Times Square, New York
For the past two months or so, I’ve very purposefully refrained from openly publishing any of my written work online (unless you count the occasional discussion-driving Facebook post).
I wanted to live life for a bit, y’know? I wanted to see what the world would be like without the same public introspection I’ve grown accustomed to for the past 10+ years. I was done with the feedback. Done with feeling as though I was living for others. Done with this idea that my life should be driven by comments, traffic, nods of approval or critical dissections. And after several weeks of purely aggressive life-living chanting this anti-publishing mantra, after days on end of existing just for me, I must admit: I’ve really enjoyed the silence.
There’s something so peaceful about not keeping track of your day-to-day activities and not feeling this constant urge to document and archive your every life experience for the world to see. For the longest time, my main rush of dopamine and mental reward was the satisfied rush I got from hitting “publish” on a finished blog entry. But I look back on these times now and think, “My God, was I really so openly repressed and full of internal conflict?”
Writing for an audience is a pleasure reserved only for the truly masochistic.
I am lucky in the sense that writing is a skill which comes very easily to me. I’ve never had to struggle to express a thought, and I’ve never found myself stressing over how to effectively communicate an idea via written word. Even after these past few weeks of avoiding writing like the plague, shaking the rust off my brain only took a minute or two before the ability came rushing back to me. The only reason I’m writing this entry right now, in fact, is to prove to myself that I can — to remind myself that I haven’t “lost it”.
However, writing has never been what scares me.
It’s the audience.
The things I used to write about so openly — my growing self-awareness, my struggles with maturity, my transition from bumbling teenager to blossoming woman — these are things I think back on now and realize I should have kept to myself. You would be surprised at how jaded a person can become after growing up before an audience. You’d be even more surprised, I think, to see how this sort of lifestyle and mentality, left unchecked and unguided, can warp one’s sense of reality.
I tortured myself publicly in ways that no other person would ever submit to. I was praised for being courageous, when really, I just had no grip on what should or shouldn’t be said so publicly. There was no filter on my fingers, no censorship to my words — “shame” was not an emotion that came to me easily. And because of this, I built an incredible crowd of both loyal supporters and nay-sayers alike who were either very much for me, or aggressively against me.
But as exciting as all of that is, I just feel … Done with it.
And I have to tell you, being less concerned with having my writing approved by some massive audience has been very liberating.
Grouse Mountain, Vancouver, BC
To write or not to write, that is the question.
As much as I’d like to pretend I’ve been struggling with the idea of writing again, I really haven’t. These past two months without overanalyzing my every decision have been incredible. That isn’t to say that the sole reason for my current happiness is purely because I’ve abstained from writing, but being able to simply live my life in private has been ridiculously rewarding, and I don’t think I want to give it up.
I’ve traveled more, leapt on new business opportunities more aggressively, picked up new and interesting hobbies, quit drinking, have become more grateful of little things, found a new addiction in health and fitness, learned how to cook, read more books than I care to admit, grew infinitely closer to my family, met new and wholesome friends, cut the negativity out of my life — I’ve been so focused and busy with self-improvement and personal growth that writing, a skill I once worked to improve on and master with astonishing regularity, was no longer something that crossed my mind.
For a while, I was a little worried that not writing would mean less opportunities thrown my way. How would anyone know I could still perform, y’know? Would everyone think I had just forgotten the very talent that built my career?
But, to my surprise, more opportunities than ever before began to flood my inbox the moment I attempted to “disappear” online. It was as if recruiters from the sideline were popping in to say, “Wait! Don’t go! There’s still more for you to do, and we need you!”
This shocked me. Flattered me.
This humbled me and makes me feel more grateful than you can imagine.
“At this point in your career, I think people already know you can deliver when you need to,” a friend of mine said over the phone. “Just keep taking it easy. You’re in demand now. Go at your own pace. You’ll know an opportunity is right when you see it.”
Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas
I’m learning how to better balance my life.
Failing again and again throughout my career has taught me more about health and happiness than my successes ever have. Do not underestimate the benefit of learning how to recover after you’ve hit rock bottom — it is these moments of personal struggle and self doubt that help you build the foundation of your character. Realizing how critical sadness, frustration, and anger is to survival has completely affected my perspective in a very zen-like way.
Experience has taught me that contentment is fleeting. Now that I realize how fickle achievement and success is when it comes to personal fulfillment, the easier it is for me to be thankful for the little things in life that make me happy or, as my mother puts it, “feed my soul”.
Whether it’s by sheer coincidence or because of my changed mindset, the moment I let go of constant success, of struggling to reach some magical fantasy world where I understand every little thing about my life and where euphoria is perpetual and rampant, the more actual success and contentment seemed to find me. Accepting neutrality and balance rather than striving for consistent positivity has been my recipe for peace of mind, and I plan on sticking with this formula for quite a while.
This means that until I settle into a new career where writing constantly is my jam (again), I’m going to continue focusing on me, continue living the soul-filling life I’ve discovered, and only write when I feel inspired to write rather than at the whim of my readers. The amount of stress this alleviates from my day to day is far more worth it than the grind of attempting to please the world.
Capilano Suspension Bridge & Cliff Walk, Canada
Where do I want my writing to take me?
I used to fantasize about being the sort of writer who’s locked up in her apartment, hunched over a typewriter or computer and furiously typing away at her next greatest work. And I think, in a lot of ways, this is exactly what I was doing for the past few years. But the older I become, the more my fantasies, goals, and aspirations evolve and change, and the less important it is to me to achieve some sort of ridiculous award for “writing well”.
Instead, my writing goals are less success-oriented and more passion-based.
I want to write about the things that make me happy.
I want to write about the things that get me excited.
I want to write speeches for public orators. I want to travel the world and write about my amazing discoveries and experiences. I want to craft the voice of the companies and brands I admire. I want to work alongside other writers who inspire me so we can motivate each other to succeed. I want to write for lifestyle blogs, for magazines, or for fitness and health columns. I want to be the person responsible for creating cool and edgy new digital campaigns. I want to interview those who’ve reached success, then share their stories in an entertaining way with those who strive to achieve that same level of greatness. I want to continue endorsing products I love. I want to write about food. About cooking. About fine dining. About the importance of family. About books, authors, movies–!
I want to write what I know.
I want to know more, so I can write more.
I want to live as full a life as possible so that, at the end of the day, no manner of writing will seem daunting to me.
But mostly, I think I just want to write at a pace that makes me happy. I don’t want to get burnt out like I have so many times. I want to be excited about what I’m writing about so I can do it forever (or at least as long as humanly possible without going crazy).
I think it was Ernest Hemingway who said, “Once writing has become your major vice and greatest pleasure, only death can stop it.”
He was probably
Sherilynn “HeyCheri” Macale