There’s been lots of stuff swirling around in my head since I launched my new website and Instagram. There’s a part of me that is relieved to have finally taken this big step. Another part of me is saying ‘What’s the big deal? How is this a big step?’ Another part is annoyed that I am ‘late to the game’ when I used to be an early adopter. I used to be the person setting up social media for other people. And now, when I go on Instagram I am clueless – not only in how to use the app, but in the ‘social conventions’ of using that particular platform. And then there’s the part of me that hates competing to be seen or heard. If there is a group of people talking, I really hesitate to put myself forward, and often hang back unless I am specifically asked to speak. And then there’s the fear that even if people notice what I share it won’t make an impact.
What if I’m like one of those delusional singing show contestants who thinks they have the voice of an angel, but they get in front of the judges and are told that they are tone deaf?
So all of this shit comes back at me.
And I remember that a few weeks ago I started to get these worries. And I connected with my higher self. And I explored what I was ‘doing this for’ and what my goals around it were. I realized that I was looking at things through the lens of a marketing person. Because I spent years in the marketing world I was coming from a point of “How do I get noticed? How do I get people to pay attention to me?”
Yet I didn’t have a goal in mind of a number of followers, comments, likes, or shares. I didn’t really have any tangible goals at all. The closest thing to it was knowing that I want to publish books. And I knew that I would have to have something to show a book publishing company when they ask about my ‘platform’.
But even in thinking about publishing books – what was the intent behind that? So that I could feel like I have ‘done something with my life?’ To feel like I am more than ‘wasted potential’? So that there could be tangible ‘proof’ of my ‘success’?
Hell, I had no idea what success would even look like to me. And I started to realise that even if I published a book, I wouldn’t be ‘done’. I had to dig deeper to find out what the fuck I am even doing this for. I can keep writing without sharing. I’ve done that most of my life.
So what does it mean to me to take this step in sharing my writing?
First, it is a massive expression of self-acceptance and self-love. It’s a testament to how far I have come on that pathway. Not just coming back from a mental breakdown. But in healing deep inner-child wounds.
But it’s also a step out of isolation. Something that I have been stuck in since I moved across the world (literally) from my tribe three years ago. I’ve been building my capacity to participate in life outside of my home. I’ve been wanting to connect with people who aren’t paid to be in my life – no matter how grateful I am for the help my counsellor and psychologist and other supports have given me, and how connected I can feel in session – I want to be able to feel that in the ‘outside world’.
I want to connect with my tribe. And the best way I know how to do that is through writing. I enjoy speaking to people one on one in most cases. But it often seems like everyday communication lacks the depth I am seeking. It’s functional in most cases, rather than intentional. I tend to overshare, and struggle to know where the boundaries are. I tend to under respond, which can make me seem disinterested. But in most cases, it’s because I am processing and figuring out how to respond appropriately.
As I reflect on this, it does make sense to me that writing is a stepping stone out of isolation. I went from writing in my journal which I would share at times by reading to my husband, or to my counsellor or psychologist.
And a year ago, creating a blog and putting my writing online was a big step. I had ‘done something’ with my writing. And I had shown a few people. But I wasn’t ready to share on a larger scale. I wasn’t ready to let people in. At first it was because my fears of being criticized, rejected, or even bullied. But then it became a fear of letting people in because my heart was still hurting from moving so far away and losing the connections I had made.
It’s all part of the journey
And now, when I look back I realise that what seemed like a huge step last year seems small now. And what seems like a huge step now will probably feel really small a year from now. But it’s all part of the journey.
And this is a journey that I have begun so many times, only to abandon. What is going to be different this time? First, there is no pressure to make a living at it. I have reflected on how I felt when I made my first poetry website in 2002. I did it because it was a creative outlet. It was a challenge. It was fun. The idea of making money from it never crossed my mind. It was just a way for me to express myself and to connect with the people I was talking to online.
I know how powerful words are. And how sometimes you come across a phrase, a quote, a poem, or a book that changes your perspective. When I have shared openly, and from the heart, I have helped people.
When I write, I write to heal myself, or to build connection to something greater than myself. Sometimes when I share, it’s part of my healing journey. And sometimes I am sharing because I hope that my words will help to heal others or to help me feel more connected to others.
Seeking validation is nothing new
A line from a poem I wrote in 2002 has come to mind as I’ve been exploring why I am sharing what I write. I don’t often remember things I’ve written from that long ago, but it must have been strongly imprinted on my soul because suddenly I could hear the end of the poem:
Validate these feelings
all of you
It helps to know
that I’m not alone
And maybe that’s why you’ve found me. Although we have access to the lives of billions of people at our fingertips and are more connected than any other time in human history, so many of us feel utterly alone. Sometimes I’m the one who needs to know that I am not alone. Sometimes it’s you who needs to know that you’re not alone. And I hope that when you read my poems and my blogs and posts, you will be flooded with the sense of connection you’ve been seeking.