Lessons I have Learned Thus Far

Insights and reflections of my journey

I have a confession to make.

I am not who you think I am. How I look on the outside is not a reflection of what I look like on the inside. Social media only portrays the favorable views that we want other people to see—the places I have been, the good times I have experienced, the happiness that I have felt. But those are the highlights; most of the time life does not pan out like that.

When I started this blog I had great aspirations for myself—most of us do when starting a new project. I wanted to write a blog piece every single week. Twice a week even! Thought provoking, emotionally powerful, empathetic pieces that would touch both your brain and soul. My blog was going to be a mass of perceptions that I have cultivated through living life that could perhaps help someone else who is struggling with a similar feeling or predicament.

My first article, How To Be Strong In Your Life, struck me like a lightning bolt. I wrote the rough draft in less than an hour and everything just seemed to click together. It felt like my soul was screaming out “FINALLY!” to me. Everything fit together nicely, the words flowed and the emotion stuck. It was one of those days that felt less like writing and more like channeling. I was in a trance—I wasn’t in control of my fingers anymore, my muse was. And just as fast as it had come, it vanished, leaving a beautiful piece laid out in front of me.

So here I was, with this great piece and a vision for the future. I was finally going to start my own blog.

I learned how to set up WordPress blogs during my one of my digital marketing internships back in college, so I set one up. I put up a simple, free theme and found a color combination that I liked. I edited the article and slated it to go out on April 19th, 2016. I told all of my friends about it and scheduled posts on my social media pages to promote it once it finally went live. The night before it went live was the worst. I was like a ball of tangled yarn. I was nervous, I was excited, I was anxious, and I was relieved. I did not know what was going to happen but I had forced myself into a corner where it was going to happen with or without me. I had told everyone that the new post would be up in the morning. There was no backing out now. All I had to do was wait.

Of course, all of the usual anxiety stricken thoughts ran through my head continuously.

Would people like what I had written? Would people think I was dumb? Would nobody care? Why was I doing this? Did I actually want this? I poured my heart out, what if people reject me? Or make fun of me? What if this is a huge failure? Round and round the anxiety carousel went in my head.

In the morning the post went live and people liked it. To my astonishment people actually, legitimately, liked what I had written. People posted comments, shared it with their friends and family and showed me a lot of love and support. I was pretty baffled, but it felt great. It was a cool affirmation that I was walking down the right path.

Then something happened that I never could have predicted.

I got a message from an old friend I had not talked to since college. They told me that the post really resonated with them. That they too were going through a rough patch right now and that reading my words helped lift the weight off their shoulders a little bit. That they still had a ways to go but that my post had helped give them the strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I think that I may have actually cried when they told me that. It was the one of the best compliments I have ever received in my life—my words were able to help someone else deal with a situation that they were currently struggling with in their life. It was an epiphany—this was the point of my blog.

The point of my blog is to help people. Its purpose is connecting people together through shared feelings or situations; cultivating empathy for a brighter tomorrow.

Invigorated with a new sense of meaning I struck out to write my next blog post. It was going to build off this momentum and really strike a cord with even more people next week. Unfortunately, that post did not come by the next week. Things were just not clicking like they had for the first post. I realize now that part of that was my problem. I was not writing enough. I would set aside 20 minutes to write every 2 or 3 days and would sit there in agony, painfully squeezing out every word on the page. The muse had checked out of the building and in its wake despair slowly crept up the stairs.

Maybe I was a one hit wonder?

“Beginners luck, as people often like to say. I wrote one good article, but I was tapped out. I was not a real writer. Real writers could pump out articles like these with their eyes closed. I should just let my blog fade into obscurity.” Thoughts like these continually plagued my mind. I tried to be strong, I tried to resist them, but saying that and doing that are usually miles apart. Over a week had gone by and still, no article.

I had failed my first goal for the site—to publish a new piece once a week.

It was demoralizing but I kept putting one foot in front of the other. I re-read my rough drafts and I couldn’t figure out what I was missing. Why nothing was sticking like it did the first time. Then I thought about what I was feeling when I wrote my first article and it hit me. When I wrote my first article I wasn’t writing with my brain, I was writing with my heart. I was doing what my wonderful poetry professor taught me in college—I was digging deep down inside of myself, going into “The Cave” as she would put it, and pulling up whatever I found to the surface. If I was going to put out another piece, I needed to stop thinking about what I thought people would want me to write, or how I was going to top my first piece and instead write what my heart needed to get out.

So I wrote a post about the worst day of my life—the day my father died.

It was a story that I had never really told anyone before. The hectic morning that started with my mom bursting into my room and ended with me sitting on the pavement outside of the ER. While writing the article I started crying. I was sobbing uncontrollably onto my keyboard so much that the keys stopped working for a few minutes. Have you ever cried so hard over your laptop that it stopped working? My poor girlfriend had no idea what was going on. I had my headphones in and I was finally writing which was great, but I was sobbing as I was writing, which was bad. She ended up bringing me some cookies and tissues and let me continue without interrupting. She’s a keeper, that’s for sure.

Afterwards as I lay back in bed I was exhausted. I poured everything I had into that piece and the muse did not disappoint. It’s hard to explain but sometimes when I’m writing, when I really hit that vein, it’s like I’m in a trance. Athletes call it “being in the zone,” they make incredible catches, or insane shots one after another. That’s how it works with me when I’m writing. Every word fits perfectly, every sentence builds to a main point, every paragraph flows into the next one.

It’s the difference between writing from the heart and writing from the brain.

After my second post went live the feedback was even greater than before. I had people that I had not talked to in years, or only knew in passing—lauding my piece. People told me it made them cry. People told me that I put to words what they had always felt but never been able to convey to others. That my piece helped them figure out whatever trauma they had within themselves through sharing the experience that I had.

I was two for two and I felt great. I had missed my mark with how often I wanted to post, but I realized that was okay. It’s okay to take your time to write something as long as it matters.

As long as the meaning of the piece came from my heart, everything was going to work out okay.

But everything did not work out okay, because it took me nearly a month to write my 3rd article. Do you want to know the craziest part of it? I had written the article in 2 weeks and then I just sat on it for about 2 weeks. I did not know what was wrong with me. All that I had to do was talk to my friend that I had written a section of the article about, and once I had his approval, click publish and be done with it. But I couldn’t do it. Something was holding me back and I did not know what it was.

In time, I have come to the realization that struggle is a necessity of life. We want what we don’t have, but we have what we struggle to acquire. Struggle is good because it shows us what we are willing to sacrifice. It teaches us through action.

What are you willing to battle in order to achieve your goals?

This article was not just about me anymore. It was about my friend and myself—a friend who had reached out to me for help—and I could not just hit publish on my own. What if I had given him bad advice? What if he didn’t like it? These were the thoughts that plagued me over and over.

After consistent prodding by my girlfriend to just talk to my friend about the piece, (like I said before, she’s a keeper) I finally did and he loved it. He was very honored that I would write about him and all I needed to do was make a few corrections and then everything would be good to go.

We always tend to make things much more insidious in our heads than they actually are in reality. Within the limitless expanses of our minds a pigeon looks like a dragon; a stream looks like a raging river; a tiny hill imitates Mount Everest. It took me over a week of worrying and fretting to build up the courage to tell my friend that I had written about him. But right after I walked up to the mountain and told him, I realized that the mountain was not made out of granite but instead it was made out of papier-mâchè and it quickly fell apart right before my very eyes. It is only by facing what we fear in our heads out in the real world that those fears can ever be overcome.

Most of the time, our biggest fear is actually the perception of fear itself.

I decided to publish the article on a Saturday morning, a time when everyone and their Mom are on social media. I thought it would be a great idea, right? Wrong. My third article, Believing in Yourself, was actually the lowest liked or shared or viewed of the three articles I had written. I was kind of floored because this was the article that I had slaved over the longest and it seemed like people liked my first article that I wrote in one hour much more than this one.

But then a curious thing happened. The people who actually read the article told me that this was their favorite article. This happened over and over again. I realized that because this article was not only about me, since my friend had just as much invested into the article as I did, people could relate with it more. It was my longest piece and the best received and most relatable to the people that read it.

It’s funny, every time I have assumed something about this blog, I have been wrong.

I thought people wouldn’t like what I wrote and I was wrong. I thought that I was a one hit wonder and I was wrong. None of the negative things that actually held me back ever came true. I spent so much time worrying in my head about what people would think I did not even listen to the actual people that were telling me that they loved what I was doing and to keep moving forward with it.

As I write this, it’s the end of September. I haven’t posted anything on my blog since that third article at the end of May. It’s been four months and people have forgotten all about this little project of mine. But I never have. I have thought about it and said I would start writing again so many times it’s incalculable. But I never actually did anything. For four months I didn’t really sit down and write. I didn’t try to connect with my heart. I didn’t do the one thing that I said I was going to. I didn’t try. I didn’t put one foot in front of the other. I was not strong. I let life take over and the negative voices in my head win.

But I’m not going to continue to let them win.

I have no idea what I’m going to continue writing about. I don’t know where this path will lead me. But I’m going to keep writing. I’m going to pick myself back up, brush the dirt off my shoulders and put one foot in front of the other.

I do this because I am strong. I do this because I want to help other people. I do this because this is exactly the type of person that I want to become in my life and if I can’t do this for myself, I have no business trying to help anyone else accomplish this in his or her life.

I do this for me. I do this for you. But most importantly, I do this for us.

Because together we can move mountains, together we are strong, and love is really all we need to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Thank you for deciding to join me on this journey.

 

Much love,

Steve

(P.S. I wrote this piece on September 21st, 2016 and let it collect dust on my computer for nearly a month. I never intended to publish this–it was merely the impetus for me to begin writing again. While this post was idle on my laptop, I did manage to write and come out with my fourth post on the site called: Indecision is a Decision.

However, when considering options about what to write about next I kept coming back to this piece. Initially I believed that this piece was not publishable because I viewed it as a brain-dump; a consolidation of all of my thoughts and feelings I had about the blog and my journey with it thus far.

After reading the rough draft to my girlfriend, (remember, she’s a keeper) she excitedly encouraged me to edit it and publish it out to all of you. Her reason was simple, this piece is authentic. This post details the struggles and anxieties and setbacks that occur for me on a daily basis. Struggles that she sees daily and that she helps me overcome. By posting it for you all to see, it strips away the veil that often gets placed over us on social media that blinds us to each other’s insecurities. On social media lately I can be seen as this globe-trotting, festival going, successful young professional whose life is constantly filled with sunshine and rainbows. When in reality, I am a flawed, insecure, emotional guy that often drives myself crazy over-analyzing situations and caring too much about things that I shouldn’t. But at the end of the day, this is the real me and it’s something I am happy to share with you all. Thanks again for reading.)

4 thoughts on “Lessons I have Learned Thus Far”

  1. This proves to me and all what we know to be true – that you are a caring, insightful, deep and beautiful person (inside and out) and someone I, for one, always want to be around.
    (However, I think “your girlfriend” is more than a “keeper”…and to see you both together I’m thinking you may want to consider a blog about you two as a couple)..just a thought

    1. Haha thank you so much Aunt Jeanne, I really appreciate your kind words. Unfortunately she’s not too big on writing, but I definitely have some plans in the future of writing up some of the trips that we have gone on, and lessons we have learned from our relationship, so stay tuned! Your love and support means the world to me <3.

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