Writing about Writing

Writing about writing involves thinking about writing, or even better, thinking about thinking about writing! (Yay! Meta-level thinking!) If I stay here too long it can feel really out of control really fast. But, in short bursts the feelings of ambiguity and possibility are bearable to entertain.

Anyway, I haven’t posted recently because I’ve been over on ravishly.com living the dream as a contributing writer! Here’s my contributor page: YAY!!!! Similarly, I’ve been over on themighty.com (here) writing about chronic pain.

Writing has been the most amazing outlet for me! It’s helped me find space, give voice to my words, and speak my truth – that’s super powerful. When I’ve felt most “stuck”, both with things I’m dealing with and how to write about them, I’ve read the piece aloud and recorded myself with the inflection, tone, and emotion I heard in my head, and would have used in a conversation with a good friend. After listening to the recording and following along with my words I was able to overcome the “stuckness” and finish the piece. Writing is a welcomed, reliable, trustworthy companion these days. When I’m writing I notice nothing else. I retreat to a state of flow. I feel at peace. Maybe even happy? It’s allowed me to think fully in a way I have truly missed.

I didn’t even recognize this feeling – this change – until I stopped and acknowledge how refreshing and unfamiliar it feels to think coherently again! My friends said, “I feel like you’re back”. I nodded confidently. Slowly but surely, I’m finding parts of myself that disappeared months ago.

My words are stamping the world with imprints that are illustrative of the messiness of life. Through my work, I’m declaring “dealt with” (mostly) the things I’ve kept to myself or ignored for WAY too long. It’s liberating! The experience of spewing my thoughts, taking a break, and revisiting and reorganizing what I’m trying to say has helped me feel calmer, express myself, and gain a sense of connection I didn’t realize I’d find with myself and people across the world – literally.

I wrote this a few weeks ago and it still resonates with me: The last six months of my life have been the most challenging I’ve experienced in a while. I graduated and left a school where I was thriving. I spent nearly every day for four years feeling on top of the world. It was amazing. I felt unstoppable. I left for a glamorous name and what I expected would be the next best step for my personal and professional development. After months of struggling silently I found respite and strength in writing. Rather than just reading (daily) the articles on sites that share my values and teach me so much, I jumped into my own uncharted space and started to connect with myself and others. It’s been hugely influential to my personal growth and exploration. Earlier I wrote, “from fury comes insight.” That’s how I feel when I tame the chaos I’m experiencing by writing. This feminist writing space has shown me that people “get” that not every day can be a good day and I can tell others understand that academia can be a difficult and special space to reside especially in the face of other challenges and experiences.

The type of connection, belonging, validation, and excitement I’ve felt from my friends online is inexplicable. This journey has introduced me to some incredible, down-to-earth, empathetic people who are practically the hidden treasures of internet (they’re also just people but I’m glorifying them here because they’ve made a difference to me. Internet fame is real!).

When I’m writing, I can be myself and share my thoughts. It actually feels really vulnerable, exposed, and terrifying! Sometimes I get “stage-fright” and want to swallow my words back up or not claim them as my own. In those moments, I take the the Shonda Rhimes “yes” approach – even though it scares me. I have to own this!

Recently, I shared that I traded social media connections for authentic, personal connections. In this context, I valued in person conversations, and quality over quantity. I still value quality relationships but my parameters have expanded. Connecting with people online showed me that these connections can also be authentic, valuable, personal connections. I’ve found more people who “get it” and been more open about my experiences than I ever anticipated. I’m loving cultivating meaningful relationships as a I grow as a writer, academic, and activist.

I have discovered the world of shared experiences and stories. I feel closer and more whole than I expected or thought was possible. There’s a world out there where people absolutely get it and care. I realized that even though I feel lonely,  I am not alone. That was necessary.


 

If you’re experiencing writer’s block (or loneliness), keep writing! As much as you can, keep exploring, connecting, wondering, asking, and thinking! It’s an adventure, and in the end, it could turn out to be like nothing you ever anticipated – it might even be better!

 

 

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What I Learned from Disconnecting

A few weeks ago, I gained some inspiration and some courage and returned to blogging after a couple years of hiatus. I wrote this post, Contrasting Being Connected with Just Connections, and was honored to have it shared on a friend’s page, Organized Babble. While initially, the reposting, sharing, and tweeting of this post was exciting after just a few hours it was exhausting and also seriously anxiety provoking. Nearly a week later, I deleted the post from my own Facebook page and then a week after that (approximately) I deleted my own Facebook page. If you want to know more about why I deleted Facebook or about me in general you can listen to my segment on Storries (the Facebook stuff starts at 51:20) a weekly Public Affairs talk show on UConn’s radio station, WHUS.  I haven’t been on Facebook for nearly a month and while I initially thought I’d miss it, I’m actually happier than I’ve ever been.

Considering that statement I just made, you might be wondering why I’d start a blog. Why I’d purposely create another social media platform to maintain and interact with on a regular basis. I actually am wondering that too. There’s a few reasons:

  1. I think too much. I spend a lot of time trying to convince myself and others that I don’t “reflect”. The truth is, I do. We all do. The difference for me is, I don’t think about myself all that much. However, without the distraction of everyone else’s lives and the ease of “virtual people watching” on Facebook, I’ve had more time to think about me and now it’s becoming a lot to process. I think we call that flooding. Anyway, it’s overwhelming. AND, while that’s all well and good (and apparently part of life and growing up) now I’ve come to a crucial crossroad where I’m entertaining more thoughts about my own life than ever before and I have less people available to process and converse with me. So then there’s blogging. It’s actually for me.
  2. I do well with order and routines. If I say to myself “I’ll tackle one of these things each week and write a post about it” then it’ll get done. Somehow the internet has a strange way of holding people accountable. I doubt anyone will notice if I don’t write a post (hey, they didn’t notice when I deleted Facebook) but there’s something compelling about the obligations that we create for ourselves in the virtual world. Sociologists believe that everyone has a desire to know or feel that they matter to someone. I think the internet helps us with that yearning. Here’s how, even if nobody replies, verifies that they’ve read this, or challenges my viewpoint, my voice (figuratively) is out there! And maybe, my words will influence someone. And if I’m not reaching anyone then, I’m held accountable to the “stats” tab on this blog, reminding me that I didn’t take space for me.
  3. My physical list of “things I want to write about” is getting longer than the list of things I’ve tackled. Now, some things I’m admittedly not ready to write out for the world, but this is a perfect space for everyday wonderings. Which, I’ve had WAY more of now that I’m not held captive by social media and the need to convince everyone that I’m living a seemingly perfect life or know what everyone else is “up to”.  Plus, typing is faster!
  4. Loneliness is real.  Another contradiction if I’m writing a post lauding being relatively disconnected. Remember I over think things. I’m in the midst of a huge transition in my life and what’s accompanied that is a lot, LOT of self discovery. More than I know how to handle. Remember I said that there have been fewer people around to entertain my conversations? Well, I miss them! Seriously, I miss them every day! And, while I’m figuring out my life in a new school, academic field, city, new friendships, roommates, jobs, I’m feeling really lonely. I want to write, call, text, email, and visit with all the people who have made a difference to me, who have supported and encouraged me, but the truth is, they have lives that don’t always include me. I watched a great TED talk recently  (side note: I love TED talks, so more to come!) called “Why we all need to practice emotional first aid” and psychologist Guy Winch made a point that really resonated with me. He said, “Loneliness creates a deep psychological wound, one that distorts our perceptions and scrambles our thinking. It makes us believe that those around us care much less than they actually do. It make us really afraid to reach out, because why set yourself up for rejection and heartache when your heart is already aching more than you can stand?”  I can absolutely relate to this – p.s. I sent this talk to my friend and she never got back to me.

This post is called, “What I Learned from Disconnecting” but after writing it, I think it would have been better titled “Why I Started a Blog”. What I learned was that there’s more to learn and explore about me and that I have some serious self work to do. I learned that I am not motivated by constant comparison and I AM my biggest critic. I learned that I crave meaningful relationships and that the influential people in my life taught me more than I knew at the time. I miss them. I also learned (if I was saying this aloud I’d look away and talk really quietly) that reflection is difficult, scary, and overwhelming but also SO necessary. So, I’m starting this project to be more self aware, to make space to wonder, and to “publish” my thoughts in a space where I won’t feel like I’m being a burden to anyone.

Welcome!