that I get to guide others towards finding that same passion. Assisting other people in finding their voice is a gift. Every student has something beautiful blossoming inside them, just waiting to escape. I feel blessed to be the one to help them encourage it to bloom. Every day I reassure my students that what they have is worth saying, and stressing the importance of doing so with confidence. I hate when a student approaches a presentation or a conference negatively. They first announce “this is going to suck,” or “I really didn’t know what I was doing.” Have some confidence, I tell them! Take pride in your work, and even if you doubt yourself, don’t announce it to the world! Go in with your chin up and allow your critics to make their own decisions about what you have produced. You may be pleasantly surprised to find they think you are amazing.
Do what I say, not what I do
Of course, we all know the old adage “do what I say, not what I do.” The creation of this blog has been an eye opening experience for me. It has renewed my passion for writing, and I love having a reason to actually sit down and put thoughts on paper. However, I’ve also discovered deeply rooted fears that I didn’t even know I had. I am petrified that I will put this piece of me out into the world and no one will like it. What if I open up the deepest parts of myself and receive nothing but rejection and criticism in return? Being a writer has always been my life’s goal; what if it turns out that no one cares what I have to say?
Our deepest desires are the most frightening
The truth is this: the things that are our hearts’ deepest desires are the very things that frighten us the most. I made my husband wait six months before I could even admit that we were in a relationship. For six months we spent every weekend together, cooking dinners, attending weddings and family events, raising my son together, but I could not call us a couple. Having just escaped a disastrous relationship, my self-esteem was nonexistence and while he was exactly what I needed to regain my sense of self, the thought of losing him was too terrifying. I spent months refusing to embrace the possibility of a relationship. There is a sad sense of safety in cowardice. If I never put myself out there, I never have to face rejection and accept my own failure.
This realization has caused me to look at those students that say “this sucks” a little differently. I always assumed that disclaimer came from the kids that waited until the last minute and failed to put forth their best efforts. But what if that’s not the case? What if these are the kids that care the most? Perhaps the students that are attempting to play it off like they are completely ambivalent to the assignment are really just trying to brace themselves for rejection? If they can convince me (and themselves) that they don’t care, they won’t have to face the reality that their best efforts just aren’t good enough.
Close your eyes and leap
Life is not about playing it safe. Rejection and failure might sting, but I’d much rather face that burn than never truly live. I will launch this blog, and I will accept that not everyone will like it. My topics won’t interest some, my writing will bore others; I learned long ago that you cannot please everyone and there will always be critics. But I refuse to live my life crippled by fear. In taking this risk in spite of the possible rejection, I am taking a stand against self-doubt and embracing my own gifts. How can I encourage my students to do that if I am not willing to do it myself? With my new incite into those self-deprecating introductions, I hope to guide my students through the self-doubt to the other side, to a world where there is freedom in expressing your gifts.