Fear of self expression

The Backwords Writer has been around for a long time. My followers started dropping off some years after I started the blog. Less and less people commented. I can still go back and look at the posts I wrote in high school– Ye Gods! –and when I see them, I blanch. This morning I started thinking about that.

I’ve been doing a lot of ruminating on my writing, what I might do to improve it, and where it lacks power. As I think about my original posts on The Backwords Writer, I remember how frightfully embarrassed I was when I went back and looked them over years later. I was so honest, so forthright, so pitifully raw in the way I wrote! Followers and commenters began to drop off when . . . you guessed it . . . I started hiding. Somehow, I developed a fear of self expression. I began to worry about what other people would think. I second-guessed every sentence, thinking it might be “inappropriate”.

Me in 2004, before my fear of expressing myself set in.

Me in 2004, before my fear of expressing myself set in.

Every fear I have is rooted in my childhood. I remember how rambunctious I was as a kid, and how much I loved doing somersaults. I distinctly remember the day that I decided to do a somersault, and then stopped. Suddenly I was terrified of somersaults. What if I land the wrong way and hurt my neck? What if I break something? 

I could dissect this until I’m blue in the face. The fact is, I believed the things I heard when I was younger– Why do you do that? What’s wrong with you? –and I allowed it to mold me. Thus, I am now afraid of self expression.

That’s what my writing is lacking. My fear goes right to my fingertips. As the words pour out of me, there’s a filter in there, and it catches all the things people might not like, or might disagree with, or might disapprove of. And all of a sudden I’m this boring version of myself, reduced to hiding behind a veil so no one finds out who I really am.

I remember sitting in the car with a friend of mine one evening. We were on our way to have dinner together.

“I’m the most boring person you’ll ever meet,” I said.

He looked me right in the eye and retorted, “I think you just say that so people won’t get to know the real you.”

He was right. I wonder if he knows how much that influenced me?

The Backwords Writer has been around for a long time. This is the new generation. And with that, I bid farewell to my fear of self expression. From now on, I’m going to be raw, honest, and forthright. I’m going to be myself.

If you don’t like it, read somebody else’s blog. This morning I did a lot of thinking. I’m on my second cup of coffee, and I’ve had a revelation. My writing needs to be better. I need to get better. Let the healing begin.

Me in Islamorada in January of 2013.

Me in Islamorada, Florida, in January of 2013, on my way back from the Key West Literary Seminar.

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2 responses to “Fear of self expression

  1. I think this post is an excellent step in the direction of rawness! Thanks for having the courage to talk about this sensitive subject. I, too, often find myself censoring my writing, trying to hide things, but that’s the opposite of the point, isn’t it? And it’s the writing I do that really takes risks that connects with the most people, I find. Cheers to you!

    • Thanks so much for stopping by, Sharon! It does take a lot of courage to bare your soul. And you’re doing it with your memoir! 🙂 Memoir is, I think, the best way to get over this fear.

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