I often wonder if I have anything meaningful to say, to write about. Sometimes, I believe that I don’t because there are things so much more important than my life and feelings. Ya know, like this bullshit in the White House or immigrant children being detained at the border (or, or, or - pretty much everything in the world is more important than my privileged life in the U.S.).
But then I remember a passage in Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert that talked about how her friend went to help some women that had been in prison camps. Her friend was worried that she wouldn’t know how to help these women deal with the traumas they faced. When she got there, she was surprised to find that the women were not asking her how to come to terms with war or dying. They talked about love - why he said he’d call but didn’t, whether he really loved her, if he was having an affair. In other words, the experiences and the feelings I have aren’t just mine. Nor do those you have solely belong to you.
They all - in some way - speak to a larger, more universal truth or consequence.
And that inspires me to write past the limits of how I think other people will receive my writing. Will they be offended by something I say? Will they feel welcomed and at home with my words?
Will they go digging online until they find that I have made the most insignificant statement about them in a piece like 3 people have read? Will they see this and text me about it?
I don’t know and it doesn’t really matter.
Everyone is always going to think something about you. Certainly, everyone always seems to have something to say about what I do - how I write, what I write, how I parent, how I believe. And the truth is, I hate it when people say negative things about me. Who doesn’t?
But what I’ve come to learn is that as long as you let other people have control over your life, especially if that comes in the form of having to moderate who you are and what you’re about so other people don’t feel threatened or uncomfortable, the longer you will find yourself doubting the sanctity of your own relationship with life.
The more times I stop myself in the middle of shrinking, the easier it gets. Just like not wanting to rock the boat and becoming less of yourself so other people don’t have to face being uncomfortable with themselves is a habit, so is not shrinking.
I don’t always succeed at this. In fact, I find myself moderating my words quite often. This isn’t all bad - I know I have a quick tongue when I get upset. I’m learning that so often whatever it is I want to say isn’t really worth saying and I’m glad I’ve learned to bite my tongue. But there are other times when I lean too far in the other direction, choosing docile compliance rather than to start World War 3. I’m learning to find the balance, the correct timing, and the grace to sit with my discomfort.
It helps to remember that, one day, I will process all of this through pen and paper or fingers and keyboard and I will be better for having had to learn the hard way that some people’s opinions really just don’t matter. You just do you, boo. This is the only life you get in this body - do you really want to spend it worried about what other people think of you? Or do you want to spend it breathing in all of the magic around you and loving fully every moment you can?