when I write
I have a love-hate relationship with words. If you know me, you’re probably aware that I am quite talkative, but sometimes it takes me a while to communicate what I am sincerely trying to say. I get all jumbled up with my words, and I tend to dance around the point when a few words would be more eloquent. My brain is like a stadium with only one exit. Every idea is trying to get out, but my mouth is jam packed with ideas, each pushing and shoving to be heard. My mind is like an airport. Its distracting, about a thousand different things are happening all at once, everyone has somewhere to be quickly, luggage is lost, and there’s always important thoughts landing on my brain and exciting ideas being launched off into the world. I am a double texter, a triple texter, and a quadruple texter; there’s always something more to be said. I can be rash and impulsive when I talk. I miss opportunities to say how I feel, and I always think of a better way to phrase something after its already left the stadium-airport launchpad of my mind. There seems to be no checkpoint between my brain and my mouth, leaving my words randomly unfiltered, and sometimes purely nonsense. I jump from topic to topic, I can get awkward when I feel like there’s unwanted silence, I talk fast when I am excited, and I mumble when I am trying to explain things- even though I never notice it myself. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a terrible communicator. I have my shining moments, and I have been known to say some pretty funny, wise, and intelligent things, but sometimes my words get the best of me. They habitually seem to be tripping me up and leaving me unsatisfied with my power to communicate.
But when I write, I hold all the power. Writing is like flipping on the lights. All the crazy jumbled up words inside my head are laid out in front of me. I have the time to slow down, and intentionally pick which phrases to connect in order to capture the important thoughts that so often get swept away in conversation. When I write, I am granted the opportunity to untangle the web of to-do lists, thoughts, and little “aha!” moments I have throughout the day. Writing allows me to tell stories, articulate the truth, and make decisions that need deeper discernment that my sporadic thoughts allow.
Writing makes me feel tremendously vulnerable and incredibly powerful at the very same time. I can say what I want, how I want, when I want to say it. That’s pretty great, but writing also takes all the thoughts that abide amongst the clutter of my mind and lays them out before the world; unguarded by the fortresses I build around them. When I write, it feels like the naked dream. I am sure you have experienced a dream like this. I always have the same one, and I find myself back in a high school class without a stitch of clothing on. No matter what I do or how I try to hide it, I can’t seem to disguise the fact that I am naked and everyone is watching. Writing takes honesty. It takes vulnerability, and it takes courage. Every time I decide to write something -whether it’s an essay for class, a post for my blog, or a letter to a friend- I am unconsciously claiming my right to be heard, and that’s a bold move. I have never felt vulnerable turning in a test or answering a math problem, but every single time I hand over my writing for a peer edit or I open an email with essay comments from a teacher, my stomach does a little flip. What if it’s not good enough? What if I seem cliché, or naïve, or my grammar and spelling is just painfully incorrect? I tend to posit more of my identity into the letter grade I receive on a paper than on a math test or lab report. In the latter, I am only being graded on my accuracy, but when I am evaluated on my writing, my voice is also judged. That just feels more personal.
Although it terrifies me, I love that writing makes me vulnerable. Once I get past the fear of being genuine, I realize that there’s more joy in expressing myself than keeping all my jumbled-up words tucked inside the airport-stadium of my brain. Maybe no one will ever read this or maybe it will be harshly assessed, picked apart, and laughed at. It’s true, there’s a possibility that my vulnerability will just be a simple act of courage with no lasting effect on the world at all. But perhaps this combination of letters and commas and spaces will inspire someone, or make them think a little harder. Perhaps my writing will turn the lights on for someone else to discover the power of articulation that lies within each and every one of us. Maybe it will make someone happy, or maybe it will help you understand the peculiar person that I am a little more. Who am I to say what strength my writing holds?
No matter what power it holds outside of itself, I will continue to write. In a world that values conformity and perfection, writing is my escape to authenticity. It requires honesty, and it humbles me by exposing my ideas to public speculation. Writing reminds me to be myself, and it holds me accountable to originality on the days that I am tempted to simply fit in. Somedays it’s hard to find the time -and even harder to find the words- to write, but I will continue to actively seek out both in order to create a little more space for creativity, light, and truth in the world. So, here’s to more blog posts, more emails, more papers and letters. Write on, my friends.