A roller coaster ride describes my experience during the last few years that I have shared my writing publicly. The entire process of writing and sharing is far more in depth than I expected and the emotional ups and downs took me by complete surprise. The experience has become a mirror for my personal growth as I’ve embraced writing as part of my vocation.
Writing isn’t new to me, growing up I collected fancy pens and filled every unique journal I came across with my words. Those journals were companions to me, and only the select few were allowed a glimpse into my world on paper.
Writing has always been an intimate act. I’m an introvert; I don’t open up to many people; I am comfortable being that way. When opening myself up through writing, I’m sharing not only my thoughts but also a glimpse into my family life and my faith. It is an act of vulnerability—sharing what’s in my heart, opening myself up to judgment, criticism, and others misinterpreting what I mean. This has caused anxiety and whirls of negative thoughts on occasion, even though I haven’t had any real negative feedback–an insightful experience for myself.
There is a vulnerability in the writing process even if I do not share because it is therapeutic and therapy sessions can be painful work. Good writing requires honesty: It is a process where one examines oneself, looks deeply into one’s heart, and examines and reexamines one’s thoughts. It is a subjection to self-criticism. It is also a place to find forgiveness of self and others. Honesty is needed to understand the ugliness as well as the beauty within oneself and the world. Ernest Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Writing is an act of vulnerability.
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. Some years more than others. It’s good for my soul. The sharing part is the hardest struggle. Even though I have had kind feedback, I can still get anxious when sharing a new piece.
So why continue writing publicly? I believe God gives us talents, experiences, and a unique voice that we each need to share, in our own way. One of my ways is writing. At this point, if I don’t continue I would be saying no to God; I would be telling Him I am not going to give this part of myself. As difficult as sharing my writing can be, it would be even harder for me to tell God no. It wasn’t until recently that I started to get some insight into this side of me. At first, I figured getting nervous was a part of putting oneself out there–I would get used to it. In some ways this is true. For me, there is more to the anxiety and self-doubt. Part of my journey is working through those issues.
I know everyone struggles with vulnerability. You may not be putting yourself out there sharing your art; it may be something else because most of us worry about rejection, being misunderstood, getting hurt. We censor ourselves, tip-toe around, shirk about and keep people, experiences, and vulnerable situations at arm’s length. We instinctively protect ourselves, and this can stunt our growth and our love for God and people.
“Do not be afraid.” Over and over, Jesus repeated those four words. You do not know who you could bless, help, or friend if you put yourself out there and take a chance. When we purposely make ourselves vulnerable, we are then open to others and not turned inwards. One of my favorite writers says it best:
“There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.” –C.S. Lewis