It takes a lot of guts to be a human these days. We now live in a world where we have to create and maintain an identity in multiple realities.
Who are you in person? Online? And soon, virtually?
We deal with a digital judging system that’s measured by “Likes” and it can either boost our self-esteem within seconds or make us feel like total duds. Random people throw us a Heart, not because they actually like our stuff, but because they are trying to gain followers.
It’s hard to depict what’s even genuine any more.
And feelings can easily get hurt now more than ever.
As a writer, I know how hard it is to put yourself out there. To BE YOURSELF out there. And I know what it feels like to have another person’s judgment shatter something that’s sacred and special to you, including your own perception of self.
I know how hard it is to put yourself out there. To BE YOURSELF out there.
My confidence used to be like the film of a bubble: colorful, transparent and easily broken. In fact, it took a single finger to pop my dreams and stop me from posting REAL writing for years.
I’m sharing this story of mine because it’s possible you’ve faced something similar. And I’m here today to tell you that if you’ve been in hiding, our world needs your honest work and your real self.
Flipping back to a chapter in college, I was tailgating at Michigan State. Of course, it was the typical tailgate scene. Flip cup. Loud music. Drunk people galore. I was telling my friends about the new book I was writing. It was a satirical collection of essays about failed romances, relationships and heartbreak. The working title was, “I Heart Assholes.”
After founding Michigan State’s first online women’s magazine and living in a sorority house for two years, my writing had gained a decent following. I had complete certainty about my future career as a writer. I would receive a loaded inbox of emails and messages daily from readers sharing their own stories and asking for advice.
But it took just one opposing opinion from the right (yet wrong) person to completely shut me down.
Back to the tailgate. Having overheard my book conversation, an ex-boyfriend of mine pulled me aside, red Solo cup in hand and said something similar to, “Your writing is embarrassing and everyone talks about it to me. You really need to just stop.”
It took just one opposing opinion from the right (yet wrong) person to completely shut me down.
I had never felt more embarrassed in my life and even worse, I felt like my work was a mockery, not meaningful. When I got home that evening, through sobs, I deleted my Facebook notes, shut down my blogs and permanently purged material that was precious to me.
I completely stopped writing work that mattered to me for almost 4 years. It’s important to note that I don’t blame this person for my hiatus and crushed confidence. Over time, I’ve accepted that I chose my reaction. I chose to stop. I chose to let those words hurt me. It was my choice to believe his judgment mattered.
It took a hell of a lot of healing and courage building before I made my return as a writer. Having previously written about topics of heartbreak, failure, body image, you name it, my first post back into the world was about sushi. Yes, sushi. That’s how utterly terrified I was to publish anything.
I’ve been back writing for two years now and I still have fear of the publish button. But lately I’ve realized, who doesn’t? Whether you’re posting a selfie or your political stance or creative work that you’ve spent hours on, the fear of judgment is very real. But like all fear, it’s also a bunch of BS that just isn’t true.
There will always be that one person who’s going to test you. But that’s all they are, a test asking you the ultimate question, “How much do you love yourself?”
It’s your decision to choose love over fear.
So to end, here are 10 tips that I learned the hard way, so you don’t have to. Or will hopefully bring you back into the game if you’re currently thinking, “Girl, Preach.”
Originally published at medium.com