I love writing.
And yet, at times, I’m afraid of it.
A blinking cursor on a blank page is exciting. It’s the anticipation of what is about to be created. It’s that feeling of possibility.
And yet, at times, I’m afraid of it, because a blinking cursor on a blank page also brings the fear of what might never be created. It’s that feeling of possible failure.
I sit there, fingers hovering over the keys, balancing both feelings at the same time. Do I choose to reveal my truest self, or do I allow the fear to edit what I say and hold me back?
As a child, I used to trace the drawings of other artists, hoping one day all the effort put into emulating their designs would somehow magically help mine to become just as beautiful and worthy of being seen. It seemed like every time I tried to draw from my own imagination, the shape was all wrong, and it never seemed to possess the same creative style of the artists I admired.
So, I’d feel inferior.
Which is when my shame would grow louder.
“What if the fatal flaw isn’t my lack of skill but my lack of worth? What if there isn’t anything inside of me worth seeing?”
When I was young, I assumed because my pictures weren’t drawn with a particular skill or style that it meant my drawings were inferior. It felt personal, as if I was placing more than ink onto the page, as if I was etching who I was into that piece of art. Its quality felt equal to my worth. Even worse, once the ink was on the page, I couldn’t control what people thought of it – what they thought of me. I wanted to be seen. But, I wasn’t sure it was really me – my authentic self – who people wanted to see.
The fear and shame told me that only those who clearly measure up are allowed to show up.
So, I quit showing up. I stopped showing my original drawings. Instead, I only showed drawings I had traced, hoping no one would recognize it was a copy, and enjoying the confidence of knowing it was a design people had already embraced.
It can be tempting to just imitate what other people around us are doing, in order to feel as if what we are doing is good enough. It can be tempting to edit out the ways in which we perceive we – aren’t good enough, keeping them to ourselves because we are ashamed they might make us look inferior. It is tempting because fear will tell us to avoid the vulnerability of showing up unless we can guarantee we will measure up.
In the years since then, I have come to realize that showcasing a self we’ve copied from someone else doesn’t ever really help us feel seen. It’s only when we do the vulnerable and brave work of showing our authentic self that we feel seen. Do this long enough, and you discover something new about measuring up; it doesn’t exist.
We show up with our authentic self because worth is not a standard to measure up to but a reality to live out.
I sit at my computer, and I watch the cursor appear and disappear, awaiting my decision. Waiting for me to choose: fear or authenticity?
I don’t always know what words will find their way onto the page. I don’t always know if anyone else will deem them worth seeing. But – I will show up. The words will be mine. And I will give myself a chance to be authentically seen.
I will practice the art of that.