A Year of Writing on Medium
Hi friend! Can I call you friend?
I’ve been posting these rather revealing posts for a year now. If you’re reading this, we’re connecting in a way that makes us more than strangers. As a favorite meditation guide Saqib Rizvi says, “I deeply love every person who I get connected through meditation.” I feel a version of that here on Medium. It may not be a normal conversation, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real. I’ve grown substantially from our engagement over the last year, as much or more than from normal chatter in my daily life.
Writing is something I have always enjoyed doing. But aside from school papers, some newsletters for work, and several fizzled Squarespace blogs, I didn’t do it publicly. I held back. I thought I needed more life experience or a much better story to compete for your attention. It’s one thing to blab on and on for myself, but entirely different to say something with the intention to share. I felt very overwhelmed by the unknown of how it would be received. Could I stand it if nobody liked it?
In altMBA, Seth Godin’s team and my cohort helped me revise that narrative. I realized I wasn’t benefiting anyone by idling in a low self-esteem zone. I wasn’t accomplishing much for the greater good. I wasn’t growing. When a friend in the program, Aaron Blum, initiated a weekly public writing group a year ago, I joined. I hoped accountability would help me deliver consistently, and I was galvanized from the altMBA to take bold action. At least I would prove to myself I could do it, and I sensed there may be even deeper rewards.
It has turned into one of my favorite practices.
Writing is a way of thinking. Whereas my unwritten thoughts ramble on in 14 different directions at once and then fizzle out into a gasp of smoke, writing allows me to nurture an ember. I’m able to reign some of the chaos into a digestible meal. I’m able to make sense of an idea that was formerly ineffable. I uncover layers, form deeper insights, often surprising myself with the words that tumble out.
It’s been fascinating to notice how I decide what to put next, where each next step in a post leads. There are many options, but something emerges as the way. I think honing this instinct is one of the scariest and most rewarding aspects of a writing practice. Is this leading me into being a better writer with a distinct voice or am I repeating mistakes over and over making change more difficult?
I regularly try to question my thought processes and techniques. I question what I’m really trying to say, why, and to whom. I study how others make decisions and how they craft their stories. It’s important to ask these questions of myself and still put something out there every week. I don’t always have the answers — these questions tend to beget new ones — but I grow with each cycle. Waiting for perfection means never doing anything and I’ve come to see that as the only true failure in life.
Writing is a process of emotional labor, but it’s also emotional catharsis. It’s a huge relief to start typing and feel this subconscious elephant in my brain take shape. I usually don’t realize how much energy I’ve been using by either fixating on or turning away from this formless black hole. After I share my draft with my group, I feel an exhilarating emotional lightness. I have given language to a ghost. A layer of my subconscious has been revealed.
The relief of this process alone has helped me set aside my former insecurity. But I didn’t realize how much sharing my thoughts would help me grow as a person. It’s like letting sunlight and air into a previously darkened room. The potted plants inside that were once dormant now grow. There’s movement; cool breezes; connection and laughter. I always enjoyed being in that room, even when it was solitary and still and cloaked in shadows. I have a dark, absurd sense of humor and I like my alone time. But this has been a period of enlightenment and sincerity and I have enjoyed every moment. I would have been too cynical to expect that in the past.
I have given language to a ghost.
A layer of my subconscious has been revealed.
Writing publicly has helped me have more integrity in my life. It’s almost a year since I stopped drinking, and writing through this time has given me incredible insight into the issues that turned me into a heavy drinker in my teens. It helped me examine the role alcohol played in my life and helped me explore new ways of coping. It connected me to many, many others who are re-evaluating their use of alcohol and have cut down or opted out. One article was selected by Human Parts curators and still gets readers eight months later. It is so meaningful that people are connecting with a post long after I wrote it. That is not an experience one can have without sharing their work.
Writing publicly has helped me be more honest and brave. I want to be fully human, not someone filtering only the most palatable parts of myself. I want to be raw and full of flaws and emotional and insightful and creative and always striving to be better. I want to express my sexuality and my fears and usher in a healing that can unleash me from my insecurity and trauma and bad habits, a healing that can support the incredible life I have and continue to deepen. I want to keep shining light into the depths of my psyche so that I can understand myself and be a mirror for others. The only way through is through.
Writing publicly has helped me be more honest and brave.
I appreciate all of you who are on the trek with me. I know you have your own journeys that are just as rich and surprising. That’s what makes for a great friend though, isn’t it? I’m sure that’s why we’re both here.
This year is only the beginning. Writing has opened my mind to consider more ambitious opportunities. I used to long for them. I am no longer afraid to pursue. I will forever be grateful to Medium for providing such a stylish and functional place to make this progress. I feel like I learned to fly on here.
I highly recommend committing to the magical process of writing publicly. It’s essential that we dive deep within so we can tackle our demons and mine our rare gems, sharing to connect with others.
I want that from you, my friend. Even if you’re unsure and apprehensive. Especially if you’re unsure and apprehensive. There’s gold down there, inside your psyche. There’s someone different you are waiting to become.
I want to see it. I’m right here with you. Ready for you to put your fingers on the keys and simply… begin.