I’ve been wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet…
So anyway, I haven’t written publicly for a really long time.
(My last post was way back in August – you can read it here. It’s still good)
There are a lot of elements at play here.
There is the ever-present perfectionism, yes. I have pages and pages of things sitting here in my draft posts.
There are raw thoughts I have quickly punched out when the moment is right, there are prose pieces not-quite-finished, ideas not fully-formed, nothing resolved. There are a lot of poems. Most of them are likely very shit. There are painful truths which I’m just not comfortable sharing with a wider audience, tucked away in notebooks for my own catharsis. (But I never wanted this space to simply be a notebook anyway. That was never the main purpose).
There is also fear. Fear of not being good enough (perfectionism again). Fear of being wrong (perfectionism again).
But there are Two Big Things that have stopped me from writing regularly here over the last 18 months or so: Fear of conflict, and fear of misunderstanding.
Because my writing is almost an organic extension of who I am (it’s almost literally my heart on the page here, guys! Maybe that’s only something other INFJs can understand – where y’all at in my life?) when what I say causes conflict – or worse – misunderstanding, it’s like someone has taken a dagger straight to my chest (metaphor alert).
And so I’ve spent a lot of time pondering my motivations for blogging here. Am I really willing to put what is essentially a part of myself out here on the big bad internet? Am I okay with that kind of vulnerability? Am I willing to live that dangerously, in the knowledge that there will be conflict and misunderstanding, and that – as a natural peacekeeper – it’s not necessarily my responsibility to tidy everything up and wrap it in a nice bow? (And before you ask why anything I write would lead to conflict and misunderstanding… have you met The Internet?).
I’ve often pondered whether writing here is something I’m doing for myself, or something I am doing for other people (neither of which is inherently bad). I write to make sense of my world, and in a way I write to help other people make sense of theirs (not everyone relates to what I write, some do, so this is for you). But mostly I think a lot of this pondering has been about getting my own ego out of the way. When you write things on the internet there is always ego at play… it gets stroked, and it sure as hell gets bashed. I need to be okay with both of those realities, and not let the bashing or the stroking get the better of me or define me. Self-flagellation is no place to write from, but neither is pride. I have done both on many occasions. Part of being a writer is holding the praise and criticism as lightly as each other.
A big part of my blogging journey so far has been in coming to terms with doubts and questions, but more than that – learning to embrace doubt and mystery as part of a vibrant and constantly-evolving faith. I feel like I have learned more about myself, my place in the universe, and the divine, in the last three years than I did in the 30 years prior. Of course that just may be the natural way of things once one reaches the age of 30 – I guess only time will teach me that (I would be incredibly naive to think that I have arrived at 32 and a half, or ever). But I have learned that when I am honest about what I am struggling through or wrestling with, or when I share what is on my heart, or when I am truthful about the kinds theologies I can no longer hold to… I have learned that that place is one of vulnerability, and not everybody is equipped to care for me in that space (which is fine, by the way – I don’t like a fuss, and I certainly don’t want everybody rushing my way to ‘help’). I have learned that some people won’t like my vulnerability, and that some will see my questions as dangerous, and I have to be okay with that (if I ever want to sleep). (I have learned that I use parentheses way too much).
So, then – the main question I have been asking myself is this…
What is the merit of wrestling with questions, or baring parts of my soul in a public forum? (I mean, if the 14 people who read this blog are considered ‘the public’). I’ve had to ask myself if this is beneficial for other people? Is it beneficial for me?
It is certainly beneficial for me personally to write things down. It’s one of the only ways I can ‘get out of my head’ and make some sense of the whole-lotta-mess that is often going on ‘up here’. But why publicly? I’ve been asking myself… do I write here out of some misplaced sense of freedom (“I can think this and say that and you can’t stop me!”) (which is true – by the way – you can’t) or do I truly believe that being candid here is a form of liberation in itself? (It is, even when no ones reads or comments). If I am writing just for me and my own soul-care, then why press publish in the first place?
I think my conclusion is this… I must believe that I have something valuable to say to those within my circles that hasn’t been said before, or at least hasn’t been said the way that I would say it. I must believe that my honesty and vulnerability can open a door for others that might otherwise have remained tightly shut. I must believe – in the very least – that I will open doors for myself, and that through the habit and ritual of writing, I will become a healthier, more loving, open and light-shining version of myself. On the other hand I must also believe that my writing may be of little consequence to anyone else but myself, and that if I have become braver, stronger, softer, brighter because of it, then that is everything.
I am reminded of a wonderful quote from American author and teacher, Marianne Williamson. It is one that I have seen and read so many times that it had kind of lost its potency until now, until this moment when it means everything:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love
I think I have shrunk away from this space here out of an over-emphasis on other peoples feelings, other peoples opinions, other peoples beliefs. But you know what? This is my space, and this is my voice (and quite frankly if you don’t like that, what the hell are you doing here, bruh?) And, as usual (and as my original intention behind starting this whole blogging shebang was anyway) I am giving myself equal permission to be both wrong AND amazing. I’ve gotta give myself permission to write very poorly constructed things that are incoherent to all but myself, AND I have to give myself permission to write things that will quite possibly be a turning point in someone else’s life. I am giving myself permission to let my words go, and not chase after them, not explaining them, not apologising for them. My words are me, and I need to let them BE, in whatever which-way they land.
So, I’m going to be here, waving my little light, and you can come and wave yours,too, if you like, and maybe together we’ll shine even brighter.
I hope so.