Putting This Out There

Photo by Susan Isaacs, taken on the Iowa City Literary Walk, Iowa.

Well, that lasted about as long as I expected it would. I’m barely a month into my new commitment to this blog, and I’ve already missed two consecutive Saturday posts — Saturday being the day I post my most reflective writing of the week, thus, the most vulnerable work to share. Am I disappointed in myself? Sure, but as it is not an unexpected development, I’m prepared to work through this rough patch, rather than abandoning the whole enterprise as a failure as would have been my response not-so-long ago.

One of my primary purposes in maintaining this blog is to motivate myself to write, which I know is beneficial for me, though my inner critic tries mightily to resist it. Thinking about it now, I’m not even sure what that inner voice is. I originally wrote “instinct” instead of “inner critic,” but realized, finally, that it is my instinct that tells me to write, or I wouldn’t keep coming back to it as I have over these last forty years.

There is an inner voice of some kind, though, that believes it is protecting me by encouraging self-doubt and distraction by any means rather than writing. As I said, writing is a scary and vulnerable proposition. Putting words on a page is physical evidence of my inner turmoil. It exposes who I am to whoever reads the words — even if no one ever sees them but me.

That which I write I have to face and consider for a few minutes, at least. But when I do finally write, I realize that facing myself exposed on a page actually brings relief. It turns out that all the energy I put into not writing feels like hiding, and that fear of being exposed causes anxiety, which tells me not to write. I have to remind myself that revealing these vulnerable parts of myself brings relief.

Choosing to be vulnerable is an act of faith — that others won’t hurt me with their responses and that I am resilient enough to survive criticism when it does happen. That leap of faith seems to be over a slowly shrinking chasm, lately, and it’s getting easier to make. Writing is beginning to feel less fraught with anxiety than hiding behind a blank page feels. It took me less than two weeks to get back to it this time, not two years as it has before.

Another reason I write this blog is that I am far from the only one who struggles with letting the world see who God created them to be. It is scary to be ourselves because there is only one of each of us. I am the only one who can do what it is that God created me for — and only you can be the person for the world who God created you to be. In that regard, there are no models to follow. Trying to be too much like anyone else, virtuous as their example may be, never feels quite true or right.

But it can be challenging to trust ourselves and our world enough to take a chance and be who we are — warts and all. I’m learning that I’m resilient, though, and I know that you are, too — much more than you believe you are. So far, you and I have both survived the crappiest days of our lives, and that’s pretty freaking impressive. We can handle anything anyone has to say after that.

Our gifts to the world are our uniqueness, our quirkiness, the things that make us weird and different, and make us feel like outsiders. The blemishes and hurts we try to hide are what the world needs from us. That’s how we develop our humanity and compassion.

I’m trying to convince myself of all this as much as I’m trying to convince you. That’s why I’m putting this out there.

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