I’ve always been a bit of a loner, quite content with being by myself. Too content actually; a result of childhood experiences I’d rather forget.
Writing suits me.
But sometimes it’s not the best for personal growth. After all, we are social beings. But because I’m such a private person, this social networking stuff is way out of my comfort zone. By looking at me most people wouldn’t think so.
For more than a decade I owned a large Physiotherapy clinic in Vancouver and now I look after my family (including two dogs). Years ago I made a conscious effort to connect with friends every week. I run with three different groups, go to exercise and yoga classes, try to walk weekly with a friend that’s had a head injury, paddle on a dragon boat team, and am a member of this serious writing group. On the weekends I make an effort to connect with more friends. All of this is in my comfort zone.
But does anyone other than myself really know me? The inner core stuff, what makes me tick, what terrifies me, what I’ve tried to leave behind, what I’m struggling with at the present, what my prejudices are, what I’m ashamed of, what I can’t accept but I know I should?
We all have them. Right? And I’m sure it’s not easy for most of us to talk about them.
Take society’s question we all ask one another.
“How are you?”
In general we answer, “okay,” or “good,” but come on, not everyone is always okay. And to be honest, when we ask, we don’t really want to know when someone isn’t okay. Right?
I think it’s because we want to (and society expects us to) be social. Being social makes us think of sharing good things like parties, fun times, the intense juggling of one’s life with family and friends, or the looking forward to and planning of holidays, get-togethers, etc. When we think of being social it doesn’t include expressing the deep hurting or critical decision-making stuff. But, we all have those issues too.
So if we’re not okay, we don’t say it because it’s the un-fun side of being social, and who wants to be un-fun?
Therefore I’m guessing that what some of us do when we really want to get emotionally connected is we READ. We can get involved without putting our own lives at stake. We can laugh and cry and relate to the un-fun side of our social needs without putting the effort in ourselves. Let’s be honest, it hurts to spill out what terrifies us, or to work through or talk about abuses we’ve endured, or to reveal our flaws or unsavoury thoughts.
And that’s what I love about writing. I’ve had those deep hurts. I have my prejudices and ugly thoughts, and I’ve had the exhilarating highs too. For me, writing is part therapy and it’s over-the-top cool to have those feelings come out in my characters. But, have I opened myself up and let others really know me? Is it important?
I believe that being outside one’s comfort zone is necessary for personal growth. So I’m growing with this writing challenge and all the Twitter, Facebook and blogging we are doing. And I’m getting used to the idea that having ‘followers’ doesn’t mean I’m being stalked. I’d be more comfortable simply running with my friends, going to yoga, being mom to my three wonderful adult children, and yes, writing alone.
Yet, maybe because of this 5Writer’s challenge, I’ve decided to push myself on a deeper personal level too, and open up to a few people and let them in where it hurts.
And it helps. And I’m thankful for your support. You know who I mean.
I’m not alone.
(And in case you are wondering, I’m getting a lot of writing done too.)
Photos by David J Greer