Celebrating two and a half years of blogging and freelance writing today, y’all! Here’s how it all began. . .
It’s suggested to bloggers that their first post tell readers why they peck at the keyboard and then click publish and what readers can expect to find on their blog. Makes good sense to me, so here goes.
A year ago, a dear friend said I simply must read Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton.
This friend is a sommelier of books and when she tells you to read something, you read it. The force is strong in her and ignoring her book suggestions would be like ignoring Warren Buffett’s advice on investing in mutual funds. So I read Love Warrior and my world went fuzzy and out of focus for a beat before rendering itself sharp and crisp. I felt like Jason Bourne and as if someone had flipped a switch in me. I felt an immense gravitational pull towards Glennon and her writing. I felt a kinship with this woman whom I’d never met like you wouldn’t believe.
Glennon and I both endured the trauma of betrayal in our marriages and nothing bonds you to another human being quite like similar trauma. When she described her heartache in Love Warrior I felt like I was reliving it with her. I had, in fact, lived parts of her story myself. I felt her hurt. As much as anyone can feel anyone else’s pain and if you have empathic superpowers like I do, that’s a lot.
I Googled this woman so I could soak up some more of her and found her first book, Carry On, Warrior, and read it too. It was then that I realized I knew her! Virtually, that is. Glennon is the force, honesty and humorous wit behind the beyond lovely blog, Momastery.com. I realized I’d read some of her posts over the years but since I don’t have a lot of stick-to-it-iveness in many areas of life, I wasn’t a regular reader of her blog. Oh, the horrors, when I think of what I’ve missed.
Early in Carry On, Warrior, Glennon spoke to me when she wrote the following:
“If, anywhere in your soul, you feel the desire to write, please write. Write as a gift to yourself and others. Everyone has a story to tell. Writing is not about creating tidy paragraphs that sound lovely or choosing the “right” words. It’s just about noticing who you are and noticing life and sharing what you notice. When you write your truth it is a love offering to the world because it helps us feel braver and less alone.”
She had me at “please write.” But she went on to say:
“If you feel something calling you to dance or write or paint or sing, please refuse to worry about whether you’re good enough. Just do it. Be generous. Offer a gift to the world that no one else can offer: yourself.”
Word. Mic drop.
She isn’t the first person to tell me I should write. She’s just the first person I listened to. My husband has encouraged me to write for as long as I can remember. I just p-shawed him. What does he know? He’s supposed to tell me I’m wonderfully talented and encourage me to use said talent. I can’t put stock in his endorsement. He’s biased.
There’ve been others who’ve tried to encourage me to write as well. I paid them no attention because I’d made a mental list a mile long of reasons I shouldn’t write and that list is what I paid attention to. I know now that list was a liar and the reasons it cited to keep me from writing were inspired by fear and insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty, and a complete lack of faith. That fraudulent list duped me into believing I could never be a writer and I fell for it. I despise that bully of a list today.
My dumb, but maybe very common, reasons not to write:
- I don’t know how. – Um, yes I do. But I was being technical. One of my biggest regrets is being a shining star in my English classes in high school. I passed my AP test in Lit & Comp and thus tested right out of having to take writing in college. I used the free time to add in science courses because I thought I wanted to go into healthcare. It turns out I don’t want to work in healthcare after all. But I do want to write. I let lack of formal training and “proper” instruction hold me back. Shame on me! No, shame is bad—very, very bad. Love on me, even though.
- What if no one wants to read my writing or thinks it is any good? – What if. Oh, the what ifs. If ifs and buts were candies and nuts we’d all have a Merry Christmas. Or something to that effect, right? In Carry on, Warrior, Glennon explained in a way I finally understood that your gift is something that brings YOU joy when you do it, even if it’s hard for you to do. So that’s why I’m finally ready to call writing my gift, because of what happens to me when I do it. I become joyful. Not happy per se, but full of joy and joy is the bomb! I get it now. Your gift is for you. It’s from God–where all good things come from. Using it for the benefit of others can be a natural extrapolation and important to do, but we are the intended first recipients of our gifts. Sometimes it’s just hard to see our gifts for what they are because they can feel so ordinary. So it doesn’t matter much whether anyone ever reads my writing or appreciates it. Because I’m really writing for the sheer joy doing it.
- What if I write something that hurts someone’s feelings. – Too bad, so sad. Seriously though—I would never write for the purpose of causing pain. Exactly the opposite in fact; to feel joy and to connect with others. “Sometimes you wanna be, where you can see, your troubles are all the same. . .” By summoning my bravery and telling my truths, I can quit hiding and begin to heal and if I share my stories so that someone else can see their pain sames with mine, then hopefully they’ll feel less alone. Author and seasoned warrior in the game of life, Anne Lamott, taught me I own everything that happens to me. That I get to tell my stories. And if people wanted me to write more warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.
- There are AMAZING writers out there and they are SO funny, wise, insightful, innovative, helpful, on point, relevant and creative. I can’t compete with them. Writing isn’t a competition. Well actually in 1st grade it was, and I won! I produced a lovely and effective environmental campaign featuring Hootie, the Tootsie Pop Owl. My tagline was, “Give a hoot, don’t polloot.” My prize was a pack of bubble gum and a pot of daisies. But in reality, writing is about expressing yourself and using your gift to relate to the world. As noted above, your gift brings YOU joy, first and foremost. If that’s all writing ever accomplishes for you, it’s still worth doing.
- Fear of plagiarism. I read a ton of books, articles, blogs, posts, memes, emails, texts and order confirmations from Amazon. What if I write someone else’s words, and forgetting where they came from, I think they’re my own? This is still a valid fear. I’m a middle-aged mom and thus my memory cannot be trusted, it is shady as f@#!. Since it will never be my intention to commit petty theft of words though, I’ll work hard to give credit where credit is due and ask for forgiveness if I make a blunder. If I ever get to hang out with a bunch of experienced writers, one of the first questions I’ll ask them will be, “How do you know you wrote your words down and not mine?”
- Is there anything left to write about? – According to the bible, there’s nothing new under the sun. My brain agrees when it begins to over-think writing. But maybe there are still new ways to write about all the old stuff. I go back to what Glennon offered. She explained we each have one gift to offer the world that no one else can—ourselves. And, sure, maybe my take on things won’t be that much different from so and so’s, but sometimes it’s good to hear things over and over again until they finally sink into our thick skulls. (Whoops, I was writing to myself there, not to you. You’re not in trouble and I don’t think you’re thick-headed). In addition, much of what I write details the story of infidelity in my marriage. And while adultery has been around as long as marriage and doesn’t appear close to being eradicated anytime soon, it turns out not many affected by this unthinkable horror are willing to talk publicly about it. But I am and so I do.
- Our stories are not for everyone. – Thank you for reminding us of that, Brené Brown. Over-sharing is a concern. Being misunderstood isn’t just possible, it’s inevitable. There are people out there who may try to use my words against me. Not everyone is for me. Even so, I’m ready to push this fear aside just like all the others. There are enough people out there who are behind me and since God is at the top of that list, so who can REALLY be against me?
- I’m busy. – Yeah, yeah, aren’t we all. I’ll stop here with this ridiculous list because I think you get the idea. All the other reasons not to write get really weak from here on out anyway.
So I will write, to clear my head and to make sense of my thoughts as they morph into written words. And then I’ll be brave and share the only thing of value that I actually possess, myself—in hopes of connecting on a deeper level with even just one of you. It’s my observation that life sucks. And then it doesn’t. And then it does again. But if we can grasp hands and sing, “We’re all in this together,” like we’re cast members of High School Musical, maybe we’ll feel a little stronger, a little better equipped, and a little less alone inside our stories.
Perfect is gross. If you disagree and think Perfect is grand, then this blog and its Imperfect content will not be for you. But I know for certain that Perfect is not my friend, or yours. Perfect and I tried to become close in the past when we were young and we thought we needed each other and we were happy together for a time. Together, we felt strong and courageous. We thought we could conquer our common enemies; insecurity, anxiety, shame, and loneliness. Our too-close friendship hurt those around us, though.
When Perfect and I focused all of our attention on each other, our families and other friends felt less than in our presence. Once I recognized the pain we caused, I began to feel it too. Nothing hurts us quite as bad as when we hurt someone we love.
Since no friendship of mine should ever serve to cause anyone else pain, I decided to break up with Perfect. She didn’t want to let me go. We wrestled it out and for a while, we were at an impasse. Then something miraculous happened. I realized Perfect didn’t actually exist. And poof, she was gone.
Perfect had been an imaginary friend all along. I’d conjured her when I felt alone and misunderstood. When I felt shunned and unable to belong anywhere. I’d befriended her in hopes she would protect me and keep me safe. She was tough as nails where I was weak. My biggest hope was that she would make me feel worthy.
Instead, Perfect was sly and deceptive and closed me off to other people. She isolated me and made sure I was unapproachable. Her departure freed me, opening me up to others, and it was then that I met Imperfect. I was receptive to Imperfect and her gifts and she became my new favorite friend. I love Imperfect still today because she’s SOOOO real. We’re tight. We go everywhere together.
The best part about our friendship is I know it’ll last my whole life and nothing will come between us. I take that back, the absolute best part is we make everyone around us feel accepted. People feel normal and at ease around us. They feel like there’s room for them and they belong with us. Not all the time, because Imperfect and I don’t always get everything right. But even this makes people feel better about themselves. It’s funny how our friendship works to soothe others.
Imperfect doesn’t really make me feel worthy either, but she does make me feel like I’m enough just the way I am. That’s what you can expect to find here on this blog. Me, Imperfect, and room for you too. I do hope you’ll join us and subscribe today so you’ll never miss a new post.