When I was younger, I lived my life in expectation of the person I would someday become.
Someday I would gain better control of my mouth so I didn’t make comments that sound stupid.
Someday I would no longer feel like an awkward ugly ducking and would transform into a beautiful swan.
Someday I would be so accomplished that people who had hurt or discouraged me would say, “I know her.”
As I grew older, I was no longer concerned with such somedays. Others might attribute the change to the natural process of aging or to the fact I grew more comfortable in my own skin. Maybe they are right.
Those somedays I’d imagined were about what other people thought of me rather than the type of person I was capable of becoming.
I wish I could say I no longer worry about what people think of me or that my intentions are always humble and selfless, but I can’t. I simply traded my somedays for the immediate gratification of writing.
Writing provides an opportunity to share my thoughts without interruption or disagreement. Writing allows me to arrange and rearrange words like a florists puts together a beautiful bouquet or a musician composes a haunting melody. And writing offers me a stage on which I am the star. In other words, writing lets me share the best parts of myself in a venue and in a manner that I choose.
That makes me feel good about myself and helps the somedays disappear. Even though people tell me I am simply using a God-given gift to share information or to make people think or to entertain, I know that’s only partly true.
I also write so people better understand me. I write because people read what I say and give me attention. I write because it provides a way to share pent-up emotions and frustrations. And I write because I simply enjoy the process the way some people enjoy cooking or making crafts.
In other words, I write because I am selfish.
But if my selfish acts also encourage others to thinks differently or to smile a bit, I’m not going to feel guilty.
Instead I’m going to keep on writing while the wishful somedays fade into my distant past.
I’ve heard people say that writing is like going naked in public. If you write from the heart and are completely truthful, you are also completely exposing yourself. And even though my husband sometimes jokes that I have nudist tendencies, I really don’t.
Exposing my most private thoughts and experiences is incredibly scary. And yet, I still feel compelled to do so.
My need doesn’t come from my ego but rather from my heart. I have a deep-seated desire to make people think.
I won’t lie. Sometimes I fear how my words will be interpreted or that some people will twist them to meet their own needs. And sometimes they do. But, instead of worrying about the critics, I try to focus on all the people who express their appreciation that I am speaking up. And, ever once in a while, the power of my own voice surprises me.
Yesterday, I was talking to Angela, the mother of one of my son’s former classmates. She asked how Shepherd likes attending a brand new (as in newly constructed) high school.
I said he’s very happy, but that there are challenges in trying to establish all new programs, including music and sports. We joked about the football team, and I asked if she had seen a letter to the editor in our local newspaper.
In it, a parent complained that students in the northern end of the county got a brand new school when the students at Martinsburg High School should have one. Her reasoning was that the Martinsburg students deserve a new school because of their championship football and basketball teams.
Angela and I laughed about priorities, but then she said something that took me off guard.
“You are such a good writer, you should write a letter in response.”
I wasn’t just surprised that she knows I write. I was surprised that she thought my words are powerful enough to make a difference.
Instead of acknowledging those thoughts, I simply laughed and said, “That wouldn’t be worth the time.”
She agreed, and our conversation drifted. But my own words stayed with me.
I hadn’t said that writing such a letter wouldn’t be worth my time, I’d said the time. At some point during my journey as a writer, I stopped thinking about my blog as an individual activity and one that involves a community – other writers, readers, friends and colleagues. And in doing so, I also realized I’m not as alone or exposed as I felt when I first started writing.
And for that, I am very grateful.