Why are you, the reader, so scary? Do you even know that you are scary? I am a better speaker than I am a writer. I’ve spoken to audiences of one to a thousand and I love it. The words just come more easily when I am speaking and I can gauge my audience. I’m articulate and compelling when I speak, but I get a little pedantic in my writing. I am too careful and precise in my written word choice for a reason. I am trying too hard to be understood with absolutely no sense of how I am coming across because I cannot see your face! The harder I try, or the more clearly I attempt to write, I end up just being more obscure.
I’ve been reading Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson because I’ve a wonderful friend who keeps reminding (nagging) me to read it. I recommend it. The author is hilarious though her subject is quite serious. She writes about mental illness. I admired her candid courage and felt glad that people with mental illness might feel a sense of connection when they read her book. I was also inspired by her title: Furiously Happy. That is why I titled this blog: Courageously Lily-livered. Her title isn’t the only inspiration for this blog. Two other factors I want to emulate are:
She is vulnerable upon the page.
She writes clearly and courageously.
I’m courageously lily-livered and you, the reader, are scary. You are going to JUDGE me. But I know a well-kept secret in our world: judgement is only ever a mirror. You are not really judging me, you are judging yourself. Your values are YOURS after all. If what I have to say lands with you as “meh” then you are not ruffled. You generally agree or disagree with whatever I am saying, but not strongly enough to make a thing of it. It isn’t challenging your values. If what I have to say lands with some kind of “she is so (insert negative adjective here)” then I have challenged your values. If you react to my words with “yes, I relate to this” then I have also hit you square in your values.
Back in my 20’s I read Dan Millman’s Peaceful Warrior series and some of his other books. I don’t remember which specific book to credit for the very helpful tool I’ve used all these years. It’s called worshiping “whuddle” as in Whuddle they think? Whuddle they say? He suggested getting a little silly statue and naming it “Whuddle.” He recommended worshiping this little statue each morning so that throughout the day, whenever the thought, Whuddle they think? Whuddle they say? comes up, you can honestly tell yourself that you already worshiped “Whuddle” this morning so there is no need to do it all day long. It wasn’t until I was in my 40’s that I realized that whatever they think or say is about them. Oh, I’d heard that bit of wisdom over and over throughout my life, but I didn’t really grow into it until I was in my 40’s.
Now that my childhood and young adult-hood anxieties about being judged are out of the way, a deeper layer of my complexity came to my consciousness. I’m afraid of not being relevant as a blog writer, that too few people share my eclectic values. I’m afraid I won’t meet the rest of my tribe, the kindred spirits with whom our shared values give us a sense of connection. I still feel lily-livered about being vulnerable upon the page but I am doing it as courageously and as clearly as I am able. How else will we find each other?
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