When I was in the seventh grade, my homeroom teacher would assign writing tasks for the class to complete once every couple of weeks. Sometimes he asked us to respond to an opinion question and other times we could create fictional stories, but no matter what the topic was, I loved it each and every time. Working on these assignments ignited something in me. For the first time, I actually felt like I was good at something. That teacher saw something in me that I never knew was there. He encouraged me to continue writing and even predicted that one day, I’d be an author. By the end of that school year I had written more than twenty class assignments, but more importantly, discovered a newfound passion.
As I got older, I thought about what it would be like to be a writer. That was the one goal that I never allowed myself to say out loud for fear that it would never happen. My whole life I’ve been waiting for the day that I could call myself a writer. In school I wrote essays and reports and research studies. It didn’t feel right to say I was a writer then because I wasn’t studying to become a writer. But what about now? I write this blog, and I’ve been working on a personal project for the past few years. Can I call myself a writer now? The problem with this question is that I’m the only one that can answer this question and yet I’ve been waiting for someone to give me permission to do so.
So, am I a writer?
Part of the reason I felt strange about calling myself a writer was because it was something about myself that most people didn’t even know. Earlier this year, I started getting more serious about my writing. For the first time in a long time I had a clear idea of what my goals were and writing was a part of them. But in order to make any kind of progress, it had to involve me being more open about my writing. When I started telling people about my writing, most of them had no idea that I was a writer. How was it possible that I hadn’t opened up about this side of me to some of the closest people in my life? Had I not told them because I was embarrassed? Was I afraid of their opinions? The more I thought of it, the more I realized that I was allowing my fears of failure and judgement hold me back from ever trying. So I did the only thing I could think of: I jumped head first into a new project. I created The Bliss List.
Writing has always felt like part of my identity, but that doesn’t mean that I am free of insecurities.
The day that the blog was launched was exhilarating and nauseating at the same time. Before I shared it, I was filled with the usual questions and worries: What will everyone think? What if they think it’s boring? What if they think it’s lame or self-indulgent? And what about strangers? What if nobody ever notices it? What if I put in all this effort only to come up empty handed? All of these questions swirled around my mind, but eventually I worked up enough courage and shared it with everyone I knew.
A little while ago, a few months into my blogging journey, all of my insecurities and worries as a writer were put to the test. I wrote a blog post about a Harry Potter themed party I hosted a couple years prior and felt giddy at the idea of sharing it with the world. I spent a solid month prior to that party planning it out, making the decorations and obsessing over the tiniest details. When it came time to writing about it, I put the same amount of energy into that post as I did the party itself. I gathered pictures, I prepared detailed descriptions of all of the decor, I even created printables for others to use for their own parties. I was certain it would be a hit in the blogosphere, especially with my fellow Potter fans. After going through the post with a fine-toothed comb, looking for any spelling or grammar errors or ways I could make it even better, I finally clicked “publish” and waited for the response. I was crushed to realize after the first day that only a few people had viewed it and it didn’t get better over the next couple of days, even after sharing it to social media. I shouldn’t have been surprised, really. It wasn’t like I had a huge following or people flocking to my blog in large numbers, but I let myself get excited about it only to be disappointed when it didn’t blow up. Negative self talk started taking over and I immediately felt like a failure.
That’s what happens when you attach value to something based on external factors. I was allowing other people’s opinions and actions dictate my happiness. When I was just writing for me, I was on cloud nine. I felt proud of the work I created and even more so of the fact that I was brave enough to put it out there. Writing that post made me happy, and looking at the finished product gave me pride in my work. So, why did I let the number of views or “likes” change that so quickly? I was so proud of the work I created and yet all it took was a quick glance at my “stats” page to take that all away.
When I sat down to think about this experience, I asked myself three questions that put everything back into perspective:
- Why am I writing this blog?
- Who am I writing this blog for?
- What is my goal for this blog?
And here were (and still are) my answers:
- I started this blog because I love writing and I wanted a creative outlet for it. I wanted to create something that was mine, something I could call my own, a place where I could write about the things that I enjoyed.
- At it’s core, I write this blog for myself. I would like to help others and share what I’ve learned through my experiences, but at the end of the day, this blog is for me. I didn’t start it because I wanted to become famous or have thousands of people follow me on social media.
- My goal for this blog is to maintain a regular writing practice, to use this as a tool of exploring my thoughts and to share the lessons I’ve learned with others who may benefit. My goal can not be quantified by a number of daily views or by how many people like a post; my goal is measured by how it makes me feel. If it fills me with joy and gets me excited at the prospect of writing something new, then I have achieved my goal.
Writing, as with creating anything, is a highly vulnerable act. It requires you to be brave, put your work out there and be okay with whatever the response is. If you pursue a career where you share your creativity, you have to have a thick skin, but not too thick that you never let your creativity out. You also have to be very in-tune with your thoughts and feelings without letting your self-doubt get it the way. No one ever said it was easy. It’s something that takes time and practice and constant reminders to be brave.
Do I still have insecurities as a writer? Of course. But this difference is, I control my insecurities, not the other way around.
I hope I can provide positivity, encouragement and motivation to others by being open and honest. I hope that by being open and vulnerable, by saying I don’t have it all together, others will see that it’s okay to still be figuring stuff out too. It’s a journey that takes your entire life to figure out. Grow, change and change again. It’s all part of the fun.