Who are you to write?

Facing the voices of fear.

I’ve been torn lately. Part of me wants to write more often, to branch out and speak up. The other part of me fears that I am too easily sucked into the narcissistic current that is pulling our Internet-fueled broadcast culture out to sea.

Writing offers a platform for vulnerability. By speaking up, by publishing my thoughts, I may let others know they aren’t alone in their experiences. The written word allows conversations to take place with people I’ve never met, relationships to form that geography prohibits. There’s immense good that comes from the Internet and the ease with which we can share our thoughts with others. I’ve experienced this firsthand and have been greatly encouraged, sometimes rescued, by the words posted by a stranger on the Internet.

But it’s also noisy here.

Everyone has a blog. Everyone has a Facebook page they update with the mundane details of their lives and links to other blog posts that reenforce their opinions or whatever made them laugh. I can barely keep up with my Twitter feed, short 140-character nuggets of information, hilarity or inspiration that I’m afraid to miss. We’re all clamoring to be heard, to be known. It’s like we’re collectively tugging at the shirt of an invisible parent, asking, “Do you notice me?”

By writing, am I hoping to be noticed? Will I be adding to the scramble for attention? Will I add to the noise? I hang back from jumping into the blogosphere (is that still a thing?), and ask myself, “Do I have anything worth saying?” Yes, we’re all valuable, we’re all worth listening to. But do I need to broadcast my thoughts? Is the internet the best place for these written monologues? How much energy should I put toward trying to write more for an unknown internet “audience” (I guess that’s you if you’re reading this!) versus spending more time and making myself more available for the friend who wants to get coffee?

We’re all pretty good at talking. Maybe I should listen more first?

That was what I was thinking initially when I started this post. Listening is a good thing and maybe I’ll write about that next. I had taken a break from editing this post and read in Jon Acuff’s book, “START”, and chapter 3 hit me between the eyes. I realized that this post started because I’m listening to the voices of fear, disguised in some sort of psuedo-modesty.

“Who are you to write?”

“What could you possibly have to contribute to the conversations?”

“Do you think you’re smarter than the people who have already had these discussions?”

So I’m going to post this. A toast to living without fear, to shutting the voices up. May you recognize your own voices and call them out for the lies they are. Start. (Thanks, Mr. Acuff.)

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