On Coming Off of the Eggshells
A reader recently emailed me and mentioned how he noticed a shift in my writing voice over the past few months.
His comment surprised me. I wasn't consciously aware of any changes in my writing. However, as he explained what he meant a bit more, I immediately realized what was happening.
It's not so much that I have changed, but that I am expressing myself more openly and transparently than in the past. In the past, I've been in situations that required me to constantly be walking on eggshells. I've been in situations where the words I write and publish could cause a lot of problems.
So, for a portion of my blogging experience, I've had an extremely heavy filter. I've been very careful about what I've said and how I've said it.
Nowadays, I'm in a place where I can more freely decide what I want to share and say online. It's not that I'm not careful with my words any more or think that my words still couldn't cause problems. Rather, I'm just no longer hyper-concerned that the slightest miss-phrasing of a statement could come at a great personal loss.
In a nutshell, my feet have finally landed on a surface that isn't covered in eggshells. I can walk more freely, and I can do so without as much pain. I'm very thankful for this.
A natural byproduct of this fact is a change in my writing voice. It's going to become more natural and honest. I say "going to become" because I've only recently woken up to the fact that I'm still in the process of this becoming.
What do I mean by this? I mean that I have a lot of scars from the time I was walking on eggshells for so long.
Even though I know I'm in a better place, I still have anxiety and self-protection built up. I still worry that when I hit the publish button I'm going to immediately regret it.
"Why not just write privately?"
Oh, I do. I don't share everything publicly. When did it become popular to think that a writer shares everything he or she writes? That would be stupid. I have personal rules and standards for how I interact online.
However, writing without being read isn't the same as writing and being read. The latter is a completely different experience which pushes a writer to greater heights (or so I'm told).
I also believe that I carry a responsibility to share some of what I've learned and experienced. Over the years I've relied heavily upon reading the written words of those who have gone before me. I'm indebted to so many people for choosing to put their lived experiences into words that other people can read.
I'm honestly not sure what I'd do without the voices of some of the writers I've read. On some level, they've saved me.
Before I came off the eggshells, people would regularly ask me why I bothered writing and sharing if it caused me so much trouble. The simple answer is this:
Part of why I write is in the hopes that it will help someone else. Part of why I write is the awareness that there are other people out in the world who could use or be encouraged by what I have to say.
I write for them.
I write for my former self too because I know there are other selves that are very similar to my former self. And, I know that my former self would have really appreciated someone who was further along choosing to speak up about the journey.
The scars and the walls that have built up in my life are holding me back from speaking up, though. I know they exist, and I know I need to come to terms with them if I'm ever going to grow as a writer and as a human.
Now that someone has pointed it out, I hear my voice changing too. There's more, though. As much as I don't like it sometimes, I see that I'm changing too.
I'm currently walking down a path that feels completely uncharted. I don't have any people in my life who have been down this specific path. People keep asking me how they can help, but I have no answers for them or for myself.
It would be nice if there was someone who had gone before me and written down what it was like. There are of course. Their stories aren't identical, but they do exist. So, I'm reading them.
I'm reading the stories of people who have experienced so much hurt and yet chosen to speak up about it.
That's what I'm talking about when I talk about writing. Sharing. Passing it along. Even when you think it doesn't matter. Even if the only person I ever end up helping is myself.