How I walk away from my inner critic
Each week I sit down to write these posts, and inside my head there is a voice urging me to stop. Urging me to do something else. Urging me to keep my thoughts to myself. Telling me that my writing isn’t good enough. Telling me that people don’t really want to read what I have to say. Telling me that I am saying too much, revealing too much.
It is the voice of my inner critic, and it goes back 20 years.
Like all university Freshman I had to decide on a major soon after I arrived on campus. I knew that I wanted to be a teacher, so I knew that education would be one major, but I had to decide what I actually wanted to teach. That would be my second major. I loved to write and I loved to read, so my choice was pretty obvious.
I would be an English major.
But then, I wasn’t.
My first semester I took an 8:00am writing class, with a bunch of football players (They had to be up anyway for their early workouts. I, on the other hand, was crazy.). It was an introductory class and would launch me into the greater world of being an English major. I figured it would be an easy class. I had gotten a writing award just the year before, so I knew I was a good writer.
Then, I found out I wasn’t.
The professor completely trashed my writing. For four months, he routinely returned my papers covered in red marks. He didn’t like my style. He didn’t like the stories that I had to tell. He didn’t like that I loosely followed the rules of grammar. Paper after paper came back with a big fat C at the top. I had never gotten C’s in my life.
The following semester, I went to the Dean and changed my major. I guess I wasn’t going to be an English teacher after all.
My joy for writing petered out and then stopped all together.
Now, 20 years later, I choose to write despite my critic.
I put fingers to keyboard and create words, sentences, and blog posts each week. It took years for me to be able to write again, and to share my writing, but here I am.
Each week, sometimes each day, I hear that voice and I walk away. His opinion isn’t relevant anymore.
Every like, every share, every email that I get back saying “Nice one,” or “Beautiful metaphor,” or “Wow, you must have read my mind,” is evidence against him.
But, I am not just writing for your praise either. I am writing for myself.
When I finish a post, sit on it for a while, read it again, make subtle changes, and finally hit POST, it makes me feel alive.
I hope that by revealing the truth about myself, I might be serving someone else. Someone out there might be saying, "Oh, it's not just me who..."
Reading about my experiences, or reading about my learning, might be just what one of you needs to dig a little deeper, and be a little braver in your own life.
I could let me inner critic stop me from writing, but then where would I be? Where would you be?
What makes you feel alive? What dreams are calling you?
Are you taking action or are you hiding or stalling?
Is your inner critic holding you back?
If so, what are you going to do about it?
It's Your Life. Live It Boldly.
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