Welcome to my first post on my blog (seriously hate that word) my something to say. I’ve always loved writing. It’s been kind of obnoxious my whole life. Even in school I loved writing. I had a professor in undergrad tell me once, “You’re a great writer, but I don’t need to hear every single thought you have.” As I type that it sounds harsher than how I took it…or how I thought I took it.
I remember laughing and thinking it was a lovely compliment wrapped in a criticism, which, at the time, criticism may or may not have been (aka was totally) something I did not do well with. Honesty check: I still struggle with it. Overall, I recall the glow of feeling he said I was good writer, however as I reflect back on that moment, I wonder if I took it to mean more than that. Being an anxious person and perfectionist at times, especially in regards to academia, I tend to generalize. It seems I may have took that, and other messages throughout my life—messages specifically for me and messages for women at large—to mean that what I had to say was “too much”, that my instincts were to share more than I should. [Other therapists and clients out there will likely shudder with me at the word “should.” Shoulds are pieces of horseshit. They are the implicit rules we create ourselves and follow to the letter of the law. Except there are no laws here…other than the ones we create about these rules. It’s funny, we will follow these rules formulated by our creative, and sometimes—read: often—punitive, brains, but have no hesitation in breaking explicit, spelled out rules like rolling through a stop sign or speeding.] I told myself I should not share my something to say.
Yet. Still. I thought about writing every day. My mind fluttered about with silly musings to share or deep-seated sentiments about life, love, and wellness, as well as on braver days, incredibly intimate narratives of my own struggles; I’ve rarely listened to that impulse. Even though I hear it and feel it every damn day. Sometimes it almost screams in my head. “JUST WRITE ABOUT IT.” “JUST SHARE IT.” “JUST. FUCKING. SAY. IT.”
I’m a pscyhothearpist. I work with people to hopefully foster within themselves the capacity to better attune to their own thoughts, feelings, drives, values, etc. I can imagine it’s easy to think, “Hellooooooo. Maybe try that on yourself…Hypocrite.” Most therapists know we often give the feedback and reflections that we most need to hear. That is most certainly where I found myself.
So…I found myself there and then I sat on that realization and protected it as if it was my precious baby, even from the people closest to me, for months. It truly felt like if I said it out loud I would be shunned, laughed at, or questioned, “What could you possible say that has anything to offer to other people?” I don’t know when I started to assume the people in my life wouldn’t support me…Oh, that’s right I don’t feel that way, but the sneaky, doubting, negative self-talk part of my thoughts do. They mask their manipulation in the intent to protect me from possible pain or hurt. “Hey jerks. I’m good. I don’t need your protection. The people in my life support me and if they ever choose not to I’m more than able to handle the pain, hurt, and rejection that comes with that. I really am.” Does that mean I wouldn’t be devastated, cry, and begin a slight panic spiral about my self worth? Absolutely not, I totally would. That, my dear, sweet, crippling doubt, is part of the process.
I was seeking some reassurance recently from my ladies and I asked them, “What do you think? Do you think this is stupid for me to try?” They both stared at me blankly. I don’t blame them. It’s a shitty, sort of passive-aggressive question with seemingly only one response if you want to maintain a friendship with someone. One of them eventually cracked a smile and laughed, probably realizing I was in desperate need of a response regardless how rhetorical my question may have seemed, and said, “I’ve been telling you to do this since the first time I read your stuff.” The other, while breastfeeding her beautiful newborn baby, gave me the straightest and most unamused face I’ve ever witnessed and stated so matter of factly, “I think it’s stupid if you don’t do it and I’ll be really disappointed in you if you let this go.” The first one gave a perfect belly laugh and retorted, “Well that is one way to go with that.”
It is the only way to go with that. That brutal, blunt force trauma to my risk averseness dripping in nurturance, love, and faith. Those two are a combo for the ages.
Another fear was that I was not ready. I know jack shit about creating a website, I do not get my panties in a bunch about grammar, and I really struggle being new at things. I felt I didn’t have enough of a brand, which is a word that gets thrown around so much lately. I felt like I was drowning in trying to figure out how to package all of what I was hoping to do. “I need to have it all figured out before I start.” I said to myself more times than one.
The same day I got the pep talk/kick in the ass from my friends, I was home, being the domestic goddess I am (hope the sarcasm is palpable), reading Real Simple and I came across an article about Jeni Britton Bauer (If you’re not familiar she is a woman who created a line of ice cream with innovative flavors—Whiskey and Pecans, Wildberry Lavender, or Queen City Cayenne tickle your fancy?—found possibly at your local grocer or if your Chicago-based located in Wicker Park and Southport neighborhoods.)
In two separate articles she said exactly what I needed to hear.
“When you find an idea, it’s about just starting. It doesn’t have to be perfect. If you’re bold enough to start, you just have to stay on the train. Once I get on a train, I don’t get off unless it crashes and burns.”
“At some point, it’s not about right or wrong—it’s about making a decision, sticking with it, and learning from it…You learn from mistakes, and then your gut is more educated. Especially starting a business, if you think too much, you’ll never do it. Research is good, but eventually knowledge can become paralyzing. Turn off your brain and jump off the cliff. You can build the parachute on the way down.”
Her words helped me realize I need to push myself; trust I can figure out the obstacles when they happen (Just learned through googling the proper way to use a semi-colon and I’m pretty fucking amped about it because it is the perfect punctuation–wait, is it punctuation?–to articulate the way I think/write…hodgepodgey and scrappy AF). That I have to work on refusing to say “No” to myself before I even get out the door because of the fear of the possibility of someone else rejecting my work. From my perspective, it is far more damaging to slam the door in your own face than to have someone else do it to you. Her advice also reminded me that words matter; one thing any of us can say to another can be the exact thing we need to hear.
One thing. Welcome to my something (my one thing) to say.
I’ll be writing about all sorts of things. Some personal: relationships, friendships, body image, family, work. Some professional: mindfulness, parenting, meditation, self-care, work life balance, anxiety, depression, health, wellness, mind-body connection (yoga!). Some silly. Some serious. Eventually some recurring columns and a podcast. I hope you’ll join me…Not just in reading and exploring with me, but in finding ways to share your own something to say.
With gratitude and compassion, Your Beth