While hiking with a group of people my friend introduced me to another woman as a writer. I didn’t know how to respond. Inside I laughed with self-criticism and said “yeah, right… that’s funny….” because I have not pursued my personal writing for so long that I don’t even identify as a writer anymore. It’s been years since I’ve used the modifier “writer” to describe myself.
I was flattered that she introduced me as a writer, but deep inside it felt like a lie.
The next day I found myself in conversation with a writer who I’ve known for a while in our spiritual community. I’ve been following her online but never talked to her about writing. I’ve admired her bravery as she puts herself out there. I asked her questions about her writing, her journey, and her writing practice. I had very little to add to the conversation.
I felt a confusion of strong feelings emerging: envy, fear, criticism, insecurity, loneliness. And then in a snap it was clear: I miss writing.
In that very moment I knew I had a choice. I could go on being envious of her (and all writers everywhere!), or, I could take a deep breath and say hello to my deeper truth. The thing behind the envy and fear. So I held my green-eyed monster in my arms like a scared baby and said out loud to my friend, “I’m feeling a deep craving to return to my writing.”
It was out. And it wasn’t a lie.
Because even though hearing someone describe me as a writer felt like a lie, my desire to write was most definitely NOT a lie.
It was my truth. It felt vulnerable and unsafe to say it out loud, but I was humming with the sweet adrenaline of truth. I forced myself to say more. “I have a blog that I haven’t updated in over a year….” “I’ve been so busy and don’t have time to write…” “I’ve had such a hard year that I haven’t been writing…”
Then I saw my words for what they really were: excuses and fears—not truths.
The truth is that being busy was a choice I made. The truth is that I had a hard year, as sometimes we all do. The truth is I had been giving all of my passion and energy to my work and at the same time navigating my father’s illness and care and eventual death, barely leaving enough time for my family and myself, let alone for writing. The truth is that it wasn’t the right time for writing.
I mustered up all my courage and told her that I want to write again, and that I’m terrified to put myself out there, and that I’m so out of shape as a writer that I don’t even know where to begin. She suggested I set some goals for myself and dedicate time to write every day. We talked about fostering a writing community. I walked away feeling a sense of solidity, gratitude and connection. I had a sense of lightness that was so freeing. A sense of lightness that always comes when I speak my truth.
Just days after this conversation, I stumbled across a really interesting online writing course on Facebook. I immediately signed up! I said YES to my truth and clicked that PayPal button so fast before I had even a second to spiral into envy, or fear, or longing for something I perceived that I couldn’t have or didn’t have time for.
Now I’m digging into this writing class by The HerStories Project. It’s scary. It’s challenging. It’s fun. It’s exactly what I needed. I feel like me again. I’m remembering how much I like to write.
When I write, I connect to myself in a way that I don’t experience any other way. Surprising insights and clarity rush in. One of the insights I got from writing this blog is that taking action beats envy and fear. Fear makes us jump out of our skin or freezes us so we’re incapacitated.
Fear makes us jump out of our skin or freezes us so we’re incapacitated. I’ve been frozen with fear for a stretch. Now I’m ready to jump out of my skin.