On the eve of 2018, I jumped into the New Year full of blind optimism and writing resolutions, telling myself I would write an article every week. It had been a year since I'd last shared my writing with the world, and a comeback was way overdue. I'd already launched an account on Medium.com and written my first post, so I was all set. I was going to do this!
Oh, the lies we tell ourselves...
The year went by. Not a single post since the one I'd written on Medium on the 30 lessons I'd learnt from life. I continued to write for myself, dabbled in fiction by working on a short story and then a novel (WIP), participated in writing workshops, but published nothing.
2019 dawned. New year, new me. This was it, this year I would start publishing again! I renewed my writing vows by lowering the pressure on myself, setting a goal of writing and publishing one piece a month. Doable, right?
Doable maybe, but again—nada. It's almost June and I've got nothin'.
There was something holding me back, an inexpressible fear that had frozen my insides and subsequently my fingers from doing any typing that wasn't for myself or my writing circle. It was weird, because I'd built a decent writing portfolio in my mid-twenties, but for the last 2 years or so, have been unable to expand on it significantly, save for gloriously detailed captions for daily Instagram posts whenever I'm traveling, which I thoroughly enjoy writing and sharing.
So this is my attempt to acknowledge that fear and court it. It seems to be a part of me for now, so I've decided to kill the awkward silence between us have a conversation with it.
Me: Hi there, you seem to be lost.
Fear: On the contrary, I feel quite at home here.
Me: What exactly brought you here?
Fear: I sniffed a rising insecurity which invited me in. I feel very comfortable around it. It helps me grow.
Me: That makes one of us.
Fear: You can't blame me for your insecurities.
Me: Yes I can! No, wait. This is a trap, isn't it? If I blame you, I'll be evading responsibility.
Me: Damn you...
If I'm honest with myself, what seems to be holding me back the most from writing the articles I want to write is a fear of being rejected by the media outlets I want to see my work in, coupled with a resounding "Who am I to write about this?" echoing in my head over and over again when I want to write about things I haven't written about or discussed before. What if someone asks me that?
I attended a workshop last month on brand storytelling led by Brian Hallett, a professor at IE Business School in Madrid, and had a conversation with him afterwards about the career switches he'd made and how he'd gotten into them. After ten years of working in a particular field, he got the opportunity of being an apprentice to a famous photographer, and debated whether or not to take it. He asked himself, "What's the worst that'll happen?" It wouldn't work out, and he may have to move back into his parents' house for a year at most. He decided he could deal with that, and took the job. He went on to making it big in photography, working with celebrities and MNCs (he showed us some stunning photos during the workshop while introducing us to a concept called collaborative portraiture, but that's a post for another day).
That conversation really shifted my mindset and I haven't stopped thinking about it since. I'd read about this question before, but it was different hearing it from someone who'd actually applied it to his life and had experienced success as a result.
So, what exactly is the worst that will happen if I resume writing?
- My work will get rejected. But it's not like it's being printed anyway so at least I'll have tried. And if I do get rejected, I'll know what I need to work more on.
- The accusatory voice in my head will be one outside my head. To counter that, research. I'll continue to share my work with people I trust to give me honest critiques. And if I have detractors, well, I can't please everyone anyway and I shouldn't ever try to.
So here's what's going to happen. I'm going to use this space to pen my thoughts, not just to overcome my fears, but to gain more introspection and record reflections, experiences and observations. I'm also to act fast on a writing decision before any insecurities rise and regenerate an Impostor Syndrome or invite the fear back in.
Because life's way too short to waste that much time being incapacitated over the fear of what other people may think.