Once upon a time when I was an angsty teenager, I wrote poetry. I kept a journal filled with all sorts of thoughts and random musings, most of which I have carted around with me even as a thirty-something adult.
This stuff is so important to me, it made the cut when all I had were suitcases to transport me across the country. Sometimes I look through it and marvel at how decent a writer I was, although I’m also embarrassed about how large a percentage of it was about boys.
For many years I’ve struggled with being able to share things on this blog that weren’t “sunny” or optimistic. That’s why my friend and I started Collaborations of Abstraction. But I’ve realized that it isn’t just about sharing other things on this blog. It was about me writing those types of ideas and thoughts in general.
It got me thinking about those journals and about one poem in particular.
This was my first ever published piece of writing. My first byline. And it was thrilling to see my name in print. Unfortunately my excitement was short-lived because my parents weren’t so fond of me writing about being burned alive, even metaphorically speaking.
Much of my writing was like this. It wasn’t depressing (I didn’t think), but it made those closest to me uncomfortable. And while I’m sure they didn’t have any intention of stifling my creativity, the “Can’t you write something more happy? More upbeat?” started to change my style and myself.
It wasn’t until these last few years that I’ve discovered I balk at expressing my anger and sadness in words. I rarely wax poetic about frustration because, well, who wants to hear about that?
But then I’d read these “great American novelists” like Henry Miller and wonder how he got so damn successful emoting in such a negative way. Why on the Goddess’ green earth is The Great Gatsby such an amazing story when it’s so damn tragic?
These questions started to wrestle something out from deep within me. And of course the answer is so simple. Without light, there is no darkness. Without sadness, who could understand joy? Without Beethoven there would be no Icona Pop. That, my friends, would be terrible.
I’m making a genuine effort to feel and express all of my emotions in an adult way, no matter how uncomfortable it makes me. And that’s the thing. I could blame my family for my inability to express those thoughts, but they’re not me. I am. I’ve gotta own that.
And so as much as I would love to be all sunny all of the time, there’s gotta be a little wiggle room. I say this for my benefit. I doubt many of you will throw your hands in the air and say. “Well I’m done with her!”
And if you do, that’s fine. That doesn’t matter. The self-censorship stops now. And I’m talking about in all of my writing. Can you believe I edit myself in my journal? What kind of madness is that?
Are you censoring yourself? What emotions do you have trouble expressing? I encourage you to make a commitment to changing that. Learn from my experience. Because the more you deny that part of you, the less the other part means.
How much does optimism mean when it’s your auto-pilot? Are you really that nice if you have no boundaries? Once you discover the other parts of you, your personality and your life will flourish. And that actually sounds pretty amazing, doesn’t it?