So what’s stopping you?
Lately I’ve had several conversations with women who want to start writing but seem overwhelmed with reasons that they shouldn’t. My best advice: just start writing and don’t worry about what other people think.
So often in life we don’t jump on opportunities to speak out on issues important to us, have fun, live out loud, or otherwise break free from the herd because– we’re worried what other people think. “Oh no!” we worry. “They might think I’m different, or weird, or inferior, or…” Hold up– you were created to be one of a kind. You were not intended to be like everyone else.
I talk to a lot of women, who, like me, are survivors. We’ve been through some very dark, unjust, and even horrifying experiences that our abusers and accusers want us to be quiet about. We’re supposed to be meek little quiet snarls of fear and anxiety who tiptoe through life making sure we don’t upset anyone.
Enough of that. Seriously. For years I stayed quiet about the repeated threats against my life and the professional slander I endured for choosing to stay alive. I just about burst, because I’m an activist personality and it’s not in my nature to stay quiet about injustice. I was helping absolutely no one, including myself, by staying quiet. As a matter a fact, I was just enabling some of the evils that continued to endure.
Ponder this: as T.D. Jakes says, God intends you to take your misery… and turn it into your ministry. When we have been through hell and walked out alive by the grace of God, don’t we have a duty to reach out to others still drowning in the pits of despair? Are we just supposed to keep walking along, oblivious to the suffering all around us, or flex the muscles we’ve developed through these trials and haul others out of the darkness?
Writing about your experiences, whether as a therapeutic exercise or to help others, doesn’t mean you have to share every detail of your ordeal or put yourself at risk by sharing too much. It can mean being very real and calling abuse, rape, violence, bigotry, hatred, harassment, stalking, and other violations out for what they are. It can mean calling certain people and organizations out for participating in those behaviors. Basically, you want to shine a spotlight on the wrongs in our world to save others from similar fates.
Who cares what they think? And who are “they” anyway? Chew on this truth: “they” shouldn’t matter. Why should you let bitter, selfish, hate-filled, dysfunctional hypocrites hold you back? Why would you let them have any control over your life? If you don’t speak your mind as a writer because you can picture “them” sitting there swearing and saying what an idiot and attention seeker you are as they make noises that in their bigoted minds they think “retarded” people make– please, step out of their shadow and start shining like the star you really are.
Yes, when you post your thoughts publicly, like on a blog, your efforts can attract trolls and Klingons. Some might read your material obsessively and then tell others how ridiculous you are. You know what those people are, though? They’re sport haters. They have nothing better to do with their lives than belittle, stalk, bully, harass, and attack people who are trying to be real and do good. Their behavior doesn’t say anything about you. It says everything about them. How sad that some people find such delight in trying to create misery for others, and what a terrible price they’ll pay in the end if they keep it up.
Some people don’t know how to find their voice or know what their shtick is. You’ll find your voice and your niche as you go along. You just need to start writing. Developing your message, your style, your theme… that will all come to you if you just start pushing buttons. You learn by practice. You will get better as you go along. How did you learn to walk? You just started walking, right? In short order you were running through the yard with orange popsicle on your face guffawing with glee.
If you try to have everything perfectly planned out before you ever get a word onto the page, you’ll probably never get a word onto the page. The words already exist inside of you, you just need to start letting them flow out of your fingers. It’s like tapping a maple tree– the syrup’s already in there, you just need to get it pouring into a bucket. Once that raw material comes loose, it can change the world.
One of my mantras comes from Dr. Seuss: Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. Isn’t that a wonderful thought? If you are trying to help others and shine a light into the darkness, you’ll draw others to you who will identify with some of your thoughts and appreciate your honesty. There’s so much mindless drivel in print, especially on the web– we need more real, honest, justice-driven women to speak out and fight for what’s good and pure and holy.
Make a decision right now– that you will not allow your past to hold you back and you’ll start letting your thoughts spill onto the keyboard. You might well attract some disturbed people, but just ignore them, or if they threaten or stalk you, document what they’re doing and take legal action as needed. Other women need to hear what you have to say. You have a unique story and only so many years to tell it.
The more I hear other women’s stories, the more I recognize the common threads that weave our experiences together. And the more I realize that these are things we should have all heard years, even decades ago. Imagine the pain many of us could have avoided if we’d just known what domestic violence or rape really was when we were younger. Imagine how many other people could have been saved from that same pain if we’d exposed our violators much earlier.
If you are wondering how to start or what to say or how to be appealing or how not to offend people, stop thinking. Those are the same brick walls that have kept you from sharing your gifts with the world for years. The fact that you are battling with these things at all tells me that there are words on the inside fighting to get out. Those sentences and paragraphs and soliloquies and poems are swelling in your soul, surging against the walls of your heart, rising toward freedom. How much longer are you going to keep them locked inside?
In closing, use caution when you share your personal battles and heartaches on the web or in other public venues. Be selective about what you’re willing to let the whole world know. Blood always attracts predators, especially men who form a quick (fake) bond based on supposed shared experiences. But you have a story, and it is a web of tears and laughter, darkness and light, rejection and redemption that could well inspire someone else to break free of the slavery they’re living in.
Who knows– by sharing your thoughts, you might even save a life.
If Jesus had tried to make everyone happy, we would all be lost. If self-centered people are angry at you, it means you are learning to say no to evil. If mean people are displeased with you, it means that you are standing up to abuse. If pharisaical Christians judge you, it means that you are becoming like your Savior. If your parents don’t like the decisions that you as an adult feel God has led you to make, it means that you are growing up. –Henry Cloud
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