A lot of what we write about on this site is about writing, but it goes deeper than that. We have struggled with speaking up and figuring out what we want to say, and these are not concerns reserved for writers. Anyone trying to make something of his/her life gets shy at times and holds back. When we do this, a little bit of the fire inside dies. If we keep doing it, we arrive at the end of our lives as unrecognizable versions of ourselves.
Putting aside devastating health or financial issues, there are universal forces that stand in the way of people finding their voice and becoming who they want to be.
- Cultural mores and norms. This is the way people “like you” are supposed to act. When you act or speak differently, you go against the grain and it feels uncomfortable, for you and those around you.
- Personal Critiques. Errant comments said directly to you that you believe to be true (you are stupid, fat, not good enough, the wrong gender/race/sexual orientation/religion/etc.) carry inordinate weight. You may have been told this once, perhaps as a child, and yet you still let this false statement rule your days.
- FEAR. Also known as False Evidence Appearing as Real, an apt way to describe worry. When you worry – about what might happen, potential loss, losing control, or anything else – you make up false outcomes and become paralyzed by their possibility.
- Saboteurs. Other people criticize and sabotage your efforts because your discovery of your voice threatens their own ego. In fact, we are our own saboteurs at times. People – including us – who act in small ways deserve our attention in equal measure, i.e. not at all.
These are powerful forces, and they toss us around like tiny boats on an angry sea. Just when we conquer our fear, a saboteur strikes and we fall back, buffeted by winds we never saw coming.
It takes courage to keep fighting for your life. It’s less overwhelming if you work on holding your center each day.
Believe you are creative, resourceful, and whole. You have all the answers inside you; look for them.
Practice compassion. Everyone carries a lot of baggage and burden. Have realistic expectations of yourself and others. Give people the benefit of the doubt.
Listen for what’s really being said. Is it about you? Rarely. Whatever it is can’t distract you if it has no meaning for you.
Live your own dream. Set up some lifetime goals. Hold fiercely to that vision of your life and don’t live someone else’s.
Find people who care. They are on your side and want you to become fully yourself.
None of this is easy. It’s far more interesting, though, than living half a life. You will never be bored or bitter. You will find strength you did not know you had, and love in places you least expect. Your curiosity will fuel the fire of your creativity.
Ultimately, you will express your truth in your way, with compassion, and you will be heard.