You start to write this post and your fingers hesitate over the keyboard. One part of your brain wonders when you bought a franchise for Oprah’s Life Class. You wonder about sounding like a preacher, roll your eyes like a teacher, and resume typing with a sigh. Authenticity on a personal blog is sometimes writing what matters to you with your style and in your voice.
The first time you realised you had a distinct writing voice was when you rewrote the foreword of a friend’s manuscript because she asked you to. You’d found it stuffy like a chemistry class about atoms without pictures. You thought that an inspirational book should make readers feel as though they were drinking coffee with the author and talking about life. You transcribed this photo, infecting your words with warmth that spreads from intimate conversation.
Your approach couldn’t have been more wrong for your friend read it, shook her head, and demanded, “Why didn’t you write like you write at work? That’s why I came to you in the first place!”
You stammered, “But that is my job. This is my heart.”
To write from your heart, you must first know your heart. What made your heart go va-va-voom at eighteen is not the same thing that makes your heart race at forty. The heart is always circulating blood throughout the body. You are a constant work in progress. Neutrality is for the dead, the ideas you encounter daily, shift you one way or the other. Oxygen-depleted blood enters the right side of the heart and exits through the left full of oxygen. Yet, the heart sits fixed in the chest cavity between your two lungs. Who you are at your core and the ideas which circulate in your mind will seep from your pen, whether black, blue, red, or green.
To become you, you must find you. Remember when you isolated your baby’s cry in a room full of crying infants or picked out a friend’s laughter in a noisy coffee bar? This is the magic of bonding, of spending hours with someone you love, you! You hear your cry and understand your pain. Healthy self-preoccupation may mean that you are the last to hear office gossip because your internal dialogue is louder and juicier. You are an active participant in the internal narrative of your life, listening, taking notes, sharing feedback, and steering the conversation.
Experimenting within boundaries may cushion failure on the way to discovery. I wrote poetry and gave drama a stint, before I settled on prose. Second chances are about reinventing yourself. You can gift yourself one anytime. If self-acceptance comes before change perhaps change has a better chance of stamping itself on you because your need is raw like desire.
It takes courage to be yourself for when you finally meet yourself, you may not like who you are. When children unwrap gifts at Christmas, they look past their gift to ask others, “What did you get?” The value of the gift received grows or diminishes in comparison to what others received or how others perceive what they received. You also play this game. It is hard not to compare, after all, there is no tall without short. But you can learn to “uncompare,” that is, measure your good against your better, and aim for the best.
The high price of being you is the risk of being misunderstood or rejected. But even in that, there is value to be harnessed. The world isn’t tolerant of plastic bottles that don’t fit in the general assembly plant. Did you know it costs time and effort to create special assembly plants? You put in the time. You put in the effort. Give yourself the gift of you before you offer the world the gift of you. Then, whatever happens, the ground upon which you place your feet will hold you up.
©Timi Yeseibo 2014
Image credit: stick figures from Microsoft
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