View this post on Instagram
What would it feel like if people listened to what you had to say?
Would that scare you?
For some people, making themselves heard comes naturally. For others, the anxiety of speaking one’s mind can be paralyzing.
By the time I was in high school, I knew my reserved nature was an obstacle I could not seem to overcome. It resulted from many things—poor social skills, anxiety, and negative experiences that had only reinforced my reticence. My ideas and creativity lived deep inside me, and few people were privy to them. At home, I filled every and Five-star notebook I could get my hands on with my stories and drawings. I journaled about my experiences almost every day, from elementary school to the present.
At school, I was another person. I was terrified to raise my hand in class. My essays always received high marks, but the stories I turned in were nothing like those I wrote for myself. I protected myself with endless people-pleasing. Somewhere along the line, I had internalized the idea that the world did not want what I had to offer. It has been a life’s work to unlearn those fears.
My story is hardly unique, especially among introverted people. For so many of us, our rich inner lives were a place of escape when the outside world seemed less than accepting. For a creative person, it can be a rich and fascinating place indeed.
All the same, why would someone like me, who spent so much of her adolescence shrinking herself to avoid being seen and heard, want to become a writer?
Writing is an expression of vulnerability. It means putting your thoughts and yourself out there for others to scrutinize. In the internet age, it means polishing your online presence and profile picture to a mirror shine, promoting yourself like a used-car salesperson.
There is no hiding behind your words. Your words are yourself. And that is precisely the reason why I must write.
I write to crystalize my thoughts. I write because I have never in my life managed to stop writing. And now, I write to engage with others and the world. It’s time to find my voice. The act of expressing myself is a gesture of courage and faith in the person I am becoming.
I tip my hat to Amanda Gorman for this insightful piece of advice:
“I think if I could go back in time and give myself a message, it would be to reiterate that my value as an artist doesn’t come from how much I create. I think that mindset is yoked to capitalism. Being an artist is about how and why you touch people’s lives, even if it’s one person. Even if that’s yourself, in the process of art-making.”
If I can touch one person’s life through my writing, it is meaningful. If I never earn a cent from my writing, it is valuable nonetheless. Self-expression is a practice of courage and vulnerability, and it is worth it.
So, why do you write?