You Wanted Girlfriends, Right?

I don’t like being challenged. I don’t like people challenging my mindset, beliefs, goals, feelings, habits, actions… you get the point. I don’t like being accountable to other people. Still, I’m the one who has been asking for better friendships, and better friendships are meant to push us past ourselves.

One of the reasons I don’t like being challenged is because I hate having to defend myself. I am an incredibly reflective person and I often need time to gather my thoughts and figure out the best way to approach a topic. Having to defend myself on the spot means there’s no time to rehearse my point of view or gather supporting sources for the information I present. I have to think “on the fly,” and that is not easy for me, so I end up stumbling over my words and seeming unsure of my position which—as someone who deals with anxiety—makes me want to retreat into myself where all the challenging voices are my own.

The thing is, I can’t continue to do that if I want my friendships to be deeper and stronger. My attempts at avoiding the discomfort of confrontation tend to translate to others as passive-aggression, and that leads to a host of other problems in the relationship, including more confrontation. I learned that over the weekend. I learned that even when I try to deal with my feelings alone, my friends are still affected, and it causes them hurt and frustration as well. I learned I can hash out an issue with a friend in a way that allows us to express ourselves, hear each other, create solutions, and move forward.

I also learned that I can be proud of things I participate in even if they don’t “look” like me.

I’ve spent a lot of my life in conservative Christianity. Not like the conservative evangelicals who are picketing outside abortion clinics and trying to destroy democracy and who are not actually a reflection of Christ at all; but the ones who believe in waiting until marriage to have sex, dressing modestly, and “guarding the avenues of your heart” by avoiding certain types of entertainment and conversations. Because of that upbringing, I have held parts of myself back for a long time and molded myself to that image when navigating public spaces.

Over the past few months, I have been enjoying a new project (a podcast) with one of my cousins and one of her friends who has quickly become one of my friends. The thing that makes it so interesting is we have had drastically different upbringings and we have very different personalities and views as well, yet we tend to come together on a lot of subjects. These women don’t navigate the world from a place of restriction the way I have been, so they are able to discuss things with much more freedom than I feel.

I find myself still concerned with the way other people will see me and the assumptions they will make about me, especially from a conservative or professional lens, and I let that affect me in that I have not been publicly sharing the podcast. And it came to a head in recent weeks after our last episode came out.

Keep in mind, I am actively evaluating and reframing perspectives that were built on religious traditions and imposed upon me, and I do not subscribe to the traditional view of “professionalism,” however, I found myself in a place of discomfort and uncertainty.

Although I have always stayed true to myself in our conversations, I am also used to having certain conversations in private and I was concerned about how I would be viewed—personally and as a professional who is trying to gain new career opportunities—by those hearing the conversation. I started to question whether or not this was something I wanted to continue participating in. But I had to realize that not everything I participate in is going to look like me. In all honesty, most things I participate in aren’t going to look like me. Heck, my religious community doesn’t even look like me.

The podcast is a reflection of us. There are three of us with very different ways of speaking and understanding and living, and so long as I stay true to my authentic self when I open my mouth (or type up a message), it should not matter if the conversation goes in a different direction than I anticipated. Because, as a whole, this podcast has forced us all to grow, to learn, and to be accountable to ourselves. It has given me girlfriends. And as challenging as that can be sometimes, I asked for it, and it’s what I needed.

Writing Journal: What If I Never Have a Project Published?

I was thinking last week about one of many projects I’m working on. There have been several times that I go back over something I’ve written and love the “sound” of my writing voice. But then the wheels get to turning and I wonder if anyone else loves my writing voice.

Let’s be honest, I don’t get much traction on either of these blogs, and sometimes I wonder why I keep doing it. But the answer is simple—I do it because I like it. I like putting certain thoughts out into the universe and having something to physically look at to see how my ideas and opinions have changed (or not) over time.

Also, if even one person reads something on one of my blogs and feels a little less alone out there, then that’s enough for me to keep going a bit longer.

But I’m not really talking about my blogs here. I’m talking about this tiny book of essays I’ve got waiting for someone to read it, and this little book of short stories I’m working on, and whatever future novel I decide to dig my heels into writing. What if none of those get published? What if no one wants to read them?

There’s something to be said about self-publishing. I mean, if you want your work out there at any cost it is a viable option. But isn’t the dream to have some big publishing house think you’re awesome and want to pay you for your work and promote it?

That’s my dream. One of many, at any rate.

But what if it doesn’t happen? Am I content with self-publishing? I mean, sure, if my work gets enough attention it could be picked up by a publisher later, but we’re talking about never here. We’re talking about self-publishing and selling 50 books to my parents, a couple family members, a friend or two, and some of my mom’s work friends who would buy a copy just because they love my mother.

What happens then? Do I stop writing? Do I bring myself right back to this empty little blog corner? Do I write something else and try to make it better? What if I can’t write any better?

I know it sounds like I’m being self-deprecating, but I’m really just wondering what my capacity for failure and resilience is.

I know I ask more questions than I give answers, but that’s what life is. Some questions can only be answered through experience.

Happy writing!


Writing Journal: Revealing Too Much

I was reading through some of my essays last week and I had to pause and ask myself if I was saying too much. The essays are based on the way I remember certain events in my life, and some of them deal greatly with other members of my family.

One essay in particular deals with my feelings about being “gifted” a sweatsuit one Christmas when my other cousins got pretty dresses. I touch on how that affected me in general, but also how it made me think of the aunt who gave that gift (still using gift lightly here). Reading over it, I thought of what my aunt or my mom would think about that particular piece, and if it would cause any sort of tension.

See, I have a habit of seriously considering other people’s feelings, sometimes at the expense of my own desires. It goes against the live your truth narrative, but it’s one of my spectacular personality traits (read that sarcastically). So what do I do? And is there really such a thing as revealing too much when the story is about me and how I experience the world?

I guess the first thing to note is that just because I wrote it doesn’t mean someone is going to publish it. But what if I decide to self-publish? Should I allow the individuals who have leading roles in particular essays to read them before I finalize the work? Do I have a responsibility to consider the feelings of others when discussing my personal experiences just because they were involved?

I’m tossing these questions “out there” in hopes that I’ll get the answers I need—be it from you, God, the Universe, or my internal narrator.

What do you think is too much when it comes to writing stories that involve people in your personal life? How do you handle the complexity of it all?

Let me know.

Happy writing!