Growing the Courage to Write and Post
My 9th grade English teacher pulled me aside and told me I was a natural writer. I remember looking at her like she was from outer space, saying thank you, and then convincing myself she didn’t actually mean it. I also remember a meek little voice whispering “maybe…”
I gently fondled the natural writer idea for a while.
I began to visualize it as a separate person who was not yet, but could be me. Sometimes, I would tickle my natural writer and make her laugh. Other times, I would stress her out and make her work all night. Occasionally, I would get really close without saying anything and breathe in her face like a creep.
It would be years before I made love to her properly, and we still have a lot to learn about each other.
In college, I realized that the money my parents paid for my privileged education really was worth it.
In one night, I was able to slam out a research paper I should have been working on for weeks and get an A.
I missed out on a lot of learning that way.
I didn’t want to procrastinate, but I struggle to stay focused unless the stakes are high. That’s a totally different ADD flavored story time, though…
Enter: Psychology of Self with Dr. David Rosen.
I thought I was signing up for a class about the universal idea of “self”, or the average individual’s perception of “self”, or anything other than what it was… a guided analysis of MY “capital S” Self.
With Dr. David H. Rosen, M.D. as our shaman, 15 or so college students held hands, took a deep breath, and splashed into our Shadows.
Dr. Rosen is a psychiatrist, author, Jungian analyst, artist, shaman, and one of the most gentle, kind, and fascinating humans I have ever met. His light led us into depths of our own minds we didn’t know existed and burned bright to help us find the way out.
Completing his assignments often required introspection, brutal honesty, and courage.
This was not the writing I was used to.
I found myself sitting at the table staring at the leafy designs my mom and I stenciled on the wall. The computer was open, spilling blueish light on my face, and the headphones were beaming a classical music compilation that promised to make children smarter.
Every time the cursor line blinked on the blank page, a different idea flitted around my consciousness. For once, I actually wanted to gather and regurgitate information in “my own words” like I did for other classes.
The exact phrasing of the final assignment has faded in my memory, but it revolved around purpose. The resulting paper reads as if I were answering the question “What is your Self’s purpose in this life and why?”
So, what did I do?
I started at the beginning and wrote an 8 page summary of my psyche shaping life events.
As I wrote, I envisioned the range of reactions from every person who was important to me or mentioned in the stories. I edited every sentence at least twice in an effort to guarantee that it left the exact impression I intended. I re-read the entire paper before writing each new paragraph.
I babied this piece of writing.
This assignment forced me to introduce my Natural Writer to my Ego.
I perceived finality in writing about myself. I felt, once the assignment was completed and turned in, that was it. This collection of words would forever be on record as my truth.
Cue my Ego’s dramatic grand entrance…
My Ego wants others to perpetually see me in the light of the golden hour. It resists anything that might shine too brightly on a shameful blemish or a rash that looks contagious.
After a wrestling match between my Ego and Natural Writer ended in a draw with the summary, I proposed an armistice by writing a reflective response to every story I told.
I stated each lesson I learned in a matter-of-fact manner. I was sure to include how grateful I was for every experience, even the negative ones, because they make me, Me.
I carried on like that for 4 pages and finally arrived at purpose in the last two paragraphs.
My conclusion: I will have many purposes in life, but my overarching purpose is to care for each one and help others tend to theirs, too.
My purpose is caring for a bunch of other purposes?
Don’t worry. I’m not sure it makes sense either, but thats where I landed at the time.
That assignment was a damn good crash course in personal writing, but it left me raw and rather sick of myself.
I knew the armistice would end and my Ego and Natural Writer would clash once again. Instead of welcoming the character building action, I sidestepped it by forcing my Natural Writer to take an indefinite sabbatical and letting my Ego run rampant in sporadic writing I kept to myself.
At one point, I stopped writing about myself completely.
Alas, we arrive at the birth of this story!
I recently tried writing about myself again.
But, I made a few changes…
- I write with the mindset that someone else will read it someday, but I don’t obsess over what they’ll think of it.
- I keep my Ego at arm’s length, but allow it to infuse my writing with confidence.
- I don’t always decide what or whom I will write about before I start.
I gotta tell you, writing has never been smoother.
My Natural Writer emerged from sabbatical invigorated and thirsty for work.
I threw her a few pitches and she made some solid hits!
I thought it might be time to open the doors to spectators.
That’s when my Ego spouted a stream of fear.
“Will people point out all my grammar mistakes?”
“Will I be embarrassed by it in 5 years and wish I hadn’t posted it?”
“Will people think I am a narcissist if I write about myself?”
This story is my answer.